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A review of traditional herbal medicinal products with disease claims for elder (Sambucus nigra) flower

Knudsen, B. F., Kaack, K. V.
Acta horticulturae 2015 no.1061 pp. 109-120
Sambucus nigra, World Health Organization, bark, bronchitis, common cold, cough, elderberries, fever, flowers, fruits, health claims, human diseases, indigenous peoples, inflammation, leaves, medicinal plants, medicine, respiratory system
European elder (Sambucus nigra) is traditionally used as a medicinal plant by many native peoples and herbalists alike. Stem bark, leaves, flowers, fruits, and root extracts are used to treat bronchitis, cough, upper respiratory infections, and fever. Several pharmacopoeias have for centuries included Sambuci flos or dried flower of elderberry, and numerous recognized textbooks and monographs have described the medicinal use of elderberry flower. Thus in 2002, WHO (World Health Organization) published a monograph which stated that although no controlled clinical data are available, the descriptions in pharmacopoeias and traditional systems of medicine justify the use of elder flower herbal preparation “as a diaphoretic for treatment of fever and chills, and as an expectorant for treatment of mild inflammation of the upper respiratory tract; also for symptomatic treatment of the common cold”. In 2008, EMA (European Medicinal Agency) issued the Community herbal monograph on Sambucus nigra flos with the following approval: “Herbal medicinal product traditionally used for the relief of early symptoms of common cold. The product is a traditional herbal medicinal product for use in specified indications exclusively based upon long-standing use”. This review summarizes the plethora of medicinal and human disease/health claims made for elder flower.