Eldeberry, The Wonderful Immune-Booster
Very well known for its benefits against colds and flu, elderberries are rich sources of antioxidants, and have been used for centuries.
Elderberry is one of the most commonly and oldest used medicinal plants in the history.
From the ancient Egyptians to Native Americans used it to cure for the various symptoms and diseases.
There are about 30 types of elder plants and trees, however the European version (as known as Sambucus or Sambucus nigra) is the most used one. It flowers in late spring and bears small clusters of dark purple-black berries.
Historically, the flowers and leaves have been used for pain relief, swelling, inflammation, to stimulate the production of urine and to induce sweating. The bark was used as a diuretic, laxative and to induce vomiting.
In folk medicine, the dried berries or juice are used to treat influenza, infections, sciatica, headaches, dental pain, heart pain and nerve pain, as well as a laxative and diuretic.
The berries and flowers of elderberry are rich in antioxidants and vitamins that may boost immune system. It is also known to help relieve inflammation, protect heart, and lesson the stress.
The nutrients in elderberries
Vitamin C: There are 6–35 mg of Vitamin C per 100 grams of fruit.
Phenolic acids: These compounds are powerful antioxidants that can help reduce damage from oxidative stress in the body.
Flavonols: Elderberry contains the antioxidant flavonols quercetin, kaempferol and isorhamnetin. The flowers contain up to 10 times more flavonols than the berries.
Rich in anthocyanins: These well-known compounds give the fruit its characteristic dark black-purple color. Think blueberries, which is also known for its high contents of anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are strong antioxidants with anti-inflammatory effects. And elderberry is one of the richest sources of anthocyanins comparable to other berries.
The benefits of elderberries
It is believed and widely used in Europe and North American as the natural remedy for the infectious diseases like cold and flu.
In several studies, black elderberry extracts and flower infusions have been shown to reduce the severity and length of influenza.
One study of 60 people with influenza found that those who took 15 ml of elderberry syrup four times per day showed symptom improvement in two to four days, while the control group took seven to eight days to improve.
Another study of 64 people found that taking 175-mg elderberry extract lozenges for two days resulted in significant improvement in flu symptoms, including fever, headache, muscle aches and nasal congestion, after just 24 hours.
Furthermore, a study of 312 air travelers taking capsules containing 300 mg of elderberry extract three times per day found that those who got sick experienced a shorter duration of illness and less severe symptoms.
Health Risks and Side Effects
The raw berries, bark and leaves of the plant are known to be poisonous and cause stomach problems. In addition, the elderberry plant contains substances called cyanogenic glycosides, which can release cyanide in some circumstances. This is a toxin also found in apricot seeds and almonds.
However, commercial preparations and cooked berries do not contain cyanide, so there are no reports of fatalities from eating these.
Because of this, it is recommended to take elderberry with commercially prepared forms like capsules or syrups.