If you are a health-conscious person and have spent some time researching natural living blogs, you’ve most likely read a thing or two about the Elder plant. The elder tree not only gives us versatile elderberries in the cooler season but also pleasant-smelling elderflowers in the warmer months.
The elderflower is the flower of an Elder plant. They appear in large clusters of yellowish-white, star-shaped flowers during the spring. The tiny blooms are white or cream-colored and quite delicate. An extract of the flower has been used to make medicine for hundreds of years.
You’ve probably tried some elderflower cordial before, but did you know that elderflowers have some amazing health benefits? Here are a few ways to use them and some of the things that these beautiful flowers are great for.
What is Elderflower Good For?
Elderflowers are great for children and adults. In fact, anyone can use them, including pregnant or nursing moms and the elderly. Elder is a sweet-tasting, gentle herb that has many wonderful properties especially when it comes to children. For example, for children with eczema or colds, it works great! It’s a must-have at our house! There are many ways to use elderflowers. Here is a general list:
- Dry skin
- Swollen sinuses (sinusitis)
- Colds, influenza (flu), swine flu
- Increase urine production (as a diuretic)
- Increased sweating (as a diaphoretic)
- Stop bleeding
- A gargle and mouthwash for coughs, colds, hoarseness (laryngitis), flu, and shortness of breath
- Joint pain (rheumatism)
- Pain and swelling (inflammation)
- Used in teas, tonics, glycetracts, cordials, and baking
- Used in perfumes
- Used in eye and skin lotions.
Main Health Benefits of Elderflower
1. Supporting Healthy Sinuses
Elderflower can help you if you catch the ills and chills as well as in the allergy season. In the spring the elder supplies us with its flowers. The elderflowers are high in flavonoids (especially rutin and isoquercitrin) which are used for their anti-inflammatory and anti-allergy effects, specifically on the upper respiratory tract and sinuses. Elderflower soothes inflamed tissues in the sinuses and dries up secretions and excess mucus. It also helps to reduce that blocked up and ‘deafness’ you can get from too much mucus in your sinuses. This makes elderflower a great remedy for sinusitis, colds, and allergies.
2. Improving Skin and Hair Health
Infused with innate anti-aging and free radical fighting properties, elderflower can keep your skin radiant for longer periods. Besides, they also act as a natural detoxifying agent which helps prevent distressing skin conditions like breakouts, boils, and scars.
Anthocyanins are compounds that give the elderberries and flowers their characteristic red/purple color. It was discovered that these compounds can give a natural boost to your skin’s health and protect against skin damage. Distilled elderberry flower water is known to restore skin health and lighten freckles. In addition, elderflowers also encourage hair growth and impart nutrients to your hair.
3. Managing Fever
Elderflower is often found in tea blends that contain peppermint and thyme to support a healthy immune system. They are often found in tea blends that support a healthy immune system alongside peppermint and thyme. The active properties within the flower induce sweating by working on sweat gland activity, which can help with bringing down a fever. The amazing thing about elderflowers is that when they are heated, they can help with fever and sweating, and in a cold infusion they can cool you down. It’s amazing that this plant adapts to your needs!
Elderflowers act not only as a relaxant but also as a diaphoretic which is important with fevers. The relaxing part of the herb will help the tissues relax and allow blood flow to increase to the peripheral areas of the body (the skin and limbs). This causes the skin’s pores to open up and let the body sweat. This sweating helps to not only release the built-up tension within the body but to cool it down as well.
Both the leaves and the flowers help to impart anti-inflammatory properties. This can be helpful when you are feeling under the weather, suffering from seasonal allergies, or looking to reduce inflammation within your lifestyle (e.g. from processed foods or too much alcohol). The anti-inflammatory properties can be traced back to the presence of ursolic acid within the plant. Elder is also high in antioxidants and has nutritional health benefits also.
For families with children, it’s a smart idea to make an anti-inflammatory oil with elderflower in advance to use on any and everything that looks swollen and inflamed, such as diaper rash, bug bites, rashes, sprained ankles, etc. It’s quite easy to make elderflower oil on your own. You just need a glass jar, fill it 1/2 full of dried elderflower or full if you’re using fresh flowers, and pour your oil over it.
5. Help with Eye Irritation
Elderflowers are high in antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, and also helpful in supporting healthy skin healing and reducing skin irritations. For those months with extra pollen and dust flying around, you could use a cooled elderflower infusion on the skin (or even add it to a bath). You can also soak some cotton pads in an elderflower infusion and place them on your eyes to help calm them down or reduce irritation. For better results, you can even put the soaked cotton pads in the fridge before use to really cool and calm your eyes down! Elderflower infusions are a great natural solution for tired, itchy and irritated eyes. Another idea could be to put the soaked cotton pads in the fridge before use to really cool and calm your eyes down!
How To Use Elderflowers
We love the versatility of this amazing plant and there are so many different ways to use this plant at home and really make use of the elderflower’s health benefits. Here are two of our favorites:
1. Making An Infusion
When making a cold infusion, it is ok to leave the stalk on the elderflower. But with a hot infusion, take the flowers off first as the stalk can be very bitter and give you an upset stomach. You can pick and dry the flower heads for use in winter to help with runny noses and fever management – pair it with thyme and peppermint for a lovely infusion. In summer, pair elder with mint in a cold infusion – add the plant material to cold water and leave for a few hours before drinking.
2. Make Elderflower Cordial
Elderflower makes a beautiful cordial – you can add this to sparkling water or even a gin. A simple search on google will give you lots of inspiration but here is a simple recipe:
Elderflower Cordial Recipe:
- 1.5kg sugar
- 1.5 L water
- 25 elderflowers (no stems)
- 3 sliced lemons
Follow these steps to make elderflower cordial:
- Dissolve the sugar and water and bring to boil until all sugar has dissolved.
- Place the elderflowers and lemons in a bowl and pour over the sugar water. Leave for 24 hours to infuse.
- Strain the liquid to remove lemons and elderflowers.
- Bottle in clean and sterilized bottles, label with name and date, and keep in the fridge for 2 weeks.
3. Make Elderflower Tea
You can make elderflower tea from fresh flower petals. So if you have an elder tree in your yard, you are in luck. Of course, if it’s off-season or you don’t have an elder tree, you can use dried elderflowers to make elderflower tea.
What is elderflower tea good for? Elderflower tea is high in Vitamin C. Just like you take the elderberry syrup at the first sign of a cold, elderflower tea can be used for sinuses, colds, and the flu. Make sure you talk to your physician and see if it’s a good choice based on your personal health condition. Elderflower tea is very easy to make. It has a very light, crisp, and clean taste with just a hint of sweetness. If you’re not used to drinking plain herbal teas, try to add a bit of raw, local honey to yours.
Side Effects of Elderflowers
Elderflower is likely safe when used in amounts found in foods. It is unsafe when used in excessive amounts. Elderflower can cause gastrointestinal disturbances, such as nausea and diarrhea, especially when consumed in large amounts. Some parts of the elderflower plant contain a cyanide-producing chemical that can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Cooking removes this chemical.
You should not brew up any other part of the elder tree, such as the leaves, sticks, and roots. As some medical professionals suggest, you should monitor your intake of Elderflower Tea. Avoid using prior to and immediately following surgery as well. Cook berries before use and avoids other parts of the elder plant due to toxicity.