Have you ever been sick and gone to the doctor to hear you have a virus and have to just ride it out? When the body becomes infected by a virus, the immune system starts making appropriate antibodies which eventually will neutralize the virus. Viral infections, like the flu, or the common cold, cannot be treated by an antibiotics or other drugs, making them a useless (and often disadvantageous) option. Instead of feeling hopeless, let’s better understand our immune system, and our options.
If your immune system is strong enough, your body would not be susceptible to viruses. Susceptibility factors include immune competence, fatigue, vitality, genetics, nutrient levels, and other factors. In this busy world it may not seem always possible to get enough sleep, or eat a perfect diet, and even if you haven’t been dealt a perfect genetic makeup, there is still hope. In times when the immune system has failed to do its job, there is one natural aid that has proven to be among the most effective for battling viruses: Elderberry. Elderberry (Sambucus nigra L.) is from a large shrub native to Europe, Africa, and Asia, and has been used, in it’s cooked form, for treating influenza and colds for centuries. Elderberries, which contain very powerful antioxidants, have been used in folk medicine treat colds, influenza, wounds (topically) and have even shown to be effective against the herpes simplex virus. Some evidence suggests that chemicals in elder flower and berries may help reduce swelling in mucous membranes, such as the sinuses, and help relieve nasal congestion as well.
Although the exact mechanism of action has not been identified, data does show elderberry is high in the anti-viral flavonoids cyanidin 3-glucoside and cyanidin 3-sambubioside, and has been shown to be effective as an antiviral against herpes Simplex 1, the common cold, sinusitis, and influenza. Not only do dozens of clinical studies demonstrate elderberry’s beneficial effect by the stimulating immune response and preventing viral infection, but I can honestly say this winter has been one of my families healthiest on record as we try to remember to take elderberry at the first sign on a sniffle, or after being in contact with anyone sick with a cold or flu! Lucky for you, you don’t need to travel to Africa to benefit; we sell organic elderberry syrup, elderberry shots, and homemade elderberry starter kits (with recipe) right at the Juice Barn!!
Kinoshita, E., Hayashi, K., Katayama, H., Hayashi, T., & Obata, A. (2012). Anti-influenza virus effects of elderberry juice and its fractions. Bioscience, biotechnology, and biochemistry, 76(9), 1633-1638.
Krawitz, C., Mraheil, M., Stein, M., Imirzalioglu, C., Domann, E., Pleschka, S., & Hain, T. (2011). Inhibitory activity of a standardized elderberry liquid extract against clinically-relevant human respiratory bacterial pathogens and influenza A and B viruses. 11, 16-16. 16 doi:10.1186/1472-6882
Pizzorno J. E. & Murray, M. T. (2013). Textbook of Natural Medicine (4th. ed.). St. Louis, MO: Churchill Livingstone.
Zakay-Rones, Z., Thom, E., Wollan, T., & Wadstein, J. (2004). Randomized Study of the Efficacy and Safety of Oral Elderberry Extract in the Treatment of Influenza A and B Virus Infections. JOURNAL OF INTERNATIONAL MEDICAL RESEARCH, 32(2), 132-140. doi: 10.1177/147323000403200205