Elderberry is a fruit of the elder tree with medicinal properties. Elderberries can help treat a cold, get rid of coughing and improve your digestion. The benefits of elderberries are due to the many vitamins, nutrients, and antioxidants in the fruit. You can also help prevent getting the flu or a cold by making your own elderberry syrup.
Elderberries and elderberry preparations are a popular remedy in traditional medicine. Taking elderberry syrup at the first sign of a cold or flu infection could help prevent the infection from developing. A placebo-controlled, double-blind study showed that 93.3% of flu patients given Sambucol (a formulation of elderberry extract) were completely symptom-free within two days. (35, 36, 37)
There is also scientific evidence for many of the claimed benefits of elderberry fruit.
There are different species of elderberry tree, and black elderberry is best known for its medicinal and culinary uses. Black elderberry varieties are poisonous and shouldn’t be eaten raw, however cooking black elderberries destroys the poisonous substances found in the seeds, making them safe to eat.
In this article, you will learn about the many health benefits of taking elderberries. You will also find out how to make your own health-boosting elderberry syrup at home.
What is Elderberry?
Black elderberries grow on the European Elder and the American Elderberry (Sambucus nigra). There are many other types of elder trees (sambucus) which produce red and blue varieties of berries, however the black (or dark purple) elderberries are commonly used in syrups, extracts, wines, extracts, juice, jams and other foods.
Researchers from the University of Missouri report that juice from elderberries is high in antioxidants, vitamins A, B, and C, and potassium. Extracts from the elderberry fruit help to boost the immune system and contain many medicinal benefits. (1)
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), before the elderberries grow and ripen, fragrant white flowers appear on the tree. These aromatic flowers contain antioxidants that promote digestive health, treat infections, and help get rid of a cold quicker. (2)
Other therapeutic uses for elderberry include creating healthy elderberry syrup or juice. Elderberry extracts have antioxidant properties that stimulate the immune response in the body. This is one of the reasons why practitioners recommend elderberry supplements to prevent influenza infections. (3)
Some parts of the elder tree are poisonous and need to be used with caution. Consuming them raw may cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, however cooking the black elderberries makes them safe to eat as the heat destroys the poisonous substances found in the seeds.
People say that elderberries have a sweet taste but can be extremely tart when consumed raw. If you decide to make elderberry syrup, elderberry tea, or elderberry wine, you can adjust the sweetness to suit your taste.
Health Benefits of Elderberry
Let’s look in more detail at the many reasons why elderberry is so good for your health. You will find out how to use elderberry for the flu, clearing bronchial infections, and improving your digestion. At the end of the article you will find a recipe for making elderberry syrup at home.
Elderberry Boosts Your Immune System and Help You Recover Faster from Flu and Colds
The rich content of vitamin C in elderberry means that elderberry helps improve your immunity and prevent infection.
Researchers from the Cleveland Clinic report that syrups made from elderberries boost the body’s immunity. This means that taking elderberry supplements can help to prevent a cold or flu infection from getting worse. To help keep your immune system strong, doctors recommend taking elderberry along with vitamin C, B6, and E. (4)
Another reason why elderberry syrup and supplements are good for your health is due to the number of antioxidants. Research has revealed that there over 70 different compounds in elderberries that kill off free radicals. (5)
There is also specific research into the benefits of elderberry syrup, elderberry tea, and elderberry juice for warding off infections.
Taking black elderberry can help you recover quicker from a cold
If you feel a cold coming on, you should take black elderberry syrup to help clear up your respiratory infection quicker.
The journal Nutrients reported that black elderberry extracts have antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and immune-boosting properties. Studies have shown that taking elderberry liquid extract helps to significantly shorten the duration of a cold. (6)
Giving elderberry syrup to kids is also a great way to help clear up your child’s cold quicker. As well as taking elderberry syrup for a cold, elderberry lozenges or gummies can help boost kid’s immunity and prevent infections. (6)
Elderberry extracts can help you recover a lot faster from the flu
The antiviral properties of elderberry are also useful for treating influenza infections to help you recover from the flu faster.
One study on the medicinal effect of elderberries found that they are useful for treating influenza A and B virus infections. Taking 15 ml of Sambucol (elderberry syrup) four times a day helped to reduce symptoms of flu in a 5-day period. A significant improvement in symptoms, including fever, was experienced by 93.3% of the elderberry group within 2 days. (7)
Some studies have found that the elderberry Sambucol helped to reduce the time you have the flu by 3 or 4 days. (8)
Researchers also found that taking elderberry juice can help prevent viral infections such as the flu. (9)
Learn about how long the flu usually lasts and what you can do to prevent coming down with the flu.
Elderberry can help to treat symptoms of respiratory infections
Taking elderberry syrup for the flu and cold can also help to treat many complications associated with these infections.
Studies into the therapeutic properties of elderberry extracts have found that it helps treat infections of the airways. Some studies show that elderberry flowers and elderberry extract help reduce mucus in the airways. Some natural remedies for bronchitis include elderberry extracts for treating sinusitis. (11)
Elderberry Can Help to Reduce Inflammation
You can also use elderberry extracts and flower infusions to reduce inflammation.
Although short-term inflammation helps clear infections, chronic inflammation can be damaging to your body. Long-term inflammation is connected with diseases such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and arthritis. (12)
Scientists in 2017 reported that elderberry and flowers from the elder tree have an inhibiting effect on inflammation. The anti-inflammatory effect of elderberry could help manage chronic diseases such as diabetes, arthritis, and also cardiovascular disease. (13)
Studies have shown that taking liquid elderberry extracts helps to inhibit the body’s inflammatory responses. Apart from recovering from the flu faster, black elderberry juice can help to stimulate immunity and may benefit people going through cancer treatment. (14)
The anti-inflammatory effect of elderberry juice or elderberry powder can also help to lower cholesterol. One study showed that taking 400 mg of dried elderberry extract helped to bring down cholesterol. Another study found that taking 50 ml of elderberry juice daily helped reduce cholesterol. (15)
Find out more anti-inflammatory foods that can help lower your risk of developing chronic diseases. Apart from drinking elderberry tea to lower inflammation, you could also make your own turmeric and ginger tea for chronic inflammation.
Elderberry May Help Alleviate Constipation
If you suffer from digestive problems such as constipation, taking elderberry extracts can help to improve the frequency and consistency of your stool.
Research has shown that digestion aids containing elderberry extracts can help to treat constipation. A natural constipation remedy containing anise, fennel, senna, and elderberry acts as a laxative. This elderberry compound was helpful in treating chronic constipation. (16)
Consuming elderberry tea or elderberry syrup may help with getting your bowels moving faster. Although there are no scientific studies showing that elderberry itself treats constipation, the journal Molecules lists elderberry as a traditional remedy for constipation. (17)
Elderberry Can Boost Your Cardiovascular Health
Regularly consuming elderberry syrup could help prevent the serious results of heart disease.
Researchers say that elderberry is among the list of berries with cardiovascular benefits. Black or purple elderberries contain compounds called anthocyanins that protect against cardiovascular disease. Consuming elderberries also helps to reduce the effects of oxidative stress on your heart. (18)
Take elderberry syrup to help lower blood pressure
The journal Pharmaceutical Biology reports that extracts from elderberries help to inhibit enzymes that are associated with hypertension. Elderberry helps benefits your heart by improving arterial pressure and also lowering blood pressure. (19)
Find out how to bring your blood pressure down in a matter of minutes and how to treat chronic hypertension naturally.
Elderberry extracts help lower cholesterol to keep your heart healthy
A 2018 study on mice found that long-term supplementation with elderberry can help bring down cholesterol. Consuming black elderberry extracts can lower harmful cholesterol levels. This can greatly reduce your risk of stroke, a heart attack, or other cardiac-related issues. (20)
Elderberry compounds help lower arterial plaque (atherosclerosis)
A buildup of plaque in your blood vessels can result in hardened arteries and restrict your circulation. The journal Food & Function in 2015 reported that anthocyanins in elderberries help prevent atherosclerosis progression due to their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activities. (21)
Elderberry is Good For Diabetics
One of the benefits of talking elderberry extracts for its health benefits is to manage symptoms of diabetes.
A 2016 study on the anti-diabetic effects of elderberry found that it can help to treat diabetes. Taking elderberry extracts lowered insulin resistance and has the potential to benefit people who are diabetic. (22)
Other studies have revealed that elderberry liquid extract has insulin-like activity when consumed. (23)
According to results published in the journal Molecules, taking elderflower extracts can help control blood glucose spikes after eating. (23)
If you take medication for diabetes or need to control your blood sugar, you should speak with your doctor before treating diabetic symptoms with elderberry.
You can also find out about other foods that help to manage diabetes and prevent diabetic complications.
Elderberry Helps Prevent Bone Mass Loss
Elderberries are also good for helping to keep your bones strong and prevent fractures.
Elderberry supplements can benefit women in preventing osteoporosis in the menopause. Researchers have found that taking elderberry can help strengthen the bones of postmenopausal women. Trials found that elderberry extract helps prevent bone density loss after the menopause. (24)
Other studies have shown that extracts from elderberries can help boost bone mineral density in people with diabetes. (25)
Find out how to prevent osteoporosis and brittle bones in this article.
Elderberry Helps Improve Your Skin’s Appearance
You can take elderberry supplements or elderberry juice to help improve the look and tone of your skin.
Consuming elderberries regularly helps to give your body plenty of vitamins that are good for your skin. Elderberries contain a lot of vitamin C and A which help to promote healthy skin. (26)
Some studies have found that elderflowers steeped in water and used as a skin tonic can also improve complexion and lighten the skin. (2)
Further reading: Proven Skin, Hair, and Nail Vitamins That Really Work (Evidence Based).
Elderberry Has Anticancer Properties
Studies have shown that American elderberry and European elderberry extracts have potential use in treating cancer.
The Journal of Medicinal Food reported that antioxidants and anthocyanins in elderberry help to kill off cancer cells. Elderberry extracts helped to inhibit certain enzymes that are linked to tumor growth. (27)
Other research has shown that elderberries are one of the richest sources of anthocyanins. Researchers say that consuming foods rich in anthocyanins can help lower your risk of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. (28, 29)
Learn about other foods to add to your diet that can help to reduce your risk of cancer.
Elderflowers Are Very Healthy for You
Tea made from the flowers or berries of the elder plant also contains a number of health benefits. Steeping elderflowers in hot water helps to extract a number of antioxidants that can help prevent many diseases.
Research from 2017 on the healthy benefits of elderflowers and elderberries found that elderflower tea had more antioxidants than the berry tea. Elderflower infusions were also more potent than teas made from blueberries, raspberries, or strawberries. (33)
Elderberry Wine and Its Health Benefits
There are also some health benefits to making and consuming your own elderberry wine.
The Journal of Food and Chemistry reports that elderberry wine also contains antioxidants. The antioxidant potential of wine made from elderberries was similar to that of red grape wine. (34)
Side Effects of Elderberry
The elderberry plant produces black berries that have many health benefits. Consuming cooked berries or making your own elderberry syrup can help keep you healthy.
However, there are some precautions to be aware of if you want to benefit from elderberry extracts. The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health warns that the leaves, stems, and raw (uncooked) fruit can contain toxins. Cooking the elderberries and the seeds will destroy any toxic substances. (30)
If parts of the elder plant aren’t prepared properly, the result can be nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Can you take elderberry during pregnancy? Doctors from eMedicineHealth say that there is no research on the effects of taking elderberry while pregnant. So, the advice is to avoid using elderberry during pregnancy. (31)
The book Drugs and Lactation Database reports that there is no data on the effects of elderberry while breastfeeding. Even though cooked elderberries are not toxic, doctors still recommend avoiding taking elderberry if you are breastfeeding. (31, 32)
Some people may be allergic to elderberry or elderflowers. (35)
Where to Buy Elderberry?
Elderberry extract supplements can come in the form of capsules or lozenges, powder, dried berries and elderflowers, gummies or syrup.
These can be bought online here or in drug stores, health stores or you can simply make homemade elderberry syrup.
How to Make Elderberry Syrup (Elderberry Syrup Recipe)
- 1 cup fresh black elderberries (or ½ cup dried elderberries)
- 3 cups water
- 2 tablespoons fresh ginger root (or 1 tsp. ground ginger)
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 cup raw honey
Place all the ingredients, except the honey, in a pot and bring to a boil over low-medium heat. Then reduce the heat and simmer for about 45 minutes to one hour. Stir occasionally. While stirring crush the elderberries with the back of your spoon.
When the liquid is reduced by half, remove the pot from the stove, allow it to cool down for a few minutes and strain the mixture using a sieve.
Add the honey once the mixture is warm, but not too hot, until the honey is dissolved. Pour the syrup to a sealed glass jar (you can sterilize your jar for 10-15 minutes in boiling water for better preservation).
The syrup can be kept in the fridge for several weeks. Use 1 tablespoon four times a day, or half the amount for children.
Originally posted: https://www.healthyandnaturalworld.com/elderberry/?fbclid=IwAR0h1RZq-Hq6FBh4_jzBbtI6z6G4jdgqNm-4rCESkwUJjemBdsuVqhPQJgQ
Author: Jenny Hills, Nutritionist and Medical Writer