Almost every part of the plant, including flowers, leaves, berries, bark and roots have been used in traditional folk medicine. The herb also has a rich background that dates back to the stoneage. Egyptians discovered that applying its flowers can improve the complexion and heal burns. The 17th century British drank home made wine and cordials because it was thought to prolong life and cure the common cold. To read more about elderberry's history go to http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/e/elder-04.html#ber--- We recommend that you only eat the fruit or flowers. Although other concoctions are listed at the above website and others, bark, roots and stems can be poisonous. Remember that dose makes the poison.
The elderberries themselves contain a large amount of vitamin C, as well as vitamins A and B. They also contain flavonoids, sugar, tanins, carotenoids, and amino acids. Many of these compounds are free radical scrubbers, hence can play a role cancer prevention. Warm elderberry wine is a remedy for a sore throat, influenza, and induces perspiration to combat against chills. Infusions of the fruit are touted to be beneficial for nerve disorders and back pain, and have even been used to reduce inflammation of the urinary tract and bladder. The flowers are a mild astringent, and can be used in skin washes to improve complexion and relieve eczema, acne, and psoriasis. Leaves and flowers are often ingredients in ointments and poultices for burns, scalds, swelling, cuts, and scrapes.
Scientists working in Israel, tested a standardized elderberry extract on 40 individuals who were suffering from symptoms of the flu. Dosage includes four tablespoons per day in adults and two tablespoons per day in children for three days. In 93 percent of the cases, a significant improvement in symptoms occurred within two days, versus six days for the control group. Complete cure occurred in two to three days in around 90 percent of the elderberry group. These results are considered preliminary and should be confirmed on a larger scale study.