Berries from wild medicinal plants are some of our most valuable medicinals.
When we think of herbal medicines, we think of the roots, leaves or flowers, but many berries have their own healing contributions.
Berries arrive after the plants have flowered for the season and go to fruit. The beneficial energy of the plant has concentrated in these berries at this time. These are some of our best medicines for staying healthy.
Let’s look at three types of beneficial berries from wild medicinal plants; elderberry, hawthorn and rose hips. As always, be sure you know how to positively identify any plant you harvest from wild.
Elderberry, Sambucus nigra, Sambucus canadensis
The European black elderberry, Sambucus nigra is most commonly used in herbal medicine. Sambucus Canadensis is equally useful as medicine. It is found from Eastern Canada down through to South America. There are other black elderberries growing in many other parts of the world. Be sure not to use the red elderberries.
The elder bush has a rich tradition in folklore. You can find them growing in a variety of habitats, usually at the edges of farm fields or next to forests.
The berry is an excellent antiviral and immune booster. It’s one of the most recommended herbs for colds and flu. Many people take elderberry syrup or tincture throughout the winter season to help keep from getting the flu.
The berries contain anthocyanins which are common in red, blue and purple fruits. These have a number of health benefits such as providing antioxidants. These help reduce damage caused by free radicals. They are also good for the heart and help lower LDL cholesterol.
The berries are also high in vitamins A and C.
Hawthorn, Crataegus spp.
Hawthorn is a small tree with beautiful white to pink flowers in the spring similar to apple trees. While hawthorn flowers and leaves are often used in herbal medicine, the berries also make excellent medicine.
Hawthorn is one of the top herbal medicines for the heart and circulation. It strengthens the heart muscle, improving blood flow through the heart and arteries. This helps to regulate heart rhythm and blood pressure. Hawthorn also lowers harmful cholesterol which when combined with hypertension can lead to arteriosclerosis.
Be sure to take hawthorn tincture for at least four weeks for the best results. Hawthorn is very safe, however consult a doctor or qualified practitioner if taking any kind of heart medication.
Wild Rose, Rosa spp.
Both wild and cultivated roses are used medicinally. If using cultivated roses, look for the pink or red varieties. Also, make sure they have not been sprayed with chemicals.
The fruit, known as rose hip, appears in summer and ripens throughout the season into autumn.
Rosehips are valued for sour and cooling properties due to fruit acids and flavonoids. This is helpful for inflammatory conditions, fevers and clearing toxins from the body. Rose hips are also used for immune and vitamin C deficiencies. They are high in antioxidants countering the effects of heart disease, cancer, diabetes and cognitive decline.
Harvest the rosehips late in the season once they have turned a nice red color. After a light frost is best for flavor since some of the starches convert into a sugar. Just make sure they are not allowed to freeze solid.
Use rose hips in a tea, tincture or syrup.
Feel free to leave any comments or questions below. If you would like to learn more about herbal medicine, check out the Home Herb School at www.homeherbschool.com