Elderberry extract is apparently the most powerful weapon we can use in the fight against seasonal flu or a deadly strain of influenza.
According to Gillian Aiken, Vice President of Marketing at Nature’s Way, a Canadian producer of herbal health products, clinical research, and scientific evidence have shown that elderberry is a strong ingredient that helps with cold and flu symptoms, and allows us to strike a unique balance between traditional medicine and modern science.
However, this is nothing new, as black elderberry has been used as a medicine for centuries, and it was mentioned in ancient medicinal texts, as a versatile natural medicine. In 400 BC, Hippocrates referred to it as his “medicine chest”, and it was mentioned many times in the writings of Pliny the Elder who recorded the practices of the ancient Romans.
Studies have shown that the concentrated black elderberry extract (Sambucus nigra L) – name brand Sambucol, is highly effective, unlike the highly touted flu shot.
The black elderberry is a rich source of standardized flavonoids and is both, bioavailable and active within the body for optimal effectiveness, as the body can easily use it, and it will get to all parts where it is needed, and won’t just pass through the digestive system.
Researchers have discovered that people who have taken elderberries have increased levels of antibodies against the influenza virus. There are probably numerous mechanisms of action, but a prime one is that elderberries contain hemagglutinin protein, which was found to stop a virus’ capability to replicate by inhibiting its ability to penetrate the cell wall, thereby preventing the virus from causing infection if taken before exposed.
If the elderberry extract is taken after infection, it will keep the virus from spreading, and thus reduce the duration of influenza symptoms.
PubMed reported that Sambucus nigra L. products are based on a standardized black elderberry extract, and have potent antiviral properties. Sambucol was found to be effective in vitro against 10 strains of influenza virus.
Moreover, another randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study during the influenza season of 1999 – 2000 in Norway that involved 60 patients (aged 18 – 54 years) suffering from influenza-like symptoms for 48 h or less found that the use of 15 ml of elderberry or placebo syrup four times daily for 5 days, relieved their symptoms 4 days earlier.
Scientists have isolated its active compound, called Antivirin, found in its proteins, and its antiviral qualities stop the spread of the flu virus.
This is especially important with something like the Avian flu, which, according to the CDC, has a mortality rate of 60% in the 600 cases reported worldwide. At this point, the Avian flu is rarely transmissible to, or between, humans. The fear is that a mutation of the virus could change that, instigating a deadly pandemic.
A 1995 study by Zacay-Rones found that black elderberry can fight the Avian flu, specifically Panama B strain as well. Since the first outbreak, there has been a concern that the influenza A (H5N1) virus might mutate or reassort its gene segments with human influenza viruses, resulting in a new virus that would be both highly lethal and transmissible from person to person. It is believed that the currently circulating influenza A (H5N1) viruses have in fact evolved to more virulent forms since 1997.
In 1993, a placebo-controlled, double-blind study was done on a group of people living in an agricultural community (kibbutz) during an outbreak of influenza B/Panama, and this extract was found to improve and completely cure the symptoms in 6 days.
Sambucol has been tested on both, Influenza A and Influenza B strains, and it was found to reduce the symptoms and the duration of flu sufferers. It cannot prevent the flu, but it can shorten the duration and severity of the flu.
There have been no reported adverse effects of the use of Sambucol, and it is safe for children older than 2, and the elderly.
Israeli researchers recommend half a tablespoon of Sambucol for children, four times daily, and a tablespoon, 4 times a day for adults. You can take it right out of the spoon, add it to sparkling water, or mix it with hot water and honey.
Store the elderberry extract in a cool dry place.