June 16, 2023

Elderflower – a medicinal treasure chest.

I don’t pretend to be a doctor, or even a herbalist.  I am definitely not a professional forager, but I do like to study and utilise the plants and trees that are around us to see how they will improve my health and nutrition.  There are so many plants that we pass every day in the hedgerows, growing in our gardens, and creeping through the cracks in the concrete, and often we see them as a nuisance, or we don’t even notice them.  We don’t realise that many of them can cure ailments or add much needed nutrition.  The knowledge that our ancestors had is now lost for the majority of people.  Instead, we mainly go to the nearest pharmacy and shell out our hard, earned money for some cream or medicine.

Elderflower is something that I have picked in the past to make a cordial, but after looking into the health benefits in more detail, I now know that it is like a little treasure chest of medicinal cures.   People often think that it is the berries that are good for us, but the flowers have been shown to have 10 times the number of antioxidants. Elderflower has actually been used to heal people since prehistoric times (around 3000BC), as bodies have been exhumed with tinctures buried with them (though I guess it did not do them any good!). This year I am going to dry some flowers to make tea so that I can continue to benefit from this plant even when it is out of season. Here are some of the healing benefits I have discovered about Elderflower. For some areas of health there have not been enough studies to confirm the benefits, but they have been used historically for this purpose.

Colds and Flu

Studies have shown since the 1930s that it can prevent flu, and in 2006 it was even shown to prevent a strain of avian flu. It is full of antioxidants and vitamin C, is anti-viral, and is a diaphoretic which causes sweating and helps the body to cool. Elderflower also improves our immune system and has been said to help drain mucus. If gargled as a cold tea, it can even help to soothe a sore throat.

Hay fever and allergies

If you consistently drink elderflower tea throughout the hay fever season it will reduce the symptoms of itchy and runny eyes and nose.  It contains natural antihistamines.


Elderflower contains quercetin which helps reduce cholesterol levels and works in a similar way to insulin.

Balances blood sugar

Studies have shown that elderflower extracts help the body balance and maintain blood sugar levels as it helps the muscles absorb glucose.


Studies in 1985 and 2006 showed that it could fight pathogens often found in hospitals, such as MRNA and can act as an antiseptic.

Joints and skin.

Elderflower contains quercetin which is often an ingredient of skin creams and helps sufferers of arthritis and joint pain as it protects the joints and blood cells from being damaged.  In the Victorian era elderflower infused water was used to reduce spots and to clean the skin.  Historically it was also used to soothe chicken pox and measles.


If tea is cooled and used as a mouth wash it can help reduce inflamed gums

Premature aging

The antioxidants present in elderflower neutralise free radicals that cause aging.  Salves and creams made with the flowers are beneficial to the skin and a cooled tea helps relieve sun burn.


Studies have shown that it can aid digestion and calm the stomach when drunk as a tea. It helps with wind, acid reflux, gastric infections, bloating and heart burn. However, it helps with constipation and can act as a laxative if too much tea is taken.


Washing the eye with cold elderflower tea will soothe and reduce conjunctivitis


A hot cup of elderflower tea before you go to bed has historically being used to induce sleep.


Drinking elderflower as a tea is supposed to be calming and helps reduce stress.  Studies have found that it has properties that help calm the nerves and allow people to relax.  It also helps with some of the symptoms of depression, apparently, and people have been known to use it to reduce the symptoms of grief.

An insecticide

In Victorian times people would wear a sprig of elderflower in the band of their hat to keep midges at bay, and would put bashed branches of elderflower amongst their crops to reduce caterpillars and aphids.  In the past horses would have them around their necks to keep flies at bay.


Always speak to your doctor before trying herbal remedies. Elderflower can lower your blood pressure and so this is not good if you are a diabetic and taking medication, or if you are expecting to have surgery in the near future.  It is advised to stop drinking elderflower 2 weeks before expected surgery.  Elderflower can also act as a laxative and so it is best not to drink too much.  If too much elderflower is eaten raw it can cause vomiting, diarrhoea and nausea. The chemical that causes these symptoms is killed when boiled.



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  1. Katie Naden June 27, 2023 at 6:17 am - Reply

    Wow that’s amazing . I’ve probably missed my chance this year but will get some again. I love how you research the history of natures gifts . Thank you so much for sharing . X

    • ToniG June 27, 2023 at 11:46 am - Reply

      I am just looking for ways to save on nutrition and medication as I have realised that nature provides everything that we need for our health for free . Thanks x

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