American elder was widely employed as a medicinal herb by many native North American tribes who used it to treat a wide range of complaints. It is still commonly used as a domestic remedy. Tea made from the inner bark and root bark is diuretic, emetic and a strong laxative. Tea made from the root bark is used to promote labor in childbirth and in treating headaches, kidney problems and mucous congestion. The inner bark is also applied as a poultice to cuts, and sore or swollen limbs in order to relieve pain and swelling. A poultice of the leaves is applied to bruises and to cuts in order to stop the bleeding. An infusion of the leaf buds is strongly purgative. Elder flowers are stimulant, diaphoretic, and diuretic. A warm tea of the flowers acts as a stimulant and induces sweating; taken cold it is diuretic. It is used in the treatment of fevers and infant colic. An infusion of the leaves and flowers is used as an antiseptic wash for skin problems and wounds.
(This article was originally published on 031017 in Issue 4 of the EBG Newsletter.)