Many of us look to stock up on supplements at this time of year in an attempt to help our bodies fight off cold and flu bugs that are doing the rounds. One such seasonal savior comes in the form of Elderberry.
The Elderberry fruit is rich in vitamins, mineral, nutrients and fibre
The Elderberry fruit is in fact considered by many to be a medicinal plant and is used in folk medicine across the globe. They are rich in vitamins, mineral, nutrients and fibre which give them many health benefits beyond their flu fighting abilities. This includes enhancing the health or your heart and skin. As Elderberries contain high levels of vitamin A they may soothe the skin, help ease the appearance of age spots, and prevent or lessen wrinkles. The fruit's high fiber content brings benefits such as improvement in bowel functioning, reduction in blood pressure, protection against cardiovascular disease and lowering of blood cholesterol.
Also rich in Zinc, a key immune booster
Elderberries are rich in antioxidants and jammed full of zinc, which as we know is a fantastic immune booster. In one scientific study, 60 people with flu-like symptoms took 15 ml of elderberry syrup four times a day and their symptoms improved 4 days before the people who took a placebo.
In another study, 32 people with flu-like symptoms took lozenges containing 175 mg of elderberry extract 4 times a day for 2 days. After 24 hours, they reported an improvement in symptoms, such as fever, headache, muscle aches, and nasal congestion.
In a double-blind, randomized control trial researchers looked at whether elderberry extract could prevent people from experiencing cold-like symptoms after traveling on an airplane. Participants took lozenges containing 300 mg of elderberry extract and 150 mg of rice flour twice a day for 10 days before traveling.
The researchers found that the capsules did not prevent the symptoms, but people who took elderberry had less severe symptoms that lasted for a shorter time.
Don't eat them raw!
It's important to note that eating raw elderberries can cause nausea and digestive upset so do be aware of this side effect. Elderberry syrup often contains high levels of sugar which should be noted too.
There is a solid evidence to support the fact that people have used elderberries for their potential health-boosting properties for many years, most notably to fight colds and the flu. And there are a number of studies that support these claims, but they do tend to feature small numbers of participants. Researchers need to investigate further before they are sure about the health benefits of elderberries for all consumers.
A healthy balanced diet is the best way to consume all the nutrients we need. Sometimes however this isn't possible and then supplements can help. This article isn't intended to replace medical advice. Please consult your healthcare professional before trying any supplements or herbal medicines.