Elderberry has become wildly popular over the last few years, but is it worth all of the hype? In this article, we’ll dig into the many health benefits of elderberry and how you can use it to benefit your body.
Elderberry is a natural herb that has been used for centuries as an herbal remedy.
In fact, it was written about by Hippocrates, Dioscorides, and Pliny, ancient fathers of medicine. The Elder tree was so popular for its medicinal virtues that it was known as “the medicine chest of country people”.
While elderberry is commonly thought of as an immune health aid, it has other health benefits as well.
Table of Contents
- What is Elderberry?
- Health Benefits of Elderberry:
- Elderberry Safety:
What is Elderberry?
Elderberry is the dark purple berry that’s produced by European elder trees.
Known scientifically as Sambucus nigra, the elder tree grows throughout Europe, North America, Asia, and Northern Africa.
Elderberries have been used for millennia as both a food and a medicine.
Health Benefits of Elderberry:
Below are the top research-backed benefits of elderberry.
1. May Support Immune Health
Elderberry is one of the most popular natural remedies for immune health.
Elderberry is a popular supplement that’s commonly used to treat colds and flus. Elderberry’s immune system-boosting properties have been proven out through a variety of clinical trials.
A clinical trial found that elderberry extract helped to reduce cold duration and severity in air travelers. The study was conducted with 312 economy class passengers traveling from Australia to an overseas destination. The passengers were interviewed before and after the trip. The elderberry group had a reduced number of total colds, as well as a decreased sickness severity.
A meta-analysis study of elderberry clinical trials found that supplementation with elderberry substantially reduces symptoms of upper respiratory infections.
Summary:Scientific research suggests that elderberry may be beneficial in boosting immune support.
Sambucus nigra has powerful antiviral activity, especially against a wide range of influenza viruses. It works by reducing hemagglutination and thus helps to reduce virus replication.
A placebo-controlled, double-blind study showed that elderberry extract reduced the activity of a variety of different viruses during an influenza outbreak. A significant improvement of the symptoms, including fever reduction, was seen in 93.3% of the cases in the elderberry-treated group within 2 days (compared to 91.7% of the patients who showed an improvement within 6 days in the control group).
An in vitro study showed that elderberry extract has an inhibitory effect on influenza viruses.
Elderberry can be used to decrease the length of a cold or flu by about one day. It is believed that the antiviral activity in elderberries prevents viruses from multiplying and spreading.
Several other in vitro studies have shown that elderberry is effective against a variety of virus strains, including multiple H1N1, H3N2, and type B strains, an H5N1 strain, and animal strains from European swine and turkey.
Summary:Research suggests that elderberry may have antiviral properties.
3. Antibacterial Properties
In vitro research has shown that elderberry extract has antimicrobial activity against both Gram-positive bacteria of Streptococcus pyogenes and group C and G Streptococci, and the Gram-negative bacterium Branhamella catarrhalis.
An in vitro study showed that elderberry is directly active against infectious bronchitis virus, a coronavirus causing illness in chickens; treatment with S. nigra extracts reduced viral titers in Vero cells by four to six orders of magnitude.
Another test-tube study found that elderberry extract (of both the berry and flower) had antibacterial activity against both gram-positive and gram-negative strains of bacteria.
Summary:Studies show that elderberry may have antibacterial properties.
4. Anti-Inflammatory Properties
Macrophages play a key role in your immune system. They work by engulfing foreign matter (microbes, etc…) and removing them from your system. Macrophages also work to promote inflammation within the body.
In vitro studies show that elderberry extract (of both the berry and flower) works to modulate macrophage activity. The researchers noted that this could be especially helpful for those struggling with inflammatory diseases.
This initial scientific research was expanded upon in 2019 when it was discovered that elderberry extract worked to reduce the inflammation response in activated macrophage cells.
Summary:According to researchers, elderberry may work to reduce inflammation. Additional studies are needed to confirm this finding.
5. Antioxidant Properties
Antioxidants are substances that can help to protect the body from free radicals, which have been shown to contribute to a variety of diseases and health conditions.
Consuming adequate amounts of dietary antioxidants are thought to be helpful for slowing down the aging process and promoting overall health.
Multiple studies have shown that various forms of elderberry have antioxidant activity within the human body.
Elderberry gets its antioxidant activity from its high anthocyanin and flavonol content. These phytochemicals go to work within the body and combat free radicals.
Summary:Elderberry may have antioxidant properties, however, further research is required for confirmation.
No reported side effects. Unripe elderberries or improperly prepared elderberry preparations can cause adverse side effects including diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting.
It is noted that the leaf, bark, seed, and unripe elderberry fruit of Elder trees (spp) contain the cyanogenic glycoside sambunigrin. Ingestion of this phytochemcial can potentially cause vomiting or severe diarrhea.
It should be noted that this constituent is destroyed when elderberries are heated up during the elderberry syrup-making process.
Pregnancy & Lactation:
There are no known restrictions although there are insufficient data to confirm safety during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.
No confirmed drug interactions. Potential interactions with diuretics or drugs that interact with diuretics, as well as with laxatives have been speculated.
A potential beneficial interaction between elderberry preparations and decongestants and antibiotics has also been speculated based on preliminary clinical observations.
Since there are a variety of different forms for elderberry, we’ll hit on the main forms along with their best dosage.
Elderberry Syrup Dosing:
For intensive use:
•Adults: 2 teaspoons 4 times daily
•Children: 1 teaspoon 4 times daily
For daily maintenance:
•Adults: 2 teaspoons daily
•Children: 1 teaspoon daily
1 glass (8oz) 2 times daily.
1 cup (made from 10g of dried berries) several times daily.
For intensive use:
•Adults: 2 lozenges 3 times daily
•Children: 1 lozenge 4 times daily
For daily maintenance:
•Adults: 1 lozenge two times daily
•Children: 1 lozenge daily
The history of elderberry has been closely tied in with that of colds and flu, which is why it’s a popular ingredient found in many herbal formulas targeting these issues. In modern times, research on this herb has focused more specifically on its antioxidant properties.
Elderberry is a fantastic herb for immune health. It provides a great deal of antioxidant benefits and is generally safe to take.
While this herb doesn’t have as much clinical research as you’d expect for a top-selling herbal ingredient, it certainly appears to be a helpful herb for anyone who wants to keep their immune system strong and healthy.
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