Elderberry is considered one of the most healing plants in the world in folk medicine. It's been used medicinally since as far back as 400 BC and the father of medicine, Hippocrates, even called it his "medicine chest"!
What is Elderberry?
There are roughly 30 types of elder plants or trees around the world, which bear the fruit known as Elderberry. The variety that's been used the longest is the European version, Sambucus Nigra.
What is Sambucus Nigra?
Sambucus Nigra is the most trusted form of elderberry whose flowers and berries have been studies the most frequently. It's also called European elderberry as well as black elder, black elderberry, real elderberry, or European black elderberry.
How Can I Tell if I'm Getting Real Elderberry?
Elderberry is hot right now, and many companies are eager to put it on their labels. It's common to see the term "elderberry juice"- this is NOT real elderberry extract!
To reap the benefits of elderberry (see the section below), you'll want to make sure the elderberry you buy is pure sambucus elderberry extract. It should be listed on the supplement facts panel on the back of the label, instead of as an "other ingredient".
Always buy from a reputable brand that is GMP certified. Supplements are not regulated in the U.S., unlike prescription medications, and there are companies who take advantage of this lack of regulation to sell ineffective products with cheap imitation ingredients.
Why Not Natural has GMP certification on all of their products.
What Does Elderberry Do for Your Immune System?
A randomized trial of 60 adults who had flu-like symptoms found that elderberry extract administered four times per day cleared their symptoms 4 days faster and were less likely to need rescue medication than those on the placebo (1).
Another study of 312 overseas travelers found that those who took elderberry extract were less likely to catch a cold in the first place (compared with the placebo group), had a significant reduction in cold severity (upper respiratory symptoms), and shorter cold duration. (2)
It's antimicrobial (meaning it can fight bacteria) and has promising antiviral properties as well. It has been shown to improve outcomes against both influenza and pneumonia (3)!
The biggest benefit, however, comes from the European variety (Sambucus nigra) being rich in plant pigments as well as phenolic compounds including anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are what gives them their beautiful color and have been shown to be bioactive in humans, meaning they can be used.
Anthocyanins are powerful antioxidants (polyphenols) that decrease cell death, fight free radicals (cancerous cells), and are anti-inflammatory and anti-viral. ! (4,5)
Elderberry protects your body's tissues from oxidative stress and pathologies associated with oxidative stress like cancers, coronary heart disease, and inflammation. (6)
1- Randomized study of the efficacy and safety of oral elderberry extract in the treatment of influenza A and B virus infections
3- Antiviral activity of Sambucus FormosanaNakai ethanol extract and related phenolic acid constituents against human coronavirus NL63
Jing-Ru Weng, Chen-Sheng Lin, Hsueh-Chou Lai, Yu-Ping Lin, Ching-Ying Wang, Yu-Chi Tsai, Kun-Chang Wu, Su-Hua Huang, and Cheng-Wen Lin
4- Inhibitory activity of a standardized elderberry liquid extract against clinically-relevant human respiratory bacterial pathogens and influenza A and B viruses