Elderberry – A Natural Immune Boost
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention site February as the month with the highest incidence of the flu, so you may not be out of the woods yet. But, Elderberry may be the secret weapon you need to get through the cold and flu season with zero sick days. Well, elderberry and the flu vaccine…Nothing replaces getting a flu shot! But if you feel like you need a boost, research has shown that elderberry can prevent the onset and shorten the duration of cold and flu-like symptoms.
Elderberry grows in many regions of the world and comes in three variations – red, blue, and black. People have been using black elderberry (Sambucus nigra) for many years as an immune booster due to its high antioxidant content. One not-so-fun fact about elderberry is that it can kill you if not eaten properly. Unripe fruit, leaves, and stems release a toxic compound when ingested, so only eat the berries cooked. Elderberry is not recommended for pregnant or lactating women for this reason.
A recent study done on Australian air travelers found that supplementation of elderberry extract reduced the duration and severity of cold symptoms. Another study was conducted in Norway on patients who had reported flu-like symptoms over the past 48 hours. Those who received 60 ml of elderberry syrup over a 5-day period had earlier relief of symptoms than those who did not receive elderberry. How does elderberry relieve symptoms and boost immunity? Compounds in the berry that give it its color prevent the flu virus from entering and replicating in human cells. More research is needed to fully understand the effects of elderberry, but it has shown to be a safe and cost-effective way to fight the flu virus. Make sure you look for elderberry products sourced solely from the Sambucus nigra species and pay attention to the dose in order to receive the most benefit.