What are the health benefits of elderberries?
Elderberries are produced by the Sambucas tree which is native to Europe and North America. The fruit has traditionally been used by Native Americans for its healing properties and is still a popular ingredient because of the various health benefits it can offer.1
Elderberries can, for example:
- Support the immune system
- Ease coughs and sneezes
- Prevent the spread of cold and flu viruses
1. Elderberry can… support the immune system
Elderberries contain vitamins A and C which support the immune system and can, therefore, help protect against illness and infection.
The fruit also contains a few active chemicals (such as anthocyanins – if this means anything to you!) which have been shown to boost immune function2 and provide anti-viral effects.3 This means elderberries could help protect against future infections.
As well as all this, elderberries contain flavonoids which may increase the action of interferons. Interferons are proteins made by cells in response to viruses. They help to regulate the immune response and can interfere with the way in which viruses replicate.4
2. Elderberry can… ease coughs and sneezes
Not only is elderberry useful in preventing cold and flu viruses, it may also help to combat symptoms if they have already developed. A recent study has found, for example, that black elderberry supplements can effectively treat symptoms of an upper respiratory infection such as coughing, sneezing and congestion.5
These positive effects were seen in those with the common cold, as well as in those with the influenza virus.
This is good news as these symptoms are often treated with over-the-counter drugs, antibiotics, and antiviral medications which there are many concerns over. The overuse of antibiotics is a big problem, for example, as is the incorrect use of painkillers.
3. Elderberry can… prevent cold and flu viruses from spreading
Taking the Echinaforce Hot Drink is a good idea if you have an existing infection and don't want it to get worse or spread to those around you. Echinacea works very successfully to prevent a virus from taking over a cell, infecting it and then spreading to other cells.6
By blocking viral replication like this, you reduce the likelihood of symptoms such as chills, aching limbs, headache, fever, coughing and nasal congestion. This reduces the possible need for medications such as nasal decongestants, painkillers, cough medicines and antibiotics.
Elderberry, on the other hand, is useful in blocking viruses from leaving an infected cell and moving on to infect other cells.
Elderberry and Echinacea are synergistic in their effect which means the herbs are enhanced when they work together. This makes the Echinaforce Hot Drink a unique and effective product!7
Are elderberries safe to eat?
Unlike other fruits, including blueberries, strawberries and raspberries, elderberries are not produced commercially here in the UK, meaning you won't find them lining the shelves of your supermarket.
This is partly to do with the fact that uncooked elderberries contain toxins which can lead to gastric complaints. When preparing elderberry at home, often it's not possible to provide the heat and evaporation needed to get rid of the toxins which is why fresh berries are not readily available.
Products containing elderberry, however, alleviate this risk, whilst also providing the health benefits listed above. So, if you want to reap these benefits, it's best to stick to the likes of the Echinaforce Hot Drink, rather than foraging for your own fruit!