Elderberry has a long history of medicinal use. There’s evidence that elderberry may have been cultivated by prehistoric man. There are also recipes for elderberry-based medications dating back to Ancient Egypt. Hippocrates referred to elderberry as his “medicine chest” because of the wide array of health concerns it seemed to cure.
It's known for its ability to improve cold and flu symptoms, reduce inflammation, fight chronic fatigue, allergies and more, the benefits of elderberry are impressive.
Here’s a comprehensive breakdown of potential indications for elderberry:
Cold and flu
Inflammation (the basis of most disease states)
May prevent cancer
1. Cold and Flu Relief
Elderberries are an excellent general immune system booster. The berries contain chemical compounds called anthocyanidins, which are known to have immunostimulant effects. They are also rich in vitamin C, which is nature’s own antiviral.
A study found that if elderberry is used within 48 of contracting the flu, it can reduce the duration of symptoms by an average of four days. There are also numerous studies show that elderberry extract is highly effective in fighting off the flu virus, specifically H1N1 human influenza as well as H5N1 avian influenza virus (bird flu). It also shows great promise against the treatment of Coronavirus (2019-nCov).
How does it work? Elderberry contains high levels of a flavonoid called cyaniding-3-sambubioside, which acts like a neuraminidase inhibitor. Have I lost you? This is important as neuraminidase inhibitors are capable of inhibiting the production of the viral neuraminidase enzymes, thereby preventing Coronavirus (2019-nCov) from replicating. This is the exact same mechanism that many antiviral drugs are based on including Oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and Zanamivir, which have been extensively used in the treatment of influenza and the Swine flu.
2. Sinus Infection Aid
Elderberries anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties make it a great remedy for the treatment of sinusitis. When there is a sinus infection the cavities around the nasal passages become inflamed and elderberry has shown great promise relieving this inflammation and allowing patients to breath easier (and get a better night’s sleep!). A study conducted by the Institute of Complementary Medicine’s Department of Internal Medicine at the University Hospital in Zurich, Switzerland examined the use of a proprietary product, Sinupret, which contains elderberry flowers. The researchers used Sinupret to treat bacterial sinusitis along with an antibiotic (doxycycline or Vibramycin) and a decongestant. People who took the combination did better compared to those who did not take Sinupret at all.
3. Lowers Blood Sugar
Both the elderflower and the berry have traditionally been used to treat diabetes. Research has confirmed that extracts of elderflower stimulate glucose metabolism and the secretion of insulin, lowering blood sugar levels. Research published in the Journal of Nutrition evaluated black elderberry’s insulin-like and insulin-releasing actions in vitro. The study found that an aqueous extract of elder significantly increased glucose transport, glucose oxidation and glycogenesis without any added insulin. What is glycogenesis, and why is it important? Glycogenesis is the process by which excess sugar is cleared out of the bloodstream and into your muscles and liver, which helps maintain normal blood sugar.
4. Natural Diuretic
Elder has been shown to promote both urination and bowel moments. Studies have indicated that elderberry or Sambucus has natural diuretic effects. A diuretic is a substance that promotes the production of urine. Doctors prescribe diuretics when the body is retaining too much fluid, which is a common problem in older adults and those with chronic kidney disease. These patients are at a much higher risk of developing complications from the coronavirus, so elderberry would be a very wise addition to their supplementation regime.
5. Encourage Healthy Skin
Elderberry has made its way into cosmetic products, and for good reason. Its bioflavonoids and antioxidants, along with its high vitamin A content, make it awesome for skin health. Researchers suspect that a compound found in the elderberry could give a natural boost to skin. A compound found in elderberry, called anthocyanin, has proven to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Researchers found that this compound may improve the skin’s structure and condition.
6. Relieves Allergies
Both the flower and berries of Sambucus nigra (Elderberry) are used medicinally. In the case of allergies, the flowers are most effective. Elderberry has shown to dampen an overactive immune response and reduce inflammation, providing powerful relief from hayfever, nasal congestion of skin eruptions. It can also enhance detoxification mechanisms within the liver, which is beneficial in relieving the symptoms of allergy.
7. May Help Prevent Cancer
Elderberry extract is rich in anthocyanins, flavonoids and polyphenolics, which are powerful antioxidants shown to have a broad spectrum of therapeutic, pharmacologic and anti-carcinogenic properties.
A study was recently published comparing the effectiveness of Sambucas nigra with the American elderberry, otherwise known as Sambucas Canadensis in the treatment of cancer. It found that both extracts exhibited significant chemopreventative potential. Additionally, the American elder extract showed inhibition of ornithine decarboxylase, an enzyme marker related to the promotion stage of cancer formation. It’s only early days but these findings show some promise in the use of this extract as a future adjuvant in the treatment of cancer.
8. May Improve Heart Health
Although the studies in this field have found mixed results, there is research suggesting that elderberry extract may improve cardiovascular health. When mice with high cholesterol and HDL cholesterol dysfunction were given anthocyanin-rich black elderberry extract, they had a reduction in hepatic cholesterol levels and improvement in HDL function
And another study found that elderberry extract may have beneficial effects on high blood pressure. When polyphenols extracted from the elderberry plant were given to rats with hypertension, in combination with renin inhibitors, a reduction in arterial pressure was observed. Researchers suggest that using polyphenols, like those found in elderberry, to lower blood pressure may also help to reduce the side effects of antihypertensive agents and improve patient quality of life.
Elderberry is an amazing remedy with such a wide number of applications. It is one of my favourite herbs. If you would like to try it then elderberry is available at most health food stores in a number of different forms, or feel free to drop me a message via my contact page.