European Black Elderberry (Sambucus nigra) a large plant that belongs in the family of Adoxaceae. It is commonly found across Europe, Central and Western Asia, and Northern Africa. Some subspecies can also be found all over the North America.
The Elderberry plant has berries and flowers used medicinally for centuries in certain cultures. The berries and flowers are full of antioxidants, rutin, quercetin, and anthocyanins (a kind of flavonoid that acts both as an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant). Even Hippocrates was quoted centuries ago pointing out that the elder tree as “his medicine chest”.
Used in European folk medicine and by indigenous tribes to strengthen the body’s immune system and as a general health tonic, black elderberry is available as a supplement at health food stores instead of raw berries.
What is great to know is that scientific studies have proven what indigenous tribes have known for centuries about the medicinal benefits of elderberries. Black Elderberry “Laciniata” is a potent antiviral medicine and works against certain strains of bacteria, among other things.
In 2011, a study published in the Bio Med Central (BMC) revealed that Black Elderberry inhibits the multiplication of both Influenza A and B viruses. As well as 3 gram-positive bacteria and 1 gram-negative bacteria which cause upper respiratory infections.
Hadassah University researchers discovered that berries extend protection at the cellular level. It is by preventing damaging inflammation and enhancing our immune system response. They also found that it’s also a safe and very effective general health tonic.
The Hadassah researchers concluded that “Sambucol (a proprietary Elderberry product) might, therefore, be beneficial to the immune system activation and in the inflammatory process in healthy individuals or in patients with various diseases. Sambucol could also have an immunoprotective or immunostimulatory effect when administered to Cancer or AIDS patients, in conjunction with chemotherapeutic or other treatments.”
The Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School researchers also concluded that the berries are very efficacious as a flu treatment. And the use of medication was significantly less important in those receiving elderberry extract compared with the placebo. Elderberry extract seems to offer an “efficient, safe and cost-effective treatment for influenza”.
According to previous studies, elderberry increases the production of non-inflammatory infection-fighting cytokines by as much as ten-fold. Moreover, extensive research shows elderberry stops the production of hormone-like cytokines. That influences a class of white blood cells known as neutrophils causing inflammation, especially when sick with influenza and arthritis.
It has also been studied that black elderberry could also kill the H1N1 virus. Its immunostimulatory effect is effective not only for influenza but may be studied further in the treatment of cancer. Also other immunosuppressive diseases like AIDS.
Researchers with Hadassah University said the berries work on a cellular level to protect cells against inflammation and bolster the immune system.
How about you – do you have other ideas or experience using elderberries for health? Share in the comments below!