The usefulness of elder as a source of medicine is amazing. Every part of the plant has medicinal actions with the flowers and berries being the most gentle and useful. Tea made from elder flower drunk hot helps to alleviate anxiety and restless at the onset of colds and flus while also helping the body to sweat and resolve the illness. It is specific for flu and upper respiratory issues as elder flowers assist the body in healing and relaxes spasms (coughs) in the lungs as well as assisting in removal of mucus. Studies have found elder berries to protect against the flu virus. We use elderberry syrup every year as a preventative. Elderberry also helps ease coughs and colds. Drinking elder berry tea is another delicious way to experience the benefits of this amazing plant.
Some cautions with elder: the seeds can irritate the digestive tract in some people. Only the blue elder berries (Sambucus nigra) should be used as the red ones are toxic. Elderberries are generally considered to be quite safe though they can be drying and irritating for folks suffering from migraines. The bark and roots are an emetic and therefore causes vomiting. If you have a reaction, stop taking it immediately.