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Elderberries Enhance Night Vision and More

Jul 3, 2008
Elderberry bushes, or elder trees, grow small dark berries called elderberries. The European Elder is a hardy plant found across Europe and North America, growing in moist soil along streams and roadways.

Elderberry bushes are fast-growing and have compound leaves and tightly clustered bunches of tiny white flowers in late spring, followed by clusters of berries in late summer. The European elderberries are black to dark blue, and are most frequently used in recipes, extracts, and syrups. The American Elder, also popular, is said to be slightly sweeter. It is found most anywhere east of the Rockies. Some species have life spans between 80 and 100 years.

If the ancient Greeks are any authority, elderberries are healthy for us! Hippocrates referred to it as his "medicine chest." It has been used for centuries to treat such things as asthma, arthritis, constipation, and the common cold.

Elderberries not only strengthen the immune system, but also are a great source of potassium and vitamin C.

Elderberries also reduce the risk of atherosclerosis by keeping platelets from adhering to the blood vessel walls. This reduces risks caused by bad cholesterol. But perhaps its most famous benefit is providing the body with anthocyanins. These are antioxidants that protect the body cells from damage caused by stress, poor diet, or environmental toxins.

Elderberries actually enhance night vision because they make rhodopsin or visual purple in the eyes. This helps in seeing in reduced lighting. It also helps in dealing with stress according to recent studies.

The white flowers of the elderberry bush may be pressed into tonics, lightly battered and fried into fritters, or stirred into muffin or sponge cake mix for a light, sweet flavor. Elderberry may be purchased either as a juice or juice ingredient, and as a dietary supplement. Suggested dosage is 400 mg of a 6 percent anthocyanin extract daily.

The ripe berries, cleaned and cooked, can be made into many things: extracts, syrups, pies, jams, or used as garnish, dye, or flavoring. Some eat them uncooked but they do contain toxins and it is better to be safe by washing and cooking them before eating. Also, elderberries are bitter and need sweetener to be palatable. Many like to cook them with other fruit like apples or pears to sweeten them. The tiny seeds in the berry leave a gritty taste, even after cooking, but the seeds are safe.

Avoid ingesting red elderberries. They contain toxins that could cause sickness, even after being cooked. The purple, black, and blue berries are safe when washed and cooked first. Also, the leaves, unripe berries, stems, twigs, and roots should not be eaten.
About the Author
There are many ways you can enjoy the power of the elderberry. The important thing is to make sure the form in which you buy elderberry will give you all the benefits the elderberry herbs has to offer.
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