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Elder Berries

elder berries natural herbs

Scientific name: The American elder

Common name : Sweet elder, common elder, elderberry, sambucus

Botany

The American elder is a tall shrub that grows leel. It is native to North America. The European grows to about 30 feet and while native to Europe, been naturalized to the United States.


History

Chemistry

European elder flowers contain about f an essential oil composed of free fatty acids and Triterpenes (alpha- and beta-amyriElder flowers and berries have been used in al medicine and as flavorings for centuries. In folk :ine, the flowers have been used for their diuretic laxative properties and as an astringent. Various . of the elder have been used to treat cancer and a of other unrelated disorders. Distilled elder flower has been used as a scented vehicle for topical rations and extracts are used to flavor foods, includ?coholic beverages. The fruits have been used to,are elderberry wine.n), ursolic oleanic acid, betulin, betulic acid and a variety of if minor components have been identified.1.3 The r leaf contains sambunigrin, a cyanogenic glucoside


Sambucus species are now undergoing significant IY because they contain a number of plant lectins ave hemagglutinin characteristics. These corn?s are useful in blood typing and defining other atologic characteristics.


Armacology

Elder flowers are considered to diuretic and laxative properties; however, the spe?compounds responsible for these activities have not been well established. The compound sambuculin A and a mixture of alpha- and beta-amyrin palmitate have been found to exhibit strong anti hepatotoxic activity against liver damage induced experimentally by carbon tetrachlo?ride.


Toxicology

Because of the cyanogenic potential of the leaves, extracts of the plant may be used in foods, provided HCN levels do not exceed 25 ppm in the flavor. Toxicity in children who used pea shooters made from elderberry stems has been reported.


One report of severe illness following the ingestion of juice prepared from elderberries has been recorded by the Centers for Disease Control? Persons attending a picnic who ingested several glasses of juice made from berries picked the day before reported nausea, vomiting, weakness, dizziness, numbness and stupor. One person who consumed five glasses of juice was hospitalized for stupor. All recovered. Although cyanide levels were not reported, there remains the possibility of cyanide-induced toxicity in these patients. While elderberries are safe to consume, particularly when cooked (uncooked berries may produce nausea), leaves and stems should not be crushed when making elderberry juice.


Summary

Elderberries are edible berries (particularly when cooked) from the elder bush. They have been used medicinally although they are not typically associated with strong medicinal characteristics. One report of toxicity following the ingestion of elderberry juice has been re?corded, but this appears to have been an isolated incident.


Patient information

Elderberry

Uses

Elder Berries and flowers have been uses in flavouring adn in traditional medicines


Side Effects

There have been reports of toxicity,particularly invoiving the stems and leaves.