How Has It Been Used Historically
For centuries, people have used elderberry fruit to make food products like jams, wines, pies and more. But it is perhaps best known as a traditional medicine. Elderberry fruits contain vitamin A, potassium, calcium, vitamin C and high levels antioxidants like anthocyanins, which give the fruit its color and may play a role in boosting overall health.
In 400 B.C., Hippocrates, the Greek physician whos also known as the Father of Medicine, referred to the shrub as his medicine chest. Since then, the plant has been used around the world as a traditional remedy for not only colds and flu, but also a variety conditions such as constipation, toothaches, sprains, dislocations, hemorrhoids, burns, insect bites and rashes.
How To Make Elderberry Syrup
The simple elderberry syrup recipe below contains only 3 ingredients: elderberries, raw honey and water. While any type of raw honey is fine for this recipe, manuka honey that is UMF certified 10+ is the most potent type. A single batch is enough to take your family through an entire cold and flu season.
Hint: start giving it to your children a few days before school starts! This recipe is BOTH anti-viral and anti-bacterial.
Health Benefits Of Elderberry
1. Major Cold and Flu Relief
Elderberries are an excellent general immune system booster. The berries contain chemical compounds called anthocyanidins, which are are known to have immunostimulant effects. Elderberry extract has been shown to be a safe, efficient and cost-effective treatment for both cold and flu symptoms.
A 2016 study published in Nutrients showed that elderberry supplementation can reduce the duration and symptoms of a cold in air travelers. Travelers using this herb from 10 days before travel until four to five days after arriving overseas experienced on average a two-day shorter duration of their colds and also a noticeable reduction in cold symptoms.
Several studies have demonstrated that elder extract is highly effective in mitigating flu-like symptoms. Specifically, the flavonoids in the elderberry extract bind to the H1N1 human influenza virus as well as the H5N1 avian influenza virus. A 2009 study randomized patients into two groups: One group was given four doses of 175-milligram proprietary elderberry extract daily, and the other group received a placebo daily for two days. The extract-treated group showed significant improvement in most flu symptoms while the placebo group showed no improvement or an increase in severity of symptoms. Researchers conclude that the extract is effective in controlling influenza symptoms.
2. Sinus Infection Aid
3. Lower Blood Sugar
4. Natural Diuretic
5. Natural Laxative
6. Encourage Healthy Skin
7. Ease Allergies
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Things To Consider Before Consuming Elderberry While Pregnancy Or Breastfeeding
The safety of elderberry is also dependent on the way you consume the elderberry.
The root, bark, and leaves of the elderberry plant contain sambunigrin, which releases cyanide. And this toxic chemical can induce nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. So the raw elderberry consumption can lead to these symptoms. But cooked berries do not carry this risk.
So, never consume raw elderberry regardless of whether you are breastfeeding or not.
Also, if you have an autoimmune condition like rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, or lupus, it is best to avoid elderberry as it might cause the immune system to become more active and worsen the symptoms of autoimmune disease.
Before you decide whether elderberry is safe for you to take while breastfeeding, it is also important to know that elderberry is not FDA approved, just like any other herbal supplement. Elderberry is an herbal supplement and does not require FDA pre-marketing approval before it goes on sale. The manufacturer is responsible for the safety and effectiveness of the preparation. So, often there is a difference in labeled and actual ingredients .
So, it is important to purchase an elderberry herbal supplement from a reputable source if you decide to take it during breastfeeding or beyond.
When I am not making my DIY elderberry syrup, I buy Sambucol syrup, or tablets, or gummies for my family.
Buying Guide For Best Elderberry Gummies
Although there is no cure for the common cold and many of us self-quarantine when we discover that our work neighbour in the next cubicle has the flu, there is relief. For instance, taking elderberry gummies can cut your flu downtime in half. Instead of being miserable for a week or more, you could be feeling yourself again in just a few days.
But there is a great deal to learn about elderberry gummies before deciding which product is best for you. Some are tart, while others contain added sweeteners. Some manufacturers may offer just the elderberry extract in their gummies, while others add additional ingredients that can enhance effectiveness.
Our guide has everything you need to know including the benefits, the risks, and some fun facts about elderberry gummies.
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How Might It Work
Greenfield said that elderberry extract has antiviral activity as well as anti-inflammatory activity, which lends it to potentially shortening the duration of cold and flu symptoms. Most cold and flu symptoms are not due to the virus itself but to the bodys inflammatory response to the virus, Greenfield said. Damping down the inflammation might help people with the flu feel better.<
Ready To Use Elderberry Preparation
Elderberry is available in various forms, such as syrups, powders, gummies, and teas. Before you purchase commercial elderberry preparation to use while pregnancy or breastfeeding, make sure to check the ingredient list to avoid the potential risk of side effects.
If you are not into making your own elderberry syrup or dried elderberry is not available to purchase, Sumbucol is a brand I trust for great elderberry gummies and elderberry syrup.
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Why You Need Elderberry This Cold And Flu Season
When you come down with a cold or the flu, you want relief fast. You may have heard that elderberry supplements can help you kick your cold or flu more quickly. Some research has shown that elderberry syrup and supplements containing elderberry extract support immune health and may help you recover more quickly from the common cold or flu.
In this article, well examine elderberrys health benefits and uses so you can be sure youre making the right choice when it comes to immune support.
Should I Take Elderberry Supplements To Ward Off Flu Coronavirus
A cluster of wild elderberries. People swear by elderberries for preventing cold and flu, but would they be helpful in preventing coronavirus?MDC Staff, courtesy Missouri Department of Conservation.
CLEVELAND, Ohio — Herbal remedy believers have been using elderberry for centuries, saying it boosts the immune system to fight off colds and flu.
Elderberry flowers and berries are used in natural supplements, often in gummy or syrup form, and infused into teas. Supporters claim that the antioxidants can boost immunity and there are natural anti-microbial or anti-bacterial qualities to the plant.
As the spread of novel coronavirus to the U.S. becomes inevitable and patient cases begin to climb, those worried about the illness are doing everything they can to prepare. So can elderberry help fight off COVID-19?
We dont really know. Theres still not enough significant data, even after centuries of use, to show that elderberry syrup fights flu symptoms or boosts the immune system at all, said Dr. Keith Armitage, medical director for the UH Roe Green Center for Travel Medicine and Global Health.
If sipping on elderberry tea or a dose of syrup makes you feel better, theres no reason to not take it, Armitage said, but acknowledge the plants limits.
Its definitely not an alternative to the flu shot, he said.
Should I take elderberry syrup?
What do studies say?
How should I use elderberry syrup?
Read the full post from the Cleveland Clinic here.
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Is It Safe To Take Elderberry While Breastfeeding
There are no scientific studies that have tested the safety of elderberry while breastfeeding, so it is hard to conclude whether it is safe to take while nursing. Thats why it is important to talk to your health care provider before taking elderberry while breastfeeding.
Elderberry is labeled as not safe to take while breastfeeding, mainly because its safety is not tested on breastfeeding women. In addition, most of the research studies do not include pregnant or breastfeeding mothers because of the potential risk of an experimental drug.
But that does not make the herbal supplement unsafe to take while breastfeeding. Also, most of the clinical studies of the effectiveness of elderberry in treating colds and flu did not report any adverse impacts of consuming elderberry on participants health . And elderberry preparations have rarely caused allergic reactions.
Also, there is no data on trace of any components of elderberry into breastmilk or on the safety and efficacy of elderberry in breastfeeding mothers or infants .
That being said, most medical professionals advise against the use of elderberry while breastfeeding because of a lack of evidence on the safety and efficacy of elderberry use and the risk of potential side effects.
On the contrary, most herbalists consider elderberry safe to use while breastfeeding, given that you are aware of how to consume it safely.
Elderberry Syrup Benefits In Scientific Literature
Elderberry syrup is not just good for when you are sick either. It is a highly effective preventative too as it is loaded with antioxidants, Vitamin C and immune-supporting minerals.
Scientific research is supportive of the use of elderberries for illness. In one study, elderberry extract inhibited several strains of influenza and reduced symptoms. Another study found that elderberry syrup flavonoids were effective against the H1N1 virus.
In the most compelling study, a randomized trial of 60 patients aged 18-54 suffering from flu symptoms for 48 hours or less received 15 ml of elderberry syrup or a placebo 4x per day for five days. Researchers observed that Symptoms were relieved on average 4 days earlier and the use of rescue medication was significantly less in those receiving elderberry extract compared with placebo.
Besides being effective at preventing and reducing symptoms, elderberry syrup also has highly practical applications as well. It is delicious on pancakes and waffles or drizzled on homemade ice cream as a sore throat remedy when something cold is especially welcome.
In addition, elderberry syrup can help get less appealing whole food supplements like cod liver oil down the hatch for your little ones.
I would recommend making a batch of this elderberry syrup and having on hand all year long. It is helpful anytime colds, flu and coughs are making the rounds in your household. It is a great supplement to use at the start of the school year too!
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How To Take Elderberry Syrup For Flu
Many commercial syrup manufacturers recommend 1 tablespoon of elderberry syrup taken four times daily to treat cold or flu symptoms. Elderberry lozenges can be taken twice daily. Keep in mind that elderberry should never be used as a substitute for standard care.
How Much Elderberry Should I Take For Flu? For flu, some studies have used 1 tablespoon of an elderberry syrup extract four times a day. Another common form of elderberry is a lozenge, often with zinc, that is taken numerous times daily after a cold begins. Ask your health care provider for advice.
How Do I Take Elderberry Syrup When Sick? Here is a recipe for basic elderberry syrup, which can last in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 months if stored in a glass bottle: take ½ to 1 tablespoon daily for adults to prevent illness or if the flu does strike, take ½ to 1 tablespoon every 2 to 3 hours, instead of once a day, until symptoms disappear.
Does Elderberry Really Help With The Flu? While elderberry has become a rock star in the cold and flu-fighting universe, new evidence suggests that that elderberry was not effective in reducing the severity or duration of flu symptoms.
How To Make An Elderberry Tincture For Colds And Flu
Elderberry, specifically the subspecies Sambucus nigra and Sambucus canadensis, has been used for centuries to fight colds, flu, and viral infections. In recent decades, a new interest in the plant has led to several large studies to determine its efficacy. Impressively, it turns out that elderberry stimulates the body’s immune system, is a potent antioxidant and really can shorten and decrease symptoms of colds and flu.
You can make syrup, jelly, and other goodies with the elderberry, but our project focuses on making elderberry tincture, an alcohol-based extract of elderberry that has medicinal properties.
You’ll need these supplies to make elderberry tincture:
- Clean canning jars. Wide-mouth jars work best because it’s easier to get the berries into them, but you can use whatever jar you have. They don’t even have to be proper mason/canning jars anything with a tight-fitting lid will work. Use glass, not metal.
- A source of elderberries. Fresh, local berries are best, but you can also order dried berries in bulk. If your berries are frozen, let them thaw and then continue with the instructions.
- A fork for removing the elderberries from the stems.
- A bowl and a colander to store and wash the elderberries.
- 100-proof vodka. 100-proof vodka is typically used in tincture-making because it is 50 percent water and 50 percent alcohol, comprising a standard solution. You can use regular vodka or even brandy in a pinch, though.
Wash the Berries
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Can Elderberry Treat The Flu
Some limited evidence suggests it might help reduce symptoms and duration, but it should never replace the flu vaccine or medical advice from your doctor.
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This story was originally published on March 3, 2020 on NYT Parenting.
Its touted as a miracle remedy for a variety of pesky winter bugs: colds, flu and yes, even recently, the coronavirus. Elderberry has garnered a cult following on social media in recent years, and has the sales numbers to show for it. According to a report published by the American Botanical Council in 2019, sales of elderberry supplements, which are made from the fruit of a flowering shrub, more than doubled in the United States between 2017 and 2018 to a total of nearly $51 million.
In my own community, many of my friends dose their kids with elderberry in pretty much every iteration, said Ashley Adams English, author of Home Apothecary with Ashley English, meaning they give their children elderberry in the form of homemade syrups, gummies and more.
Elderberry supplementation has long been used as a folk remedy for flu, but what does the science say? And is it safe? Heres what to know.
Do Elderberries Offer Any Health Benefits
While many turn to elderberry supplements and syrups to help ease cold and flu symptoms, some believe that this berry can boost health by:
- Lowering the risk of cancer.
- Loweing the risk of heart disease.
- Reducing the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
- Easing inflammation.
While many believe that elderberries are a good solution for boosting immunity, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health says, Theres not enough information to show whether elderberry is helpful for any other health purposes.
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Side Effect On Cytokines
If elderberry juice does work for colds and other viruses, why does it work? Yes, the ORAC value of elderberries, which is a laboratory measurement of its antioxidant content, is about 300% that of blueberries. But how much antioxidant activity it may have has nothing to do with antiviral activity.
Some speculate it may be the effect elderberries have on cytokines.
What are cytokines? In Greek, cyto means cell and kinos means movement cell movement. Thats exactly what they do.
Cytokines are types of proteins which are released by cells of our immune system. Think of these cytokines as a chemical messenger. They go and tell other immune system cells to move and do things like fight an infection.
In a nutshell, some theorize that having higher amounts of cytokines might boost immunity function.
This study is not specific to any type of viral infection. It looked at the effect of black elderberry on the immune system of healthy people .
12 participants who were young and healthy students were given a non-proprietary standard black elderberry extract as well as branded Sambucol products.
Effect on production of TNF-alpha cytokines. LPS = known activators, E.Ex = elderberry extract, B.E. = Sambucol original syrup, Kids = Sambucol for Kids, A.D. = Sambucol Active Defense/Immune System Formula
Best Elderberry Syrup Brand
Even though Sambucol appears to be the most studied, we feel there are not enough studies out there in order to decide what the best brand is . Plus since this ingredient is not yet proven to work for anything, a good or bad brand is largely a subjective opinion.
Not all of Natures Way Sambucus products are organic. We were not able to find their organic regular or kids syrup at any of the local stores we checked.
That being said, some people prefer organic elderberry supplements. There are a few which are USDA certified organic such as:
If you want the most studied brand though, where can you buy Sambucol? From our experiences, finding these products might involve traveling to multiple pharmacies/grocery stores. Whats for sale at Walmart may be different than Walgreens and Rite Aid pharmacy. Worse yet, some locations may have it while others do not.
Some Whole Foods sell Gaia but aside from that, it can be difficult to find a diverse selection of brands and sizes.
In the product photos featured at the start of this review, we actually had to visit 2 different stores in the Los Angeles area because one sold Sambucol while the other sold Natures Way Sambucus. Neither sold both brands!
Examples of Sambucol brand products for sale:
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