Does elderberry help with colds and flu?

Student Herbalist, Reflexologist, Yoga Teacher, Writer & Product Trainer

14 May 2021

Does Elderberry help with colds and flu?

Elderberry has a long history of treating colds and flu, including lessening the severity and shortening the duration of cold and flu like symptoms. They are rich in beneficial phytochemicals and their antibacterial and anti-viral properties can help to prevent cold and flu viruses from spreading and multiplying.

How does Elderberry help with colds and flu?

Research proves that the antibacterial (1) and anti-vital effects (2) of Elderberries can help with colds and flu and in clinical trials Elderberry has been shown to lessen viral respiratory symptoms, as well as reduce the time spent sick (3), but how does it work? Below I explain the key ways in which Elderberry can help with colds and flu.

Like all medicinal herbs, Elderberry contains a whole load of health promoting phytochemicals. These are what make Elderberry helpful against colds and flu. Just some of Elderberry's phytochemicals are polyphenols, flavonoids, anthocyanins, polyphenols and lots of vitamins (4).

Trials on Elderberry show that Elderberry helps with colds and flus through many channels (5). One important way it does this is by hampering the action of neuraminidase enzymes. A flu virus has little spikes called hemagglutinins. These tiny spikes are covered with neuraminidase enzymes. These help the virus invade and spread around healthy cells.

Luckily, Elderberry's phytochemicals are able to stop neuraminidase enzymes in their tracks. By doing this, the virus is not able to spread to healthy cells as easily (6). Slowing this process down reduces the likelihood of symptoms such as chills, aching limbs, headache, fever, cough, and nasal congestion. So, Elderberry is ideal to take when you feel the first sign of a cold or flu.

How can I take Elderberry for colds or flu?

The berries of the Elder tree are what's used to make Elderberry remedies for colds and flu. One of the most effective ways to take Elderberries is in liquid form, such as a hot drink, but you might see Elderberry sold as gummies or lozenges in stores too.

Herbs work synergistically, meaning they work really well in partnership with each other. That's why Elderberry and Echinacea are often paired together. Both Elderberry and Echinacea fight to stop viral replication and treat symptoms of a cold or flu (7).

How much Elderberry should I take for a cold or flu?

Always follow the manufacturer's guidelines on safety and dosage. Bear in mind, liquid preparations are easier for your body to absorb and assimilate. I recommend you choose a liquid over something that needs chewing.

Hot drinks are shown to be helpful for combating colds and flu. So, if you want to turbo charge your Elderberry, find a preparation that you can add hot water to (8). Enjoy the comforting feeling of sipping on a hot drink while you nurse yourself back to full health.

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