Blog: Elderberry vs Echinacea: What’s the Difference? Part 1

COVID-19 surprised us, caught us off guard. Many wonder how best to prevent or support our immune systems through this crisis we are in. Not just for COVID but we still get colds and influenzas too. What helps?

Herbal teas nourish and provide many health benefits. Warm liquids are recommended to keep our mucous membranes healthy and resistant. I keep many dried plants as part of my home medicine chest, But, with any herb, it’s wise to know how to properly ID them in the wild, and know how to use them; what form is best.

One of my most popular blog posts talked about the value of elderberry. Family and friends frequently ask me about this woody shrub. With the COVID-19 flu virus causing unprecedented changes to our lives, I thought it worthwhile to look at the differences between elderberry and echinacea both used to support our immune systems during cold and flu season. I added echinacea here because folks wonder about that herb’s health benefits. Today, we’ll review elderberry. In Part 2, we’ll look at echinacea and then compare the two.

What is Elderberry?

Elderberry: Sambucus nigra, also known as European Elder. Elder has a rich history. One of its name origins is Aeld, which meant fire. The pith in young branches is soft and easily pushes out. A hollow tube remains which was used to stoke the kitchen fires. In ancient times pipes were made of elder wood, hence the common name, pipe tree. The hollow reed was fashioned into instruments and of course pea shooters.

Where Found: common to Europe and Northern Africa; now found all over the United States; in fact, it was thought this was the tree Judas chose to hang from. A fungus occurs on the elder, Hirroneola auricular Judaea, so named from the above historical story or myth. Elder is considered a small tree about 10-12’ high or a shrub. It is commonly found along wood edges, along with wood stands in fields, along banks and fences.  This plant is also nitrogen loving and in the Honeysuckle family. It flowers from May- June.  Fruit ripens in August. Virginia Tech has a great ID page and plant facts. Elder also has a similar looking plant called Pokeweed which I wrote about a while ago to help folks tell the difference between Elderberry and Pokeweed.

Parts Used: bark, leaves, flowers, and berries. Do not eat the bark, leaves raw. The dried flowers dried or fresh or dried berries are often taken in tea form.

Actions: The flowers and berries are ideal for colds and flu, even sinusitis or any inflammation of the upper respiratory tract.
“What our study has shown us is that the common elderberry has a potent direct antiviral effect against the flu virus,” said Dr. Golnoosh Torabian. It inhibits the early stages of infection by blocking key viral proteins responsible for both the viral attachment and entry into the host cells.” Does it work against COVID-19? That’s still in debate. But since our immune system can be attacked by these types of viruses, research is on.

James Duke, Ph.D., who wrote, Herb-a-Day studied the studies conducted on herbs. He recommended the elderberry for the flu. and his research states that this plant was used by many Native American tribes.

Sambucol, Sambucus, two popular names for commercial products fly off the shelves of health or natural supplement departments. I have heard many stories of folks getting through a winter with no or few respiratory ailments hitting their households when combining elderberry with good winter health practices. If a cold should hit, elderberry syrup supplements are often the herb of choice.  Research studies are being conducted by notable University’s Complementary and Alternative Medical Departments including the NIH. The German Commission E recommends elderberry and elderflower preparations for colds and flu even bronchitis.

Medical News Today states: One cup of elderberries contains 106 calories and 26.68 grams (g) of carbohydrate. A cup also contains the following vitamins and minerals:

  • 870 mg of vitamin A
  • 406 mg of potassium
  • 52.2 mg of vitamin C
  • 9 mg of folate
  • 55 mg of calcium
  • 2.32 mg of iron

Elderberries are also an excellent source of fiber, containing 10.2 g of dietary fiber per cup.

How used: Edler flowers can be brewed and taken as a tea. Elderberry syrup and lozenges are part of my home medicine chest. I usually use elderberry during the winter or if I am traveling to keep my immune system strong. In fact, there is some research that indicates it’s beneficial to take when flying. There are many products that are available for children too. In view of the recent flu outbreaks, I thought it important to get info out about this wonderful plant. The berries have a long “food as medicine” history and can be found recipes including wine, jams, vinegar, and more.

Nature has so many remedies for us. Doug Tallamy, a podcast guest on my show: Holistic Nature of Us, reminds us: our personal land can play a huge part in supporting wildlife. And Elderberry is a host plant for a variety of butterflies and moths.

Elder, referenced by Shakespeare and Pliny, holds a place of connection whether superstition, hedgerows, or poetry capturing us with its many uses and meanings.

Have you made elderberry vinegar or jam? Next week we’ll talk about echinacea and then compare the actions and uses of both plants. We enjoy hearing from you. Any comments or suggestions are always appreciated.

Enjoy. Judith

Podcast: Holistic Nature of Us: Kimberly Kresevic Returns

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Description: Kim Kresevic, founder of InSoil Health returns this week to talk about the link between soil health and our gut health. We need to appreciate healthy soils once again; living, biologically diverse nutrient-rich soil. Why? The healthier the soil, the more nutritious food is produced and that translates into healthier food for us to consume which means more robust, vibrant health. Soil science on this level is relatively new, yet so vital to agriculture whether backyard farming or mega-farming. Microbes offer so much to soil integrity and microbes offer so much in our biology.
Join Kimberly and me for another engaging discussion about soil and gut health.

About My Guest: Kimberley Kresevic is President and Founder of InSoil Health, a data analytics and educational consultancy based out of Northeast Ohio. With diverse experience in both healthcare and biological cultivation, Kim brings a unique systems-based approach to current food production challenges.  Driven by the principle that nutrition is the foundation of human health and vitality, Kim works with growers in all walks of life and at all scales to improve food quality using natural biological techniques. By focusing on soil population data, systems improvement, and the human health value proposition, Kim helps growers invigorate the Soil Foodweb, reduce input costs, and eliminate the toxic environmental effects of synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides.

Transcript: #56 Kim Kresevic #2 

Podcast: Holistic Nature of Us: Meet Lois Grasso, Transformational Breath and EFT Tapping

Description: Yogis teach us to be grateful for our breath of life. Without our breath, we do not exist. My guest this week, Lois Grasso, explains how we tend to stuff our emotions, especially as children. She encourages us to breathe with intention, pay attention to our breath. After all, its the most essential element in keeping us alive. But did you know breathing with intention can relieve us of anxiety and other emotions that perhaps we keep hidden inside?

Lois Grass, aka Mimi Stevens, is also the author of a children’s book, Maven and the Magic Buttons. She wrote the book to teach children to use EFT tapping to handle emotional stuff they may be too young to understand. I hope you will join us for an enlighting discussion about two effective modalities.

About My Guest: Since 1991, Lois Grasso has been passionate about her mission to empower and motivate people to take good care of themselves – physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. In the ‘90s, she was the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of The Self-Health Networker, a monthly newsmagazine featuring national and CT health experts. She later became certified in Transformational Breath®, while editing and publishing the founder’s book on the subject, and began her private practice as a Transformational Breath Coach in 2002. She founded the non-profit OxyGenesis Institute in 2003 and has since facilitated 10 international Holistic Health events, including 3 cruise conferences. Today, Mimi still loves public speaking and private coaching to help people get happy and healthy using breathing practices, EFT Tapping, conscious communication skills, and her own modality, “On-the-Ball Anger Clearing”. Today, she also empowers elementary school children (and their adults) via her most ambitious program ever… “Whole Schools Tap Into Happy” is based upon her book, Maven & the Magic Buttons, which she has authored under the pen name “Mimi Stevens”. The book and program make conscious breathing and EFT Tapping easy for kids to learn so they can relieve their own physical pain and emotional stress.

Transcript:   #33 Lois Grasso

Podcast: Holistic Nature of Us: Meet Eaglemoon Raes, Holographic Healer

Description: Our physical bodies are composed of trillions of cells organized into community specialties. Though every cell may have the same program capabilities, a cell in the eye knows to turn on eye function, not liver function. Complex and even mysterious we have not unlocked the mysteries contained within our own bodies. Tai chi experts suggest we give thanks to each community in our bodies for the incredible integration that occurs.

Eaglemoon  Raes gives us stories and practical examples of how our body is like nature and what healing successes she has seen. Inspiring and miraculous, I hope you will enjoy this discussion. She discusses and refers to Holographic healing: which “accesses patterns of energy and makes changes directly at that point, rather than “running” or channeling energy. The patterns are biological information fields which form an active, constantly resonating matrix. This matrix and its interconnections provide a continuum for rapid, coherent intercommunication throughout the body. The vibrations and waveforms in this matrix can be changed, so a practitioner can collapse the current reality, such as an injury pattern or some stuck situation within the body or emotions, and introduce new information to produce new possibilities that are more useful.”

About My Guest: Eaglemoon Raes is a licensed Avatar® Master and Wizard. In addition, she is known to be a
gifted healer and has been trained as a Usui and karuna™ Reiki Master/teacher, a holographic
healer, a Guided Self-healing practitioner, an EFT practitioner, and is a certified hypnotist.

Transcript:  Eaglemoon Raes #29 

Podcast: The Holistic Nature of Us: Meet Deb Sodergren

Description: This podcast takes another look at holism from a practitioner’s viewpoint who experienced an out of body experience at the age of four. Meet Deb Sodergren as she shares her story, her wisdom about healing. Join us for an uplifting holistic discussion for health and well-being.

About My guest:  Deb is an Energy Body Vibration Expert/International Speaker/Author and owner of Up Vibrations, LLC. She graduated from the New England School of Metaphysics in 1998 and is a nationally certified as a Reiki Master Teacher and certified to teach Metaphysics and Meditation. She is also an Infinite Possibilities Certified Trainer. “My philosophy of healing is based on taking care of my clients with alternative healing modalities and sometimes with traditional allopathic medicine to ensure that the individual’s whole self is being maintained and balanced. I bring to my practice a deep understanding of the human energy field and the body, mind, and spirit connection as well as extensive training in the areas of Reiki, meditation, chakra balancing, vibrational medicine, channeling, death & dying, infinite possibilities mindset and others.

Transcript:  #28 Deb Sodergren

Podcast: Meet Janet Verney: Wellness Designer

Description: Janet Verney shares her journey of seeking a diagnosis from a serious but unsolved lung ailment, undergoing multiple and complicated testing to letting go. It’s not an easy task to find health solutions but Janet’s journey inspires us as she learned about gut health, the detrimental effects of NSAIDS, (non- steroidal,  anti-inflammatory drugs, usually over the counter) and more. She offers practical health tips as she recounts her journey.

About My Guest: Janet Verney is certified in Integrative Health and specializes in Women’s Wellness. As The Wellness Designer, she creates fun and educational programs for women around the world. Janet is passionate about living a rich and full life through delicious food and an abundant lifestyle!

Transcript:  #25 Janet Varney

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