Scientific name: Sambucus nigra (Black Elder), Sambucus canadensis

Common names: American Elder, Sweet Elder, Common Elder, 

Ayurvedic names:

Chinese names:

Bangladesh names:

Arabic names:    البيلسان (al balsaan)

Rain Forest names:

Family: Caprifoliaceae

Approximate number of species known:

Common parts used: Flower, fruit, bark, leaf, root

Collection: july to september

Annual/Perennial: Annual often treated as perennial

Height: 5 to 12 feet

Actions:  Bark:  Diuretic, emetic, purgative   Flower: Anti-catarrhal, diaphoretic, pectroal Fruit: Diaphoretic, diuretic, laxative Leaf: purgative, expectorant, diuretic, diaphoretic

Known Constituents: Fruit: Tannin, Vitamin C, Vitamin P?, anthrocyanic pigment   Flowers: usually >.8% flavanoids expressed as isoquercitroside (C21, H20, 012) Flavanoids including rutin, isoquercitrine, kampherol; hydrocyanic glycoside sambunigrine, tannin

Constituents Explained:


The flowers are normally about 5mm in diameter

Traditional Use:

A tree, that both the flowers and the berries are used for colds, flus and fevers.  The berries contain high amounts of Vitamin C.

The flowers have sometimes been used to assist the kidneys in releasing urine, and to take waste products that may relieve the symptoms of joint aches and pains.

The tea from the flowers has been used as an eyewash, and for skin problems.1  It sometimes has laxative properties.1 The fresh plant can be poisonous.1? Is it a plant or tree?

Externally the leaf is used for skin problems.

Clinical Studies:

A study investigated the information on the content of co-active compounds of a food supplement recommended as a weight reduction diet and on its short-term effectiveness and safety as a starter for lifestyle change.

Eighty participants completed the protocol. The Sambucus nigra L. berry juice enriched with flower extract and tablets containing berry powder and flower extract provided a total of 1 mg anthocyanins, 370 mg flavonol glycosides and 150 mg hydroxycinnamates per day.

The Asparagus officinalis L. powder tablets provided 19 mg saponins per day. After the diet, the mean weight, blood pressure, physical and emotional well-being and the quality of life had significantly improved.

The effectiveness and tolerability of the regimen were rated as very good or good by most of the completers.

A phytotherapic compound containing Pimpinella anisum L., Foeniculum vulgare Miller, Sambucus nigra L., and Cassia augustifolia is largely used in Brazil for the treatment of constipation. However, the laxative efficacy of the compound has never been tested in a randomized clinical trial.

A randomized, crossover, placebo-controlled, single-blinded trial included 20 patients presenting with chronic constipation according to the criteria of the American Association of Gastroenterology was conducted.

The order of treatments was counterbalanced across subjects: half of the subjects received the phytotherapic compound for a 5-day period, whereas the other half received placebo for the same period. Both treatment periods were separated by a 9-day washout period followed by the reverse treatment for another 5-day period. 

The primary endpoint was colonic transit time (CTT), measured radiologically. Secondary endpoints included number of evacuations per day, perception of bowel function, adverse effects, and quality of life.

Mean CTT assessed by X ray was 15.7 hours in the active treatment period and 42.3 hours during the placebo treatment. Number of evacuations per day increased during the use of active tea; significant differences were observed as of the second day of treatment.

Patient perception of bowel function was improved, but quality of life did not show significant differences among the study periods. Except for a small reduction in serum potassium levels during the active treatment, no significant differences were observed in terms of adverse effects throughout the study period. 

The findings of this randomized controlled trial allow to conclude that the phytotherapic compound assessed has laxative efficacy and is a safe alternative option for the treatment of constipation.


Chrubasik C, Maier T, Dawid C, Torda T, Schieber A, Hofmann T, Chrubasik S. “An Observational Study And Quantifications Of The Actives In A Supplement With Sambucus Nigra And Asparagus Officinalis Used For Weight Reduction.” 2008 July

Picon PD, Picon RV, Costa AF, Sander GB, Amaral KM, Aboy AL, Henriques AT. “Randomized Clinical Trial Of Phytotherapic Compound Containing Pimpinella Anisum, Foeniculum Vulgare, Sambucus Nigra, And Cassia Augustifolia For Chronic Constipation.” 2010 April


Herb Name: Elder

Others names: Common elder, elder flower, Sweet elder, American elder

Latin name: Sambucus nigra L.

Family: Caprifoliaceae

Common part used: Flowers, Bark, Leaves, Fruit, Roots 

Description: Elder is a rather large shrub with corky brown-gray bark, feathery leaves, and small scented off-white flowers, which turn into black berries.

Properties: Elder is an herb that is used in herbal medicine to treat flu, lower fever, soothe irritation, and to reduce inflammation. This herb is also an insecticide. It is a bitter, cooling, and pungent herb. The flowers are diuretic, anti-inflammatory, laxative, antiviral, and anti-mucus. The fruits are antioxidant, anti-mucus, and diuretic. The leaves of Elder are insecticidal. 

Contents: Elder flowers and leaves have isoquercitrin, rutin, and hyperoside. The flowers additionally have organic acids, chlorogenic acid, and triterpenoids. The fruits also contain lectins, tannins and anthocyanins. The seeds contain cyanogenic glycosides.

Internal use: Internally, Elder flowers are used to treat colds, influenza, sinusitis, mucus, feverish illnesses, and a range of other problems related to the upper respiratory tract. Elder fruits have analgesic effects, and are commonly used in treating rheumatic complaints. The fruits also possess diuretic, diaphoretic, and laxative properties. The bark is used for arthritic conditions and constipation.

External use: Externally, the leaves and the corky bark can be used for chilblains and minor burns. The flowers are helpful for irritated or inflamed skin, minor injuries, mouth ulcers and sore eyes.

Essential oil and aromatherapy use: Not noted.

Safety precautions: The leaves and berries have toxic elements in them, and are poisonous. This medicinal plant has to be used with care.