Elderberry is one of most used plants for medicinal purposes in the world. It was traditionally used by Native Americans to treat infections, and ancient Egyptians used it to improve their complexions. Nowadays the berry is often taken as a supplement to treat cold and flu symptoms – although it is not recommended to eat these raw, as they can be poisonous and cause stomach problems.
These berries are rich in antioxidants and have many nutritional benefits. They are high in vitamin C and dietary fibre, are a good source of phenolic acids and flavonols and are rich in anthocyanins – compounds with strong anti-inflammatory effects.
Studies have shown that elderberry can reduce the severity and length of flu symptoms. One particular study concluded that people with influenza who consumed elderberry syrup showed improvement in symptoms within two to four days, whereas the control group took over a week to improve.
Anthocyanins in elderberries help to keep the immune system strong, they do this by encouraging the production of cytokines that work in a similar way to hormones. They can be both inflammatory or anti-inflammatory depending on what the body needs, and are released into the blood stream directly or locally into body tissue during an immune response.
May support heart health
It has been shown that elderberry may reduce the level of fat in blood and decrease cholesterol, whilst the flavonoids could reduce the risk of heart disease.
A study of mice with high cholesterol found that the amount of cholesterol in the liver was reduced when consuming a diet that included elderberry. Another study suggested rats that ate foods containing polyphenol extract from elderberry were less susceptible to organ damage caused by high blood pressure.
Insulin secretion can be increased by elderberry, as well as the improvement of blood sugar levels. Considering type 2 diabetes is a major risk factor for heart disease, it is important to prevent these conditions by controlling blood sugar.
Dried elderberries can be consumed in a tea or syrup, or added to baked goods. However elderberries should not be consumed raw, as they can be poisonous. An alternative would be to take an elderberry supplement, such as our Organic Elderberry Powder. We suggest taking 1 heaped teaspoon or 6 grams daily with food, or as directed by a healthcare practitioner.