In ancient Europe, elderberry bushes were thought to have magical properties. If you sat underneath it, supposedly fairies and elves would appear to you. Elderberry stems were thought to repel witches, kill serpents and fend off disease. Your elderberry bush may not have magical properties, but it does have a number of other uses. Nearly every part of the elderberry bush can be eaten or used as a curative or cosmetic.
Eat the elderberry's flowers and berries. The flowers can be fried, sautéed and made into tea or wine. Elderberries are delicious when dried or cooked and quite nutritious. They are full of antioxidants and stimulate the immune system. And since they function as a diuretic and detoxicant, they are often used as a weight-loss aid. However, when eaten raw, they frequently cause nausea.
Distill the elderberry bush's flowers for cosmetic use. When applied to the skin, it softens, tones, rejuvenates, lightens, cleans and soothes sunburn. The flowers can also be boiled in vinegar to make a natural black hair dye.
Use the elderberry bush's flowers to make a tincture. When inhaled, it can help break up mucus in the lungs and nasal passages. When applied topically, it reduces swelling and inflammation and soothes rashes, sore muscles and chilblains.
Make elderberry tea from elderberry leaves. This tea can alleviate flu and asthma symptoms, soothe an upset stomach and relieve gas.
Use the elderberry's leaves as an insect repellent. When crushed or broken, elderberry leaves release a chemical that repels insects. When ground and sprinkled over flowers, they can stave of aphid and caterpillar attacks.