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Sambucus (elder or elderberry) is a genus of flowering plants in the family Adoxaceae. They bear large clusters of small white or cream-colored flowers in late spring; these are followed by clusters of small black, blue-black, or red berries. These Central European and North American natives are often found growing wild along roadsides, forest edges and abandoned fields.


The berries are popularly used to make medicine.Some people use elderberry for hay fever (allergic rhinitis), cancer, as a laxative for constipation, to increase urine flow, and to cause sweating. Elderberries contain more phosphorus and potassium than any other temperate fruit crop. The fruit is also rich in vitamin C and as a supplement it is often used for colds and flu.


The leaves are innately compound, with five to eleven leaflets averaging 5 inches in length and having finely serrate margins. The flower cluster, which is called a cyme, ranges from 3 to 10 inches in diameter. The plants are extremely winter hardy, the flowers are pleasantly scented, and the plant may be used as an ornamental.


Elderberries contain organic pigments, tannin, amino acids, carotenoids, flavonoids, sugar, rutin, viburnic acid, vitamin A and B and a large amount of vitamin C. They are also mildly laxative, a diuretic, and diaphoretic. Elderberry is used for its antioxidant activity, to lower cholesterol, to improve vision, to boost the immune system, to improve heart health and for coughs, colds, flu, bacterial and viral infections and tonsillitis. Bioflavonoid and other proteins in the juice destroy the ability of cold and flu viruses to infect a cell. If you take any drugs or supplements regularly, talk to your doctor before you start using elderberry supplements.


Because of serious potential risks, elderberry is not recommended for children or for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. People who have an allergy to elder pollen might react to elderberry supplements. If you have diabetes, multiple sclerosis, lupus, or rheumatoid arthritis, talk to your doctor before taking elderberry.


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