An elderberry is a berry like fruit from the elder plant which is part of the honeysuckle family and can be a tree or a shrub. Traditionally this berry was used in making wine or jellies. Hippocrates who was considered the Father of Medicine referred to the elder tree as his “medicine chest”.
The elderberry is often called a healing plant.
Many people today are looking for natural ways to boost their health and help prevent diseases. Elderberry with its long folk medicine history is returning to the forefront as a beneficial health supplement for today.
The health of the elderberry comes from the fruit or the flowers. The branches, seeds, leaves and roots contain glycoside which is a type of cyanide and is toxic. Do not eat the berries raw. They must be cooked. Raw berries can cause stomach upset and contain a toxin.
Black elderberries (purple in color) have been used to treat colds, flu, respiratory illnesses, burns and wrinkles in Africa and Europe for a long time.
Elderberry Health Benefits:
Rich in dietary fiber.
Good source for: potassium, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Calcium, Vitamin B6 and Iron.
Contains antioxidants that may boost your immune system. Antioxidants protect your body’s cells from damage by free radicals. Free radicals damage cells that can eventually lead to cancer. Black elderberries contain 10 X the antioxidants as other berries.
Prevent and lessen cold and flu symptoms. It can ease sore throats and help reduce headaches and fever.
Lower cholesterol because the berries contain sterols. Sterols help stop your body from absorbing cholesterol.
Control inflammation. Your body uses inflammation to fight infections from bacteria and viruses. Sometimes your body can get it wrong and will start an inflammation response when there isn’t anything to fight. Conditions like arthritis or autoimmune diseases like type 1 Diabetes, multiple sclerosis are examples of inflammation gone wrong. Your immune system has started fighting your own body.
Skin conditions can also be helped with elderberries. It is touted that it can clear up acne.
Elderberries are diuretic and can help with kidney issues and constipation.
How to take Elderberries?
The fruit is not easy to find in America but is plentiful in throat lozenges, teas, syrups and supplements.
There are many different types of elderberry supplements available on the market today. The most popular are liquid extracts, which are taken orally. These are often taken by placing the drops under your tongue, but they can also be mixed with some water and drunk. The liquid supplement form is the most effective way to take elderberry extract, and it’s also the most cost-effective.
Who should not take Elderberry?
Large amounts of ingestion can lead to poisoning, nausea and diarrhea. You want to avoid unripe or uncooked berries. DO NOT eat raw elderberries.
Do not take if pregnant or nursing. This is true of many supplements. Always check with your doctor to learn what is appropriate at this special time of life.
Stop taking if you develop a rash or have trouble breathing. There is a possibility you can be allergic to elderberry.
If you have immune problems or are dealing with a chronic condition. Check with your doctor before starting any kind of dietary changes.
Does science back up the claims?
This is not all good news. Where there is a history of anecdotal claims that elderberries can help lessen the symptoms of flu and decrease the number of days you are sick. Some of the controlled latest medical studies don’t back up that claim.
This failure in the medical field of substantiating the anecdotal claims has not stopped the sale of elderberry products on the market. Supplement sales are around $100 million in the US alone.
Statistics for 2018 to 2019 Influenza Season
35.5 million illnesses
16.5 million medical visits
Should you take an elderberry supplement?
You must answer this question for yourself. The continued growth of elderberry supplement sales and the rich history of this plant would lead you to say yes even if the medical community hasn’t found supporting scientific research.
Elderberry is one of the most popular medicinal herbs in the world. It has been used as a natural treatment for centuries, and it has been proven effective for treating many conditions. The health benefits of elderberry are numerous. It can help fight viruses and bacteria, treat colds, protect against harmful radiation, and even reduce inflammation.