(lat. Sambucus nigra L.)
The elderberry (Sambucus nigra) belongs to the favorite plants of Paracelsus. It is one of the oldest medicinal plants and grows particularly close to dwellings. The elder bush was not to be missed on any farm because there the house goddess Holda Sat (Old High German “hold” = cure) cured and protected the plants and animals. Its healing power is extremely diverse. In colloquial speech a proverb still applies that one must pull a hat before an elder, since he can heal a dozen diseases. The elderberry shrub was highly praised by Hippocrates, Dioskurides, and Pliny. He was sacred to human beings and was called the “pharmacy of the poor”.
In spring, from April to May, the young shoots and leaves are collected, then towards the end of June (in sunny weather) the white flower umbels, from February to the end of November the roots, from February to March and October to November the bark, and the berries in September. As rich as the annual harvest is, so varied are the diseases that can be treated with elderberry.
The young sprouts and elderberry leaves accelerate the secretion of urine and are used for the discharge of fluid accumulation in case of disturbed kidney activity. The bark of the stem, the branches and the shaded green middle layer of the roots contain a resin of intense laxative and diuretic action. Albertus Magnus (around 1250 AD) claimed that the inner bark, scraped from top to bottom, would be a laxative and scraped from the bottom to the top an agent to cause vomitting. Paracelsus also knew the laxative effect. “If you would need to lax because of the fallen rivers, take a half-lot (7.5 grams) of dried elderberries with the same amount of sugar in the morning. This removes the rivers which have fallen into the stomach without any other means and is a harmless laxative to you, but only one single time in the year, in May.” (Vol. II, p. 461)
Take almost a teaspoon for a cup, and drink swallowing at intervals, a maximum of two cups a day. This helps with kidney and bladder problems, edema, muscle and joint rheumatism, but also with persistent bowel movements and constipation. Pastor Künzli writes: “The black elder is a splendid gift of god. We are only too unaware of its healing and nutrient powers … Elder roots are cut into small pieces and cooked – this produces a drink which is invaluable for the dropsical and for corpulents who would like to become slim again. Even more effective is the decoction in wine… The leaves give us the simplest and best blood cleansing tea. Take some elderberry leaves, cut them (small) and let the tea boil for about 10 minutes. Whoever wants to cleanse juices and blood by a spring cure, take a cup of tea every day one hour before breakfast. Let this cure be continued for four or five weeks. “(Pfarrer Künzle, p. 340)
The elderberry blossoms stimulate the sweat gland activity. Elderberry blossom tea is therefore used for sweating cures and helps with flu, cough, bronchitis, asthma, severe rhinitis and all rheumatic diseases, whereby an intensive sweating excretion of the disease-substances is achieved. According to humoral medicine, with the warming elderberry blossoms (Sambuci flos), the discharging canals are opened and the cold phlegm, contaminated with yellow-blistered asperities, is discharged. Sweating cleanses the blood and the poisoned humors (juices) are swept out. That is why for treating gout Paracelsus recommended elderberry salt to be taken when moon decreases and before the sweating-bath in order to perspire afterwards.
For dizziness Paracelsus also advised the flowers to be applied in conjunction with Juniperus sabina. (Vol. III, p. 554)
The black elderberry can be taken as juice, mash or jam. They contain flavonoids, essential oils, minerals, vitamins, especially vitamin C. The juice of the berries is used as an anthelmintic in colds, flu, constipation, excitation of urine but also for treating sciatica, headache, toothache and with great success trigeminal neuralgia.
Elderberry mash: On one kilogram of elderberry, take 250 grams of sugar, 50 grams of flour and some water, milk as desired and cook the whole thing. This gives a refreshing meal. (Pastor Künzle, p. 341)