Elder flowers are long known to be a valued medicinal herb and have particular benefits for the respiratory system. According to herbalists, elder flower (and berry) is used for combatting colds, boosting immune systems, reducing fevers and especially reliving mucous and inflammation. You can drink it as a tea (fresh or dried flowers) or make a poultice or ointment for wounds. You can also easily prepare a tincture for winter storage. This year I am drying some flowers for storage. Dried elder flower can be found in many health food stores. Rheumatics benefit from inflammation reduction according to what I have read.
Once the delicate white flowers drop away, tiny green berries are left behind. These will mature into dark rich blackish purple ones. Come August, I make elderberry syrup and jelly from the berries and preserve it for the winter months. The syrup is excellent in food preparation and also during flu and cold season. The jelly is just yummy. You can also make a tasty cordial out of it. Who knew medicine could taste that good? That's the way nature intended it.
According to herbalists, asthmatics have benefitted greatly from elder flower tea during hay fever season, but there's a whole host of other uses for this amazing shrub/tree.