Coughs, colds and flus can happen at any time of the year and keeping yourself protected should always be top of mind. Luckily, nature has a lot to offer when it comes to supporting your immune system and keeping you healthy. The most well-known berry for this is elderberry. This antioxidant rich fruit has been shown to be a small and mighty berry with huge benefits. Let’s take a deeper dive into it.
What are elderberries?
The elderberry has a large history under its belt. Sambucus as it is known by its Latin name, originated in Europe, Asia and North America and is the tree the elderberry comes from. The European elder is the most common and known type of elderberry tree. Once named the “Medicine Chest” by Hippocrates, the medicinal properties of this plant were already known since then. In fact, a lot of mysticism and folklore also surround the history of this plant. In Danish legend for example, it has been thought that the elder tree is home to the Elder-Tree mother. Her permission is said to be needed before any fruit or parts of it are used. In Russia, it is said that the tree possesses the ability to ward off evil. Whatever it may be, it seems that these myths stem from the numerous health benefits that this tree holds.
What are the health benefits of elderberries?
Every part of the elderberry tree has been used and shown to have beneficial properties. From the leaves to the fruit, and even the bark, each part has been used for a purpose over the centuries. It has been thought that elderberries have anti-inflammatory properties amongst other health benefits. The European elder contains a high concentration of antioxidants called flavonols and anthocyanins that are beneficial to the body’s general health. Anthocyanins are what give the elderberries their deep purple color and help fight free radicals in the body. What makes the elderberry such a powerful little fruit is that it contains more antioxidants than any other berry of its kind. Because of this, elderberries are very beneficial in supporting the body’s immune system*.
Elderberries and immune support
More recently, several studies have been conducted and have shown that elderberries help support the body’s immune response. The anthocyanin content has been shown to boost immune functions and exhibit anti-viral effects. 1. Furthermore, when mixed with other ingredients like lemon juice, sage, and honey, elder has been found to help in relieving symptoms associated with coughs, head colds and flu-like symptoms. 2. It should come as no surprise then that the phenomenon of the elder trees has been used for centuries.
There is no doubt about it, elderberries are a powerhouse of antioxidants and health benefits. In a recent study, it has been shown that supplementation with a standardized elderberry extract is significantly effective at reducing the total duration and severity of upper respiratory symptoms, as compared to a placebo group.1. With their immune supporting* properties, and numerous health benefits, they have become a part of a person’s daily routine all year long and a convenient and delicious way to keep your health in check.
By Jennifer Soueida, B.Sc
1. Hawkins J, Colby B, Cherry L, Dunne E., Black elderberry (Sambucus nigra) supplementation effectively treats upper T respiratory symptoms: A meta-analysis of randomized, controlled clinical trials Complementary Therapies in Medicine 42 (2019) 361–365
2. Dietary Suppl Downloaded from informahealthcare.com by University of North Carolina on 04/16/14
* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Related products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.