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Elderberry: The Elder Mother: The Queen of Herbs

Have you heard of elderberry before? Recently or something you learned of long ago? I know that with the outbreak of coronavirus, elderberry has gained more and more attention as an immune boosting and antiviral natural remedy. Elderberry was not a berry I ever heard of as a child. Herbalism wasn’t something I ever heard of until I began to explore natural medicine during my undergraduate studies. Sure, I had read many accounts of using plant medicine and living off of the land in fictional novels, but I didn’t even know herbalism was available in modern American culture until I came across the first book I ever read about herbs:  ‘The Green Pharmacy’ by James Duke., PhD. A few months later, the call of the plants drew me to Vermont, where I was eventually introduced to this Queen of Herbs, elderberry (among other plants!). Although tulsi is known as the Queen of Herbs in Indian culture, and I also consider it such, I’d say the local terroir in Vermont is more suited to sambucus canadensis than ocium sanctum. Although both will grow here, elderberry will winter over and grow bigger and bigger each year. Sambucus canadensis is considered a native plant and continues to be used today by the indigenous people of Vermont, the Abenaki.

One thing I learned about the local and traditional use of elderberry in Vermont is to make them into a jam! It’s quite a delicious way to support your immune system! Although you don’t eat them raw, and some may consider them a tedious task to harvest and process, I absolutely love them from the delicate scent of their creamy blossoms to the rich, dark purple stain the berries leave on my fingertips. Elderberry deserves the reputation and title of Elder Mother and Queen of Herbs for the powerful antioxidant and antiviral ‘punch’ that they possess. One may also look at it from the perspective of a very strong and heartwarming grandmother hug to your soul, especially when combined with the loving embrace that hawthorn berries bring to the pot in our ‘Better Together’ Elderberry Syrup. Elderberry Syrup is one of my FAVORITE products to make. It’s simple, powerful, beautiful and to the point. You can individualize it with any number of herbs and spices. I like to use astragalus for it’s sweet and gentle adaptogenic effects, ginger for the medicinal effects of gingerol, and cinnamon because well… I love cinnamon! Also, it’s warming and soothing, especially during cold and flu season.

There are both scientific and aesthetic reasons for blending, using and preferring certain herbs. Just like with modern pharmaceuticals, each body responds differently. Just as with everything, we each have our own preferences, needs, interests, desires, etc. This individuality is one of my favorite parts about herbalism. We have this opportunity to educate ourselves on how to be healthy and the self-care responsibility to then do so with discipline and compassion. We have a variety of plants, methods, and people to then encourage us along the way.

For me, elderberry is one of the plants that I experience a special bond with, and have from first sight. I still remember slowly opening her branches and lowering my head to then sit beneath. I felt enveloped in her love like one would a loving mother. It makes sense to me that she was given this name.

There is so much more I have to share with you about elderberry and other plant allies! Check out Sacred Earth Essentials on YouTube for videos introducing the plants, sharing stories, and exploring healing modalities, ancient and modern.

Want to try elderberry syrup? I have a delicious elderberry recipe, created by me, offered here on our shop. Give it a taste and let me know how you feel!

In Good Health,

Stef

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