Elderberry syrup health benefits

Elderberry juice, elderberry syrup, elderberry gummies…Does your pediatrician, work-out friend, and the cashier at Target keep suggesting elderberry to protect your family’s health this winter?

Here are 3 reasons this berry’s all the rage for flu season and beyond, and the best ways to make its health benefits a habit for your immune system.

The Magic Berry 

It’s flu season. My daily routine is to mix up Emergen C in a water bottle, wash hands, eat oranges, and take Vitamin C (when we remember). When a cold or flu symptom appears, I go straight for Zinc lozenges, or occasionally Airborne. This probably works but just tastes gross.

This year the routine changed. At the Urgent Care we usually frequent, my doctor, PA, and nurse kept mentioning elderberry syrup. And so somewhere between our family’s second strep and first influenza diagnoses, we figured we didn’t have anything to lose. So we got on the black elderberry train.

Elderberries, also known as Sambucus nigra,  come from varieties of the black-berried Sambucus (or European Elderberry or Black Elderberry) Tree. ( For those biologists reading, this is a flowering plant that belongs to the Adoxaceae family.) The flowers are white or cream-colored and the magic berries are found in black or blue-black clumps.

Elderberry extract, produced from cooked berries, have been used for medicinal purposes throughout history. Recent studies on elderberry’s health benefits have produced a resurgence of popularity of the syrup and other natural products, even amidst the mainstream medical world.

elderberry bush

1. It Has Numerous Health Benefits

Elderberries are high in nutrients to boost the immune system and improve overall health, including Vitamin C, high levels of dietary fiber, flavonoids and other antioxidants, which decrease the risk of free-radicals damaging cells.

Additionally, it has been shown to improve heart health, as some studies support evidence that it reduces levels of fat in blood and decreases cholesterol. Elderberry extract may also reduce uric acid in the blood which improves blood pressure, increase insulin secretion and improve blood sugar levels in diabetics.

2. Elderberry Is a Flu Fighter

Recent studies revealed that the use of elderberry extract can decrease both the duration and severity of flu-like symptoms and symptoms from the common cold.  The extract contains both ant-viral agents and anti-inflammatories. Often, in colds and flu, it is the body’s anti-inflammatory response to the intruding virus, not the virus itself that produces symptoms.

A clinical trial of flu patients who took 15 ml a day of elderberry syrup showed improvement in 2-4 days. In contrast, it took 7-8 days for the control group to improve. Further, another study showed elderberry comparing favorably with the treatment benefits of Tamiflu, the closest treatment doctors can prescribe as a flu remedy. 

Another double-blind placebo-controlled study of air travelers showed a significant reduction in cold and flu symptoms for those who took elderberry syrup vs. those who didn’t. The sample was asked to provide a diary of upper-respiratory activity, amidst other factors.

Elderberry Syrup

Photo Credit: Perry O’Rourke @purelyelderberry

3. Elderberry Tastes Good. 

Yes, it’s true. And I fight to get my kids to swallow anything that’s not gold and shaped like fish. The great news about black elderberries is that they’re a natural product that comes in multiple forms. The syrup may be the most most-known of the elderberry products and you can find it in local stores as well as being sold by independent businesses.

But my crew prefers their flu-fighting elderberry supplements in the form of yummy gummies! Zarbees manufactures Sambucus elderberry gummies for the common cold and flu relief, as do Sambucol, Airborne, and Nature’s Way. Read instructions carefully for varying dosage suggestions especially regards to children’s usage.

But Be Careful with those Berries…

A growing number of studies on elderberry fruit in the form of juice, syrups, and supplements continue to demonstrate its health benefits. But doctors warn that these studies are still in the research phase.

This research is also only based on commercial products, rather than home remedies. Medical professionals advise using manufactured preparations. This process further guarantees the proper cooking of raw berries and the removal of potential toxins. Consuming raw elderberries can sometimes cause side effects like weakness or nausea.

We are always grateful to learn of new, natural ways to keep our families healthy. Do you have a favorite form of elderberry or other natural product for immune health? This winter stay warm, stay well and berry-on!

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Health & FoodNina Simone

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