The Herbal Bear - Newsletters

January 2010 Newsletter

In this issue

  • Elderberry - An Herb for Flu Season
  • Making Elderberry Syrup
  • The Herbal Bear Classes
  • The 2010 Botanical Medicine Program 

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Elderberry fruits 

Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis, Sambucus nigra)
By Ursula Basch                                                                          
Herbal Bear School of Botanical Medicine

Elderberries have been used as an herbal remedy for centuries. Widely used  in North America, Europe, Western Asia, and North Africa, Elderberry is used for its antioxidant activity to boost the immune system, for coughs, colds, flu, bacterial and viral infections.   In a placebo-controlled double-blind study, Elderberry was shown to be effective for treating Influenza B.1 with the result that those who took elderberry juice reported less severe symptoms and felt better much faster than those who did not.

Elderberry in flower

A recent study in 2009 2  showed that Elderberry extract inhibited Human Influenza A (H1N1) infection. Flavonoids from the Elderberry extract bind to H1N1 virions and, when bound, block the ability of the viruses to infect host cells.

Elderberries contain organic pigments, tannin, amino acids, carotenoids, flavonoids, sugar, rutin, viburnic acid, vitaman A and B and a large amount of vitamin C.  Elderberry  anthocyanins enhance immune function by boosting the production of cytokines. Cytokines act as messengers in the immune system to help regulate immune response,  helping to defend the body against disease. The anthocyanins found in elderberries possess appreciably more antioxidant capacity than either vitamin E or vitamin C 3.

Elderberries  are also mildly laxative,  diuretic, and diaphoretic. Flavonoids, including quercetin, are believed to account for the therapeutic actions of the elderberry flowers and berries. According to test tube studies  these flavonoids include anthocyanins that are powerful antioxidants and protect cells against damage.

1. J Alt Compl Mod 1995: 1:361-69
2. Phytochemistry. 2009 Jul;70(10):1255-61. Epub 2009 Aug 12.Elderberry flavonoids bind to and prevent H1N1 infection in vitro.
3. Youdim KA, Martin A, Joseph JA. Incorporation of the elderberry anthocyanins by endothelial cells increases protection against oxidative stress.

Making Elderberry Syrup
Makes 1 quart

Make sure the cookware you're using is made of stainless steel. If you use an aluminum or enamel the juice from the elderberries will stain the cookware purple.

2-pounds elderberries - be sure to remove all woody stems.
4 cups  water
2½  cups sugar
1 tsp. freshly-squeezed lemon juice

1. Place the elderberries in a large, stainelss steel pot with the water. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simer and cook for 15-20 minutes, until tender and soft.

2. Pass through a food mill or a sine mesh strainer and discard the skins.

3. Pour the juice back into the pot, add sugar, and cook at a low boil over moderate heat for 15 minutes, until the syrup has thickened. Add a spritz of lemon juice. Cool completely.

4. Pour into a bottle or jar and store in the refrigerator.

Elderberry Syrup is delicious used over pancakes, waffles or added to plain yogurt.


Upcoming Classes:

The following classes are listed by program dates. To view classes listed by location please see our programs page. To view a full description of the class or to register on line for any class please click on the individual class.


We are currently accepting applications for the 2010 Botanical Medicine Program.

2010 Botanical Medicine Program
A six weekend intensive program for those interested in a well rounded education in herbal studies. This class is designed to give  students a solid foundation in herbalism.  Each class we will learn about herbs for the different systems including: the digestive, nervous, cardiac, reproductive, and immune system.  Students will learn plant identification, harvesting techniques, medicinal plant preparations and herbal formula development.   This class is held in the Northern Catskills on a private 30 acre property.  Many of the medicinal plants we study are growing in our gardens or found on our property.  Unlike other herbals classes, this class incorporates field work with the plants.  You will be able to see, study and harvest medicinal plants throughout the entire growing season.  This class is designed for beginning and intermediate herbal students. For a full description of this class - please follow
this link

If you have any specific questions about our programs, please feel free to contact us

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