Flu protection, heart health, less harmful bacteria and a natural anti-depressant – the health claims come flying for elderberry from proponents of this popular medicinal plant.
So what’s the story? Does elderberry live up to the hype and can it really help your immune function?
The short answer to that: probably – but studies continue. Elderberry has been used for thousands of years by the indigenous peoples of North America used it to treat fever and rheumatism. The ancient Egyptians used elderberry for better complexion and to heal burns.
And today, it’s commonly used to reduce symptoms of flu and the cold. Hence, the popularity of our very own immune-boosting elderberry product, called Elderberry Plus.
Also look at our, “Best Supplements For Your Health in 2021.”
What is Elderberry?
Elderberry is a plant and is actually several members of the Sambucus tree. While it grows in the northern and southern hemispheres, the most common elderberry is Sambucus Nigra – a tree native to Europe.
As the name implies, it’s the berries of the elderberry family that have received the most attention. Since ancient times, they’ve been used to fight influenza, treat infections, along with headaches, dental pain and general hurt throughout the body. It’s also been used as a laxative and diuretic.
Still, it’s likely elderberry’s reputation as a natural option to fight common viral infections, like the cold and the flu that you’re most likely heard about. Let’s look closer at the nutrient content of elderberry and what it brings to the immune system.
Elderberry: Nutritional Breakdown
There’s a very good reason elderberry appears to help the immune system and fight off the flu and other nasties. It’s not a bad idea if you’re looking to lose weight either. One cup of fresh elderberries packs 26.7 grams of carbs and less that a gram of fats and protein respectively – all at a stingy 106 calories.
Look closer at the nutrients in elderberry and you’ll find:
Vitamin C – No wonder elderberry fights the cold. There are 52mg of vitamin C per cup of elderberries, which alone gives you 57% of your daily recommended intake of it
Fiber – Elderberry is packed with digestion-friendly fiber too, with 10 grams of fiber per cup. If you’re looking to put more fiber in your diet, that’s 37% of your daily target right there.
Phenolic Acids – These are antioxidants that fight age-accelerating free radicals. Elderberry in particular is shown to reduce oxidative stress. That in turn may have a variety of exciting health implications.
Flavonols – Elderberry is a good source of flavonols. These are antioxidants, including quercetin, kaempferol and isorhamnetin. The flowers have much higher flavonols than the actual berries.
Anthocyanins – Anthocyanins are the compounds that give elderberries their dark blue/purple hue. They’re antioxidants that have strong antioxidant properties.
Keep in mind that the nutritional breakdown of elderberry will vary according to the plant variety, berry ripeness and climate/environment in which the plants are grown. That’s one of several reasons we recommend Elderberry Plus. It’s a standardized elderberry supplement in chewable form that gives you the benefits of elderberry with higher consistency.
Elderberry and Immune Function
Given its high nutrient content, elderberry appears to have a beneficial effect on the immune system, to say the least. More specifically, it may help do the following:
#1 – Fight the Cold and the Flu
Some evidence suggests elderberry may be an effective natural treatment for the flu. It may help reduce both the length and severity of the ailment. For example, a study of 60 people done in 2004 who took 15mL of elderberry syrup for times a day improved their symptoms within two to four days.
Folks in the control group didn’t see an improvement until seven to eight days later.
On a related note, you may also find elderberry helps you recover faster if you’re prone to air sickness or getting sick while you travel. A study of 312 air travelers who took 300mg of elderberry three times a day found that those who got sick recovered faster and their symptoms were less severe.
The takeaway message: elderberry appears to reduce the length and severity of some viral infections, which include the cold and the flu. Studies continue.
#2 – Boost Your Antioxidant Levels
Elderberry is packed with antioxidants. We know this, and here’s why that’s important. Antioxidants counter reactive molecules, called free radicals, that are released during normal metabolism.
Free radicals can build up and accumulate within the body. They can lead to oxidative stress, which can develop into various diseases – some of the worst offenders, at that.
Antioxidants help counteract that oxidative stress. They’re nutrients in the form of certain vitamins, flavonoids and phenolic acids that help to remove free radicals and may play a role in reducing the chance these chronic diseases will develop in the first place.
Elderberries in particular are a great source of antioxidants. One of the anthocyanins found in elderberries have three and a half times more antioxidant power than vitamin E. And another study that compared 15 different varieties of berries found elderberries were one of the most effective antioxidants.
Research continues into elderberries and their antioxidants, and their potential benefit on health and wellness.
#3 – Help Your Heart
Elderberries appear to be good for the heart. Studies suggest elderberry juice may reduce fat levels in blood and lower cholesterol – we know a diet high in anthocyanin can lower risk of heart problems, and elderberry has high anthocyanin content.
Elderberries may also lower uric acid in the blood. That’s important, as high uric acid levels are linked to high blood pressure and a negative effect on the heart.
In addition, elderberry is linked to higher insulin secretion and may help the body manage blood sugar levels more effectively. That has a variety of positive health implications for the heart and risk of vascular disease.
What Else Can Elderberries Do?
We’re just getting started with elderberries and their potential for better immune health. Among other applications, elderberries might:
Fight Harmful Bacteria – Some evidence suggests elderberries may reduce a harmful form of bacteria, called Helicobacter Pylori. That in turn may improve symptoms of sinusitis and bronchitis.
Protect Against UV Radiation – Sun damage is arguably the single-leading cause of aging skin, which, among other things, can make you look older. Again, elderberries make their presence known. A skin product with elderberry has been shown to have an SPF rating of 9.88.
Boost Immune Function – This is the obvious benefit of elderberry. Studies on rats show polyphenols in elderberries increased immune response by making more white blood cells.
May Help You Pee More – Sound trivial? It’s not – studies on rats show elderberry flowers increased how often they urinated and reduced the salt in their urine. If you’ve ever had a kidney stone, you’ll appreciate that.
May Fight Depression – A study done on mice found 544mg of elderberries per pound (or 1,200mg per kilogram) improved performance and mood markers in the creatures. Meaning? Elderberries may help you reduce depression.
Remember that research is ongoing with elderberry. Many of the studies mentioned in this article have been done in laboratories. More research is needed on elderberry and how it interacts with and supports the human body.
Still, there is good evidence to suggest that elderberry can help support better immune function. It’s simply packed with antioxidants, and respectable evidence suggests that, yes, it can reduce the length and severity of flu symptoms.
And it may help with health of the heart – and those anti-inflammatory effects go a long way too.
Why We Like Elderberry Plus
We mentioned earlier than the nutrients of elderberry contribute to their efficacy – and those nutrients can vary by plant, berry ripeness and the climate and environment in which they’re grown.
With that in mind, if you want the immune support and health benefits of elderberry, we’d go with an elderberry supplement. And for that, we’d opt for Elderberry Plus.
There are a variety of reasons we like this product. Among them:
- It’s a Standardized 10:1 Elderberry Extract
- It’s Fortified With Echinacea and Vitamin C
- It’s a Chewable Supplement
- It’s Made in the United States
- It’s Got a 67 Day Money-Back Guarantee
- It Works!
We like the fact that it’s a high quality elderberry supplement that’s a standardized 10:1 extract. That means you know you’re getting the same high quality elderberry every time you take it, along with the antioxidants, nutrients and ultimately, better immune support linked to elderberry and the good possibility of even more promising studies in the future.
Will it prevent the cold or the flu? That’s hard to say – but going by current evidence, it may reduce its length and severity.
Learn More Below:
Frequently Asked Questions About Elderberry
Still have questions about elderberry?
What is Elderberry?
Elderberry is the name of a medicinal plant species primarily used in Europe and North America that belong to the Sambucus family. While various parts of the plant have been used since ancient times, it’s the berries of elderberry plants that have had the most scientific attention in recent years.
What Are the Benefits of Elderberry?
Studies suggest elderberries may have a variety of health applications. They’re rich in antioxidants, for one, which may help lower oxidative stress throughout the body. Elderberries also appear to lower inflammation, and, notably, are of interest for their potential ability to reduce the length and severity of the flu and the common cold.
Evidence suggests elderberry may be beneficial in that situation.
Will Elderberries Stop Me From Getting Sick?
Elderberry may help strengthen the immune system and reduce the severity of some viral infections. But you’ll still need to use common sense. Wash your hands thoroughly, with warm water, and do this often. As a general guideline, you should wash your hands for about as long as it takes you to sing ‘Happy Birthday’.
Also, try not to touch your face. And do social distancing when possible – yes, that’s the ‘keep six feet apart from others’ practice that we’ve done repeatedly during Covid 19 over the past 14 months.
That’s how bugs spread.
The benefit of an elderberry supplement like Elderberry Plus is that it helps strengthen immune response. Ideally, it may help you fight off some of the many viral bugs looking to get in you – and shorten the length and severity of them if they do.
Can’t I Just Get the Benefits of Elderberries By Eating Them?
You’d have to eat a whole lot of the berries of the elderberry plant to realize their benefits. Despite their high antioxidant content, the body does not appear to absorb their antioxidants well through diet.
You may find you’re better off with an elderberry supplement with a standardized elderberry extract for nutrient consistency, and one bolstered with additional nutrients for best absorption.
We like Elderberry Plus – a 10:1 elderberry extract that’s fortified with echinacea, mullein, marshmellow root and vitamin C for maximum absorption – and ultimately, for ideal immune support.
Are Elderberry Supplements Safe?
Without knowing your medical history, it’s impossible to say an elderberry supplement is completely safe. You’ll want to speak with your doctor before using one for the first time – or even eating elderberries for that matter.
That’s all the more important if you have a specific health concern or condition, or if you’re currently taking some form of medication.
With that clarified, elderberries are a natural food, and our pick for the best elderberry supplement, Elderberry Plus, is made at a CGMP-compliant facility in the United States. That means it’s made with strict health and safety regulations in place, and you can even track when and where it was made.
Bottom line? Speak with your doctor if you have concerns about elderberries or elderberry supplements. But barring something in your medical background that might cause a problem, it’s a good bet that you’ll probably be fine.
And don’t forget to read our post on, “Boosting your Immune System to Prevent Flu & Virus Infection.”