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BRENDA GILL: Elderberry Harvest

Now that you’re into the swing of putting away berries and other fruit for the winter, it’s time to start thinking about making your elderberry tincture. Elderberry trees are thin, mid-sized trees that look almost like tall bushes that branch out with narrow, long leaves and have an umbrella-like berry formation at the end of the branches. The berries are purply blue and quite small-about the size of peppercorns.

You often see them growing along a roadside, but, those you don’t want to pick due to the absorption of chemicals from passing vehicles. However, they are plentiful if you go for a hike in the surrounding mountains of our area. Pick about 8-12 umbrellas of berries from the ends of the branches and rinse under water. Remove the berries from their umbrella braches and pack a quart jar with the berries.

Pour your favorite liquor on top- I typically use vodka, but, you can use brandy, rum, whatever you like. Cover the jar with a sealer lid and set on a saucer and sit it on a sunny counter or in a window. Every week, shake upside down 4-5 times and return to the saucer for at least a month until the liquid is a dark purple colour. At this point, you can strain off the berries and pour the liquid into a bottle. I use the brown 500ml tincture bottles, since the top seals well, but, any sealer bottle will do. Strain off the liquid from the berries and put ½ tsp of the tincture in the smoothies or in water for the winter.

Elderberries are an incredibly strong bioflavinoid and anti-oxidant. Many of you have read about the latest and greatest bioflavinoid- gogi/acaci berries. They are all the same thing- wonderful bioflavinoids, just like elderberries, but, these grown right in our backyard and are free for the picking!

Bioflavinoids maximize the immune function by increasing the number & activity of white blood cells. So, to prevent & treat all those flus this winter and especially whooping cough, use elderberry tincture.

They also help to minimize the immune system’s production of histamine, and all other inflammatory products by stabilizing the system. Therefore, they minimize allergy symptoms of runny noses, scratchy eyes, sinus congestion, skin rashes, asthma and any other over-reaction of the immune system.

They also strengthen the walls of arteries and veins, so, are great for varicose veins, hemorrhoids and ulcerations, prevent arteriosclerosis, atherosclerosis and high blood pressure. I always use them in any cancer, since they help to regulate proper immune function. NOTE THAT THEY DO NOT OVER-STIMULATE THE IMMUNE FUNCTION AND, THEREFORE, DECREASE THE EFFECTIVENESS OF CHEMOTHERAPY OR RADIATION! THEY HAVE BEEN SHOWN TO DO THE EXACT OPPOSITE! YES, THEY INCREASE THE EFFECTIVENESS OF CHEMO AND RADIATION AND HAVE THE ADDED BONUS OF MINIMIZING THE SIDE EFFECTS OF HEART AND VESSEL WALL DAMAGE!

I also use them to improve that failing eyesight, macular degeneration and glaucoma.
As you can see, there are many uses for this spectacular small tree, so, get out there for that wonderful sunshine and bring a bag with you to collect your winter’s harvest.

For those who can’t make the trek, you can always call our office for a tincture of elderberry. It is available in a one month size.

Dr. Brenda Gill is a naturopath practising in Rossland, BC.