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Elderberry for Cold and Flu

When the warmer weather leaves us, and we close up all the windows to hibernate, cold and flu season hit pretty hard. There are options for flu prevention which include getting a flu shot, however, there aren't any other vaccines to prevent colds! There must be other ways to protect our families from the cold and flu viruses without vaccines and other medications right?

The answer is Yes! Let me introduce you to a natural purple remedy, elderberries! These purple berries have been used for thousands of years as both medicine and in food all over the globe! 

Surprisingly these little berries are thought to prevent or perhaps reduce the duration of upper respiratory infections, herpes outbreaks, decrease inflammation and pain due to cold and flu season.

Many people consider the elderberry plant one of the most powerful for preventing and treating colds and influenza and swear by its antiviral properties. (Not to mention, there are studies being done on HIV and Cancer!) The results of some studies show that elderberries do indeed have significant benefits against cold and influenza symptoms.

There have been many studies and here is an example of a randomized, placebo-controlled study, double-blind done in Norway: Researchers gave either a placebo syrup or elderberry syrup to patients who reported having flu-like symptoms for less than 48 hours. On average, the patients who received the elderberry syrup saw relief of symptoms 4 days earlier than the group that received the placebo syrup. As an added benefit, the patients in the elderberry syrup group reported taking significantly fewer over-the-counter medications in hopes of symptom relief.

Research is showing that people who have taken elderberries have higher levels of antibodies against the influenza virus, showing that not only may the berry be able to treat flu symptoms, it may also be able to prevent influenza infection.

Where is the proof that elderberries are thought to work as anti-viral? There are many mechanisms, but a prime one is that elderberries contain hemagglutinin protein. This protein has been shown 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 elderberries are taken after infection, that keeps the virus from spreading, which reduces the duration of influenza symptoms.

The research is continuing and more and more studies are being done. Hopefully this remedy is taken into consideration when a member of your family starts to get sick. 

1. Zakay-Rones Z, Varsano N, Zlotnik M, et al. Inhibition of several strains of influenza virus in vitro and reduction of symptoms by an elderberry extract (Sambucus Nigra L.) during an outbreak of Influenza B Panama. J Altern Complement Med. 1995;1(4):361–9. 
2. Zakay-Rones Z, Thom E, Wollan T, Wadstein J. Randomized study of the efficacy and safety of oral elderberry extract in the treatment of Influenza A and B virus infections.” J Int Med Res. 2004;32(2):132-40. 
3. Roschek Jr. B, Fink RC, McMichael MD, et al. Elderberry flavonoids bind to and prevent H1N1 infection in vitro. Phytochemistry. 2009;70(10):1255-61. doi: 10.1016/j.phytochem.2009.06.003.