(NaturalHealth365) If you are often sick with a cold or flu, eating elderberries as part of your daily routine can help you recover quickly and stay healthy. Elderberries are known for their outstanding potential to ward off flu viruses and common cold symptoms. In addition, elderberries have been consumed, in tea and juice form, in folk remedies to eliminate sinus infections and improve immune function. Current research acknowledges and validates the benefits of elderberries via a number of scientific studies.
What makes elderberries so special?
This magical fruit is particularly high in phenolic compounds, with exceptionally high levels of anthocyanins – besides being a good source of water soluble vitamin c. The presence of these two nutrients may explain why elderberries are efficient in fighting off cold and flu. There are several species of elderberries – American, Blue and European Elderberries. The European elderberries are the most studied type and used in dietary supplements.
A tasty way to fight off influenza viruses
A 1995 study found that elderberries are a low-cost and a side-effect free way to treat influenza viruses A and B. This research was published in the winter edition of the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. It was a placebo-controlled, double-blind investigation on the effects of the elderberry extracts during an influenza-B outbreak in Panama.
Doctors found that patients that consumed elderberry extracts showed a reduction of flu symptoms such as fever within two days of supplementation. By the third day about 90% of the cases were completely cured.
Another study published in the Journal of International Medical Research also fetched similar results in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled investigation. Sixty Norwegian adults with influenza-like symptoms were given 15 ml of elderberry juice or syrup – four times a day. The supplementation was continued for 5 days, patients that received elderberry syrup recovered 4 days earlier than the group that did not receive elderberries.
Elderberries know how to kill flu viruses – naturally
According to researchers, the possible mechanism of elderberries against influenza viruses is via its powerful antioxidant network. The flavonoids, flavonols, cholorogenic compounds and other antioxidants stimulate the immune system in an organized fashion.
The first point of stimulus occurs with an increased production of cytokines that serves as messengers between cells. Cytokines then locate the target immune cells and interact with the receptors to bind to them. This interaction triggers specific immune responses.
The second point of stimulus occurs with an increase in the production of monocytes (type of white blood cells). Some of these monocytes transform into macrophages which form of a part of body’s own immune system which destroy foreign cells or bacteria.
Some other monocytes become dendritic cells which assist the adaptive part of the immune system. In addition to this, elderberries also inhibit the ability of influenza virus to attach to the red blood cells. The antioxidant – anthocyanins – in elderberries also tag along to demonstrate powerful anti-inflammatory effect which brings down the aches and pain associated with fever.
Are elderberries safe for everyone?
Elderberries are safe to consume and were listed in the CRC Handbook of Medicinal Herbs (1985 edition) and are also listed in the Mosby’s Nursing Drug reference for colds, flu, yeast infections, nasal and chest congestion and hay fever (2000 edition). Be sure to choose blue and black varieties – as they are good to eat. Avoid eating unripe (green) berries as they may be mildly toxic or bright red ones – which taste bitter.
The nutritional profile of elderberry is impressive from both its nutritional and medicinal stand point. Elderberries are packed with flavonoid compounds – kaempferol, anthocyanins, quercetin, proanthocyanidins, rutin, iso-quercetin and rutoside. The flavonol group includes quercetin-3-O-rutinoside, quercetin- 3-O-glucoside.
The phenolic group includes caffeic and chlorogenic compounds. These compounds work together in a synergistic fashion to boost immune activity via their powerful antioxidant effects.
Final point – one cup of elderberries are about 100 calories with 10 grams of dietary fiber. It also provides 87% of the DV (daily value) for vitamin C, 13% of DV for iron, 17% of DV for vitamin A. Just a handful of elderberries is sure to boost your immune system – especially in these cold wintery months.
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1. Zakay-Rones Z, Varsano N, et.al; Inhibition of several strains of influenza virus in vitro and reduction of symptoms by an elderberry extract (Sambucus nigra L.) during an outbreak of influenza B Panama. J Altern Complement Med. 1995 Winter;1(4):361-9.
2. Youdim KA, Martin A, Joseph JA. Incorporation of the elderberry anthocyanins by endothelial cells increases protection against oxidative stress. Free Radical Biol Med 2000: 29:51 60
3. Kong F. Pilot clinical study on a proprietary elderberry extract: efficacy in addressing influenza symptoms. Online Journal of Pharmacology and Pharmacokinetics. 2009;5:32-43.
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