European black elderberry on a wooden background. (Sambucus nigra)_edited.jpg

Health Benefits of Elderberries

 

Elderberries have been used as a natural medicine for centuries. These berries (and even the flowers) have been shown to have high amounts of flavinols, anthocyanins, phenolic acids, zinc, and vitamins.

The antiviral properties of elderberries are perhaps their most important quality. Elderberry has proven effective in neutralizing and reducing the infectivity of influenza A and B, HIV, and Herpes simplex viruses[1]. When the human body is exposed to a virus, it responds by producing cytokines (signaling molecules that let the body know an invader is present and activate the immune system), to fight off the invader. Elderberries elevate the immune response by increasing the production of cytokines. There are no specific studies on the other 200 viral forms of the common cold, but the concept is the same. Elderberries reduce the length of the common cold by increasing the body’s immune response.

Researchers from the University of Sydney have learned some surprising details about how elderberries function when the body has a viral infection. They fight the virus in multiple ways, the main three are the stimulation of pro- inflammatory cytokines, inhibit the virus from entering cells, and stopping the replication of the virus if it is already inside the cell[2]. This multifaceted attack is what makes it so effective at treating the common cold and upper respiratory infections. Researchers were also able to empirically prove that if elderberry is taken prior to infection, there is a “mild inhibitory effect at the early stages of influenza”, but the impact is much greater if it is taken after infection[3].

 

Elderberries contain flavinols which are gaining the attention of researchers as they demonstrate antioxidant properties. They neutralize reactive oxygen species (also known as free radicals) that, when present in excess, can cause damage to the human body in many ways. Reactive oxygen molecules are naturally created in our bodies and serve vital roles. However, they are also brought into our bodies in harmful ways, such as UV rays, environmental pollution, and heavy metals. When these reactive oxygen molecules are found in excess, they can negatively influence nearly every aspect of the body. They can speed up degenerative diseases (like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, ALS, and memory loss), cause cancer, allow the formation of plaque in arteries and veins (atherosclerosis which leads to cardiovascular disease), cause asthma and COPD, create kidney diseases, and contribute to rheumatoid arthritis[4].  The body does its best to maintain balance, but a little help is sometimes needed. Elderberries provide a natural way to assist your body in neutralizing excess free radicals.

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All information presented on this website is not intended to be medical, nutritional, or health advise. It is simply the author's understanding of the potential benefits of elderberry based on the articles cited. Please take time to read the articles listed and make the best decision for your own health.

 

[1] Schmitzer, Valentina & Veberic, Robert & Stampar, Franci. (2012). European elderberry (Sambucus Nigra L.) and American Elderberry (Sambucus Canadensis L.): Botanical, chemical and health properties of flowers, berries and their products. 

[2] Golnoosh Torabian, Peter Valtchev, Qayyum Adil, & Fariba Dehghani, (2019). Anti-influenza activity of elderberry (Sambucus nigra), Journal of Functional Foods, Volume 54, 2019, Pages 353-360, ISSN 1756-4646,

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jff.2019.01.031.

[3] Golnoosh, et al

[4] Pizzino, Gabriele et al. “Oxidative Stress: Harms and Benefits for Human Health.” Oxidative medicine and cellular longevity vol. 2017 (2017): 8416763. doi:10.1155/2017/8416763