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Natural Awakenings

Elderberry Elixir: Backyard Medicine Chest

New research is turning up another natural remedy to mend what ails us. Native to both North America and Europe and historically appreciated by Hippocrates as “nature’s medicine chest,” elderberries are especially rich in antioxidants, putting them near the top of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) list. Both the flowers and fruit are used to make tea, juice, wine, preserves and nutraceutical products to treat a variety of ills.

International herbalist James Duke, Ph.D., author of The Green Pharmacy, recognizes the elderberry’s age-old reputation as a remedy for viral infections and for treating cough, flu and tonsillitis. It’s even being studied for its activity against HIV and for regulating blood sugar.

Researchers at the University of Missouri-Columbia are examining its potential for preventing strokes and prostate cancer, reducing inflammation and boosting resistance to infectious diseases. They’re set to host the first International Symposium on the Elderberry, from June 9 to 14, 2013.

Terry Durham, a farmer and conservationist in Ashland, Missouri, describes elderberries—which are typically harvested in late August through early September—as “the superfruit in our own backyard.”

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