08 July, 2011
What Are the Health Benefits of Elderberry?
Elderberry, medically known as Sambucus nigra, is a fruit-bearing shrub native to Europe and North America. With a long history of use in folk medicine, elderberry has been researched in the past twenty years for its medicinal benefits, especially for its antiviral, immune booster qualities, as well as for possible effects on loosing weight.
Immune System Booster
The elderberry shrub typically grows to about 10 feet tall and shows yellow and white blossoms in early summer, followed by deep blue or black berries which usually ripen around September.
According to Michael Murray, ND, author of “The Pill Book Guide to Natural Medicines” only blue and black berries have medicinal properties and have been used in folk medicine since the time of the Romans. Elderberries are rich in flavonoids which are natural compounds with antioxidant qualities that protects cells against damage or infections. Elderberry also contains vitamin A, B, significant amounts of vitamin C and amino-acids. All these nutrients can help you stay healthy and prevent diseases, by boosting your immune system.
May Fight Influenza
A standardized elderberry extract may offer a safe, natural alternative to treat influenza type A and B, suggest A. Jakay Rones and associates, based on their double-blind, placebo-controlled study published in the winter 1995 issue of “Journal of Alternative and Complimentary Medicine, New York”. The efficacy of this elderberry extract was assessed on a group of subjects during a major outbreak of influenza virus in Panama in 1993. The authors found that 90 percent of subjects who took elderberry extract were completely cured within two to three days, where the placebo group achieved the same results within six days.
Another study conducted by B.Roschek, published in the July 2009 issue of “Phytochemistry” suggests that efficacy of elderberry extract is comparable with the efficacy of conventional preparations Tamiflu and Amantadine for H1N1 viral infections.
Elderberry for Weight Loss
Elderberry may help you loose weight, according to an observational study conducted by C. Chrubasik and associates from the Institute of Forensic Medicine, University of Freiburg, Germany. The study included 80 participants who consumed daily elderberry juice enriched with elderberry flower and berry powder extracts, as well as asparagus-based extracts. The authors found that this herbal formula significantly improved not only the weight, but the blood pressure, physical and emotional state of participants as well. More research is needed to confirm these clinical findings.
Drinking elderberry tea is considered safe, however, if you consider talking elderberry extracts or syrups, consult a qualified professional first to find out your optimal dosage, possible side effects and drug interactions.
- PubMed.gov: Inhibition of several strains of influenza virus in vitro and reduction of symptoms by an elderberry extract (Sambucus nigra L.) during an outbreak of influenza B Panama.
- PubMed.gov: Elderberry flavonoids bind to and prevent H1N1 infection in vitro.
- PubMed.gov: An observational study and quantification of the actives in a supplement with Sambucus nigra and Asparagus officinalis used for weight reduction.
- "The Pill Book Guide To Natural Medicine"; Michael Murray, ND; 2002
- elderberries image by Clivia from Fotolia.com