Elderberry is a species of flowering plants in the family Adoxaceae. Elderberry fruits and flowers are used for medicinal purposes. The elderflowers are white in color and the berries turn black when ripe. The leaves and stems of elderberry are toxic, and the fruits must be properly dried and separated from leaves and stems before consuming. Elderberries have a naturally sweet and tart flavor. Elderberry tea is made from dried elderberry fruits or flowers.
Elderberry Tea Benefits
What is elderberry tea good for? Elderberry tea has an array of health benefits such as relieving pain and inflammation, and providing relief from the common cold and flu, just to name a few. Here are the 12 health benefits of elderberry tea.
1. May reduce cardiovascular disease
Consuming anthocyanin-rich foods such as elderberries may reduce death due to cardiovascular diseases. The Iowa Women’s Health Study conducted research on post-menopausal women without cardiovascular disease. It was found that consuming a diet rich in foods containing anthocyanins, such as berries, reduced death from CVD and coronary artery disease.
2. Improves cognitive function
A diet rich in flavonoids, including anthocyanins, may enhance memory and help prevent age-related cognitive decline. The flavonoids help in cognitive functioning by activating synaptic signaling and improving blood flow to the brain. A study published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture states that flavonoids can reverse age-dependent declination in memory and cognition. It may delay the development of Alzheimer’s disease as well.
3. Relieves cold and flu
Elderberry tea helps clear congestion due to the common cold and also helps to relieve aches. To get this elderberry tea benefit, you must drink it three times a day. Elderberry is a good source of vitamin C, which is a water-soluble antioxidant that helps protect against infections.
A study published in Nutrients shows that elderberry supplements can reduce the symptoms and duration of a cold in air travelers. Another study published in the Journal of International Medical Research states that elderberry extract, when used within the first 48 hours of the onset of flu symptoms, shortens the duration of flu symptoms by an average of four days.
4. Relieves sinus inflammation
The cavities around the nasal passage get inflamed leading to sinus aches. Elderberry has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties which help relieve sinus inflammation. Sinupret, a herbal blend, contains elderberry flowers. A study conducted by the Institute of Complementary Medicine’s Department of Internal Medicine showed that patients who used Sinupret with antibiotics and a decongestant to treat bacterial sinusitis, resulted in improved and faster relief.
5. Normalizes blood sugar
A research published in the Journal of Nutrition states that elderberry has insulin-like properties that increased glucose transport and oxidation, as well as glycogenesis. As such, it may be useful for diabetics. However, it is important for a patient taking diabetes medication to consult a doctor before drinking this tea for diabetes, as it may cause hypoglycemia.
6. Cures bronchitis
According to MedlinePlus, a trusted health information website, elderberry tea might help improve the symptoms of bronchitis. A research conducted on bronchitis patients showed that a mixture of various herbs such as elderberry, verbena, gentian root, sorrel, and cowslip flower helped improve bronchitis. The effects of elderberry consumption in isolation for bronchitis needs more research.
7. Acts as a natural diuretic
One of the most important elderberry tea benefits is that it can be used as a diuretic. Diuretics are prescribed when the body retains too much of fluid. Elderberry tea helps stimulate the flow of urine, which cleanses the urinary tract. Elderberry tea also works as a mild laxative and may prevent bloating and gas, and improves bowel moments as well.
8. Enhances skin health
Elderberry tea has antioxidants, bioflavonoids, and a good amount of vitamin A, all of which are essential for healthy skin. Elderberries provide 17% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin A, which is more than strawberries and blueberries. Elderberries are also antibacterial and can be useful for acne. The bioflavonoids in elderberry prevent and reverse wrinkles, inhibit the development and reduce the appearance of age spots, and fight varicose veins and spider veins.
9. May help prevent cancer
Elderberries have high amounts of anthocyanins, and exhibit anticarcinogenic and therapeutic properties.
A study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food compares European and American elderberry’s anticancer properties. European elderberries have a higher amount of antioxidants compared to American elderberries. Extracts of both berries showed significant chemopreventive potential.
10. Works as a natural laxative
In Brazil, a commonly used compound for treating constipation was found to contain elderberry. Elderberry, when used with other compounds, is a natural laxative that can help relieve constipation.
11. Boosts immunity
Elderberry tea helps boost immunity, fights against cancers, and helps in wound healing. It also reduces pain and inflammation.
12. Possible cure for swine flu
Preliminary evidence based on the research conducted at the University of Maryland Medical Center shows that elderberry destroys the H1N1 virus. However, this is a laboratory-level research study, and is yet to be conducted on humans.
Nutrition Facts of Elderberry
A cup of elderberries has 106 calories. The total carbohydrate content in elderberries is 27 grams, containing 10 grams of dietary fiber. Elderberry is a rich source of vitamin C and provides 87% of the recommended daily intake.
It also has good amounts of vitamin A, B6, calcium, iron, and potassium, as well as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Other vitamins and minerals in elderberry include phosphorous, potassium, and manganese. Elderberries also have abundant amounts of anthocyanin antioxidants and polyphenolic flavonoid compounds such as kaempferol, isorhamnetin, quercetin, and more.
How to Make Elderberry Tea
Now that you know the benefits of elderberry tea, you might also want to know how to make elderberry tea. Before making elderberry tea, ensure that the elderberry fruits have been properly dried or boiled. Elderberry tea can also be made from elderberry syrup made from dried elderberries.
Simple Elderberry Tea Recipe
- 16 ounces of filtered water
- 2 tablespoons of dried elderberries
- 1 teaspoon of raw honey
- ¼ teaspoon of cinnamon powder
- ½ teaspoon of turmeric powder
In a small saucepan, add the elderberries and water. Then, add the cinnamon and turmeric. Bring the mixture to a boil at high heat, and then let it simmer for 15 minutes.
Remove the mixture from the heat and let it cool. Strain it into mugs and add honey. You can have it hot or refrigerate it to enjoy chilled elderberry tea.
Elderberry Syrup Tea Recipe
- 3 pounds of elderberries
- Hot water
Destem and wash the elderberries. Then, mash them and put them in a pot.
Bring the elderberries to a boil and pass them through a food mill or a jelly bag to extract the juice. Add an equal amount of sugar to the juice and boil.
Pour the mixture into a lidded jar. Pour one-fourth cup of this syrup into a mug and add hot water. Stir and enjoy the elderberry tea. You can add lemon or mint to enhance the flavor.
Knowing the benefits of elderberry tea and how to make it, you can still consume it in other forms, such as juice, jelly, jam, and syrup. You can also opt for cold elderberry soup, which will provide the same elderberry tea benefits. However, practice caution if you are diabetic or pregnant, on diuretic medications, or if you have autoimmune disorders such as arthritis. Also, these fruits have some toxicity. The unripe fruits, if eaten, cause nausea and vomiting. So, ensure the fruits are ripe, or eat them cooked or dried.
“How to Make Elderberry Tea (Powerful Natural Remedy),” Wellness Mama, February 28, 2017;
Parrish, R., “How to Make Elderberry Tea,” LEAFtv; https://www.leaf.tv/articles/how-to-make-elderberry-tea/, last accessed March 15, 2017.
Webb, D., “Anthocyanins,” Today’s Dietitian, March 2014; http://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/030314p20.shtml, last accessed March 15, 2017.
“Elderberry nutrition facts,” Nutrition-and-you; http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/elderberry.html, last accessed March 15, 2017.
“Elderberry: Natural Medicine for Colds, Flus, Allergies & More,” Dr Axe; https://draxe.com/elderberry/, last accessed March 15, 2017
“Elderberry,” University of Maryland Medical Center; http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/elderberry, last accessed March 16, 2017
“ELDERBERRY,” WebMD; http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-434-elderberry.aspx?activeingredientid=434&activeingredientname=elderberry, last accessed March 16, 2017