Terre Pruitt's Blog

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Posts Tagged ‘elderberries’

The USDA Makes the Elderberry and Elderflower Sound Miraculous

Posted by terrepruitt on March 1, 2012

In a post about an article I read about boosting your immune system I mentioned elderberries.  I think it is funny how things get brought to your conscious.  Last year I went to a Yelp Event where one of the vendors serving was St Germain.  St. Germain is a French liqueur made from elderflowers.  I had never heard of it, but when first hearing of the event my friend had told me it was her favorite.  After tasting it in their signature cocktail I understood why.  That was my first conscious memory of hearing about elderberries.  Then I read the article and it mentioned elderberries.  So I decided to do a few searches on Elderberries and as is the case with most things Wiki has a wealth of information.  First off the Elderberry is kind of the category of 5 to 30 shrubs or trees.

It seems as if most countries and peoples use the elderflowers to make syrups.  The syrups can be added to pancakes or diluted with water and used as a drink.  Or what the french had done and made a liqueur.  Seems as if the berries are used in the tradition of many berries, in wines, james, jellies, marmaldes, and fruit pies.  Every site I have seen says that the flowers are often dipped in batter and fried.  Elderberries.com states that they believe it is best not to eat them raw. 

According to the United States Department of Agriculture:  “Only the blue or purple berries of elderberry are edible. Edible berries and flower are used for medicine, dyes for basketry, arrow shafts, flute, whistles, clapper sticks, and folk medicine. The active alkaloids in elderberry plants are hydrocyanic acid and sambucine. Both alkaloids will cause nausea so care should be observed with this plant. Elderberries are high in Vitamin C. The red berries of other species are toxic and should not be gathered.”

The USDA site also states that folk medicine considered the elderberry a very valuable healing plant.  And it sounds like it could do almost anything.  The flowers have flavonoids which some say are thought to help prevent cancer and improve immune function.  The tannins are a help with reduction of bleeding, diarrhea, and congestions.

The flowers can also be made into a tea to aid in breaking “dry fevers and stimulate perspiration, aid headache, indigestion, twitching eyes, dropsy, rheumatism, appendix inflammation, bladder or kidney infections, colds, influenza, consumption (bleeding in lungs), and is helpful to newborn babies (Hutchens 1991). Used as a wash, the flowers or leaves are good for wounds, sprains, and bruises, as well as for sores on domestic animals. The leaves, which are stronger, have a slightly laxative property. Applied externally, leaves, flowers, bark and twigs are excellent as a poultice, mixed equally with chamomile, for soreness, inflammations, joint stiffness, and to reduce the swelling of bee stings. The flowers and berries, employed as a diuretic, can aid arthritis and rheumatism. Steeped in water, the flowers are used externally to aid in complexion beauty, tone and soften the skin, and lighten freckles or spots. The berry juice made into salve aids burns and scalds. The juice taken internally will act as a purgative.’

Wow, huh?  Sounds like the entire plant can pretty much do anything.  But I haven’t seen the berries sold anywhere, have you?  I have to admit I have not LOOKED for them, but since they sound like they can take care of some many things I would think they would be more popular.

Since the actual genus name is Sambucus, it probably wouldn’t surprise you to know that the Italian liqueur Sambucca is comprised of oil from the elderflower.  Aside from the liqueur versions and the jam versions, it really sounds as if the flowers and the berries are very good for you.  They have a lot of vitamin C and a good amount of vitamin A.  And according to folk medicine they do a heck of a lot.  I am going to look for them in September.  That seems to be the season for Elderberries. 

After reading they can help boost your immune system AND all the other stuff listed here, do they interest you?  Do elderberries sound like something you would like to add to your diet?  Do you want to try some elderflowers?

Posted in Food, Fruit | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Some Foods Can Boost Your Immune System

Posted by terrepruitt on February 14, 2012

Our local warehouse store puts out a magazine, it is called The Costco Connection. In the February 2012 issue there was an article about “Foods to protect your immune system”, by Carl Germano. The magazine said that Whey Protein, cultured yogurt, mushrooms, elderberry, garlic, and oats helps protect the immune system.

Whey protein is a by-product of cheese from cow’s milk. So it could cause allergic reactions to people with milk allergies. But the article said it is the only protein that contains powerful substances called immunoglobulins. Funny that they use that word instead of the more familiar “antibody”. Antibodies are the much needed part of our immune system that guard against infections by fighting off bacteria and viruses. Antibodies are also made by our immune system in response to foreign objects in the body.

I had always been told to eat only yogurt with “live cultures” (eww, that grosses me out just like yeast!). But back in the day they were not publicly called probiotics and it was not the latest marketing trend. Although, I am thinking that other people also have an aversion to the term “live cultures” and that is why marketing has used “probiotics”. Probiotics help keep the balance in your gut (intestines). And a healthy gut is an important part of the immune system.

Mushrooms are a healthy fungus. This article made me feel much better because all my life I had thought mushrooms didn’t have any nutritional value. This article said “once thought to be nutrient void”. I knew it! I knew they were thought to be “nothing”. They deserve their own separate post! According to Wiki the actions are not understood, some clinical trials are showing results that mushrooms might help fight diseases. I think that anything that fights diseases qualifies as something that helps the immune system, right?

The University of Maryland has information regarding the Elderberry, saying that it has been used to treat wounds for centuries and it is used to treat colds and respiratory issues. Those things alone can point to immune boosts, right? I mean, if it treats a wound it probably helps fight against infection – which is an immune function. If it helps fight colds and respiratory issues – that sounds like something helping the immune system.

ALL MY LIFE, I have been told about the benefits of garlic. My family is huge on eating garlic. My grandfather used to fry it. It is pretty good that way. Strong, but good. (Not deep fried, just fried in a pan.) Garlic is a natural antibiotic. Eating it can help fight bacteria. And Dr. Oz has stated that putting a clove in your ear can help fight off ear infections.

Oats are the cholesterol-lowering food. Oats also have a lot of fiber which we know helps the body maintain balance. According to the article “studies have shown that beta-glucans, powerful immune-regulating compounds . . . . have positive effects in animals and humans.”

So if you eat these things as part of your diet you are helping your immune system. If you don’t, you might want to include them in your diet. If you include them in your diet already, how do you do it? I am really curious about Elderberries in the diet.

Posted in Food | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments »