Elderflower appears in Volume One of The Alchemist's Cookbook Series, as Elderflower & Ginger Cordial. This is not only deliciously refreshing in the summer, cold, but also great for treating any congestion on the lungs in the winter if you make it with hot water. It comes under the “sweet” category of food, and is thus great for bringing balance to the stomach and spleen.
The great Cornish herbalist, William Henry Box England was a great believer in the healing properties of Elder, saying, "…for colds; influenza; fevers; inflammation of the brain; pneumonia (inflammation of the lungs); stomach; bowels or any part, this is a certain cure. I have never known it to fail, even when given up to and at the point of death. It will not only save at the eleventh hour, but at the last minute of that hour. It is so harmless that you cannot use it amiss, and so effectual that you cannot give it in vain." He set up his herbal practice in 1875. I share something with William Henry Box, as he discovered the wonders of herbs by chance! Where we differ is that he had been diagnosed in his teens with consumption – now called pulmonary tuberculosis – and the doctors thought he would die. He was cured by an old Cornish herbalist. He was thus inspired to devote his life to herbal medicine. He studied it for years in his free time before establishing his own business when he was 30 years old.
Elder was also called the medicine chest of the country people. John Evelyn writing in 1664 said "If the medicinal properties of its leaves, bark, and berries were fully known, I cannot tell what our country men would ail for which he might not fetch a remedy from every hedge either for sickness or wounds."
The flowers are also very effective when used at the onset of upper respiratory infection; colds; tonsillitis; sinusitis; laryngitis; flu; aching and chills. They are known to stimulate circulation. This thus encourages the body to sweat, which causes us to cleanses of toxins through the pores of the skin. This therefore heals the fever and infection, which is why, in combination with the ginger, also a known “warmer” and expeller, the cordial recipe is not only delicious, but also really beneficial for your health all year round.
Elderflower is also known to be an “eliminator” of toxins from the body, encouraging the body to eliminate poisons from your system.
Elder also has diuretic qualities. Why is this important? Well, diuretics increase urine flow by building permeability of kidney cells or by increasing the blood flow. The flowers help the kidney action by relieving fluid retention; getting rid of toxins, and clearing heat from the body by way of the urinary system.
The relaxant qualities of the flower is helpful to relieve bronchio spasms and catarrh, at the same time, for the asthma sufferer. They remove phlegm when one is suffering from sinusitis and hayfever problems. They can encourage sleep as well. Elderflowers are the mildest and safest part of the plant, even mild enough for small children. Elderflowers have a long history of use as a relaxant to soothe nerves, allay anxiety, and lift depression.