Elderberry Extract for Flu Relief

Did You Know…that elderberry extract may help treat symptoms and shorten the duration of the flu?

With an especially nasty flu season predicted this year, many medicine cabinets will be stocked with conventional and alternative medications for warding off bacteria and viruses.

Unfortunately, antiviral medications such as Tamiflu carry some grave side effects, including all manner of gastrointestinal upset, skin irritations, cough and respiratory symptoms—the very ones you were hoping to avoid.  Serious health complications of Tamiflu include delirium, anxiety, and possible self injury.  According to CDC data, Tamiflu is ineffective in 99.6% of 1,148 seasonal flu samples tested!

This flu season, have some elderberry extract on hand instead.  It’s been used for centuries to help shorten the duration of colds and flus, and now science backs up traditional wisdom.

Evidence for Elderberry 

Research conducted so far on elderberry looks favorably on this fruit-bearing plant.  Florida researchers tested elderberry extract on the H1N1 virus in a test tube.  The study, published in the journal Phytochemistry, showed that elderberry flavonoids—antioxidants that protect cells against free radical damage—latch on to the parts of the H1N1 virus that infect host cells.  In this manner, elderberry extract keeps the virus from being able to infect more host cells.

Elderberry extract has also demonstrated an inhibitory effect on certain bacteria and influenza A and B viruses while strengthening the immune system.  In one study, German scientists found that anthocyanins in elderberry extract increased production of cytokines, which help control immune response.

Sambucol is a proprietary brand of elderberry extract that’s been used in several different clinical trials.  One such study, published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, showed that Sambucol shortened the duration of the flu by three days.  Flu sufferers taking a placebo exhibited symptoms for six days, whereas those taking Sambucol got better after two or three days.  Preliminary study results show that an elderberry extract lozenge (ViraBLOC) significantly reduced flu symptoms when taken within 24 hours of the first signs of illness.

Interested in Elderberry Extract? 

Elderberry extract doesn’t act as a preventative as much as a remedy.  For best results, you’ll want to take within 24 hours of the first signs of the flu.  However, experts advise caution when purchasing your elderberry extract.  The raw or unripe fruit of the elderberry plant can carry an ingredient related to poisonous cyanide.  Therefore, they recommend you look for Sambucus nigra on the label, and avoid Sambucus ebulus, a type of dwarf elderberry plant that has toxic properties.

Elderberry extract also acts as a diuretic, and can trigger a blood glucose-lowering effect.  Consult your medical practitioner to make sure elderberry extract is safe for you.