Before modern medicine was invented, our ancestors were herbalists. Ancient Egyptians, Chinese, Greek, Romans, and Native Americans all used plant materials at different points in history for medicinal purposes. In fact, archeological evidence shows that the earliest uses of herbal medicine, or “phytomedicine,” as some people call it, date back to the Paleolithic age, some 60,000 years ago.

One of the most popular medicinal plants at the forefront of ancient and modern herbalism is the elderberry. More than 2,000 years ago, Hippocrates, known as the “Father of Medicine,” called the elder tree his “medicinal chest.” Today, the elderberry is still used as a natural remedy for several types of ailments, including the common cold and the flu.  If you’re interested in boosting your immune system, we suggest taking a supplement with elderberry daily.

What is Elderberry?

Elderberries are small round fruits produced by the Sambucus or elder tree. Native to Europe, the elder tree produces small clusters of yellow or cream-colored flowers and blue or dark purple berries.

While sometimes you may hear the name ‘elderberry’ used interchangeably with other types of berries, such as the American elder, elderflower, and dwarf elder, they are not the same fruit.

Elderberries have been considered one of the most healing medicinal plants in the world. Historically, Native American and European civilizations used these tart fruits to heal wounds, treat infections, and lower fevers. Nowadays, elderberries are used as a popular supplement to fight off common viruses like the common cold and the flu.

Elderberry Health Benefits

Elderberry extract is one of the best-known natural remedies against infections across the globe.  No bigger than a blueberry, elderberries are tiny but chocked-full of nutrients and antioxidants. 100 grams of elderberries provide about 60 percent of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C. Black elderberry extract also contains important compounds like flavonoids, which are powerful antioxidants with immune-boosting and anti-inflammatory properties.

Is Elderberry Good For The Immune System?

Evidence shows that supplementing with black elderberry extract can significantly reduce upper respiratory symptoms, like those produced by the cold and flu viruses. For example, in one study of 312 participants, investigators looked at whether taking an elderberry supplement could prevent people from developing a cold or experiencing cold-like symptoms after traveling overseas.

The results showed that even though the supplement did not reduce cold incidence, participants who took the elderberry extract had milder symptoms that lasted for a shorter time.

How Does Elderberry Help Your Immune System?

Though more research is still needed, preliminary research has also shown other health benefits of elderberry extract:

  • May ‘boost’ the immune system
  • May improve heart health
  • May reduce bad cholesterol
  • Could help with constipation
  • Can help tame inflammation
  • May reduce stress

Elderberry extract has been researched in the lab for centuries, and scientists have identified multiple properties that are to credit for the herb’s immune-supporting effects. It has explicit antiviral activities, even inhibiting the replications of certain viral strains.

It also has a potent antioxidant profile, which explains its ability to eliminate free radicals that could damage immune cells. Additionally, elderberries have properties that prevent the replication of certain types of bacteria in the body.

Elderberry and COVID-19

Elderberry extract may help to fight Covid-19 and other coronaviruses by supporting a healthy immune system.  Elderberry contains compounds that decrease the ability of viruses to infect cells.

It has been suggested that because elderberry fortifies the immune system it might contribute to the creation of cytokines and the cytokine storm that occurs in seriously ill COVID-19 patients. Not only has this never been shown to be true in any human studies but in fact, it is quite possible that the opposite is true! A key contributor to the occurrence of the cytokines storm is the large buildup of reactive oxygen species and subsequent tissue damage that the coronavirus causes. Significant research shows that the various phytochemicals found in black elderberry have significant antioxidant activity and may help control the creation of reactive oxygen species that contribute to the cytokine storm.

Elderberry Uses

Elderberries are small round fruits produced by the Sambucus or elder tree. Native to Europe, the elder tree produces small clusters of yellow or cream-colored flowers and blue or dark purple berries.

While sometimes you may hear the name ‘elderberry’ used interchangeably with other types of berries, such as the American elder, elderflower, and dwarf elder, they are not the same fruit.

Elderberries have been considered one of the most healing medicinal plants in the world. Historically, Native American and European civilizations used these tart fruits to heal wounds, treat infections, and lower fevers. Nowadays, elderberries are used as a popular supplement to fight off common viruses like the common cold and the flu.

If you are considering taking elderberry, immune support may be your top priority. The best elderberry supplements are the ones that have been independently tested to ensure they are free of pesticides, pathogens, and other harmful substances. You can buy black elderberry supplements on Amazon, health food stores, or your local pharmacy. There are also many elderberry syrup recipes online that use dry elderberry. For kids and adults that don’t like swallowing pills, those may be the best options.

Elderberry supplements come in many convenient forms, including:

  • Extracts
  • Syrups
  • Gummies
  • Teas
  • Pills
  • Lozenges
  • Tinctures

What is the difference between elderberry syrup and elderberry extract?

An extract is created by using a solvent to attract and pull out the health-promoting phytochemicals in an herb or berry. There is a difference in how each is made and in the total elderberry content available as well. The most valuable phytochemicals in elderberry are the antioxidant-rich anthocyanins. A high-quality elderberry extract should be standardized to 10% anthocyanins.

By comparison, elderberry syrups contain more ingredients than an elderberry extract and have less elderberry available per serving. As the name implies, a syrup contains either natural or artificial sweeteners or thickeners to give it a sweeter, syrupy texture.

Risks and Side Effects

Uncooked elderberries are quite tart and may taste unpleasant for some people. Furthermore, raw, unripe elderberries contain chemical compounds called lectins that may cause diarrhea and upset stomach.

Talk to your doctor before taking elderberry if you have an autoimmune disease such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis.

 

Ready to Boost Your Immune System?