Friday, 20 January 2012

A salve for bruises made from the bark of the Elder tree

Elder (Sambucus nigra) has a long and traditional use in herbal medicine, the berries and flowers are well known for their treatment of colds and flu. The bark is not generally used today. If taken internally it is known to cause vomiting so herbalists avoid it.

Today, I was going to pick and use the bark to make an oil and a salve where it is useful for bruises.

Identifying the tree this time of year proved to be a problem to begin with. The leaves, berries and flowers that normally distinguish the elder tree are all gone, and what is left is just the twigs.
Many of the trees are bare, and I learned that identifying trees by their leaves is not enough this time of the year.

However, with some investigation, and some advice from several people in my herb group, I managed to find and identify some elder trees in the area. Now, when I go for a walk, I see them everywhere, their distinguishing feature is the main stem looks withered and aged, whereas the new growth grows vertical, standing tall, and looks fresh.
Young Elder bark

Older withered trunks
Having picked some branches, I then used a penknife to strip the bark from the pithy fleshy inside, it is the bark that I was going to use to make my remedy.
Collected bark of the elder tree
Stripping the bark from the branch
I then put half the bark into olive oil, and steamed it in a saucepan for 2 hours
Back and olive oil
Left to steam for 2 hours
I then sieved the heated bark and replaced with the second half of the bark (this is called double infused)
And left to steam for another 2 hours.
After this time, I sieved it again, and added some beeswax to some of the oil as I wanted to make a salve from some of it, and the beeswax helps to solidify the oil, plus it is a very natural moistening component of the salve.
Beeswax in some of the oil
This I then decanted into bottles:
Ready for when someone gets bruised
The oil kept as a liquid without beeswax added


  1. Very nice blog, Shadona :)good picture of the old bark! I should have included a picture like that on my identifying elder post.. maybe I should edit and add one like it so the post is more complete? Have a beautiful day! Love, Leslie xx

  2. Love the photo's . thank you I think you've just helped me confirm I have a young elder as a waking stick. Plus I may be able to use it as part of the January tasks. Thank you. Your blog is wonderfully informative & instructive.