Elderberry, or elder, has been used for centuries around the world. It is known to treat wounds when applied to the skin and is taken orally to treat respiratory illnesses such as cold and flu. Elder has anti-inflammatory, antiviral, anti-influenza, and anticancer properties. Some evidence suggests that chemicals in elder flower and berries may help reduce swelling in mucous membranes, including the sinuses, and help relieve nasal congestion.
In 2009, Retroscreen Virology of London tested the Sambucol brand of Elderberry syrup, which is formulated using black Elderberry. The results of their testing proved the syrup to be 68.3% effective against the H1N1 virus, also known as Swine Flu1. Another study conducted in 2005, found the same brand of syrup to be 99% effective against the H5N1 virus, more commonly referred to as the Avian bird Flu1. Other studies conducted concluded that the syrup was highly effective in the treatment of influenza A and B. Elderberry proved to lessen the amount of discomfort felt by those studied, and symptoms were relieved within 2 to 3 days and at least 3 days earlier than the control group.
The nutritional and medicinal benefits of elderberry are pretty phenomenal. Elderberries contain minerals like iron, potassium, phosphorous, and copper, as well as vitamins, such as vitamin A, vitamin B, and vitamin C, proteins, and dietary fiber. Add some of the beneficial organic compounds that function as anti-inflammatory and antioxidant agents in the body, and you have one powerful berry! Elderberry is a powerful antioxidant. It contains flavonoids, which have antioxidant properties and may help prevent damage to the body’s cells. In fact, it outranks blueberries, cranberries, goji berries, and blackberries in terms of total flavanol content.
There are several species of elder, but Sambucus nigra, or European elder (also called black elder), is most often used for medicinal purposes. Avoid dwarf elder (Sambucus ebulus), which can be toxic. Use a trusted preparation of elder because of raw or unripe fruit, as well as the leaves, seeds, and bark, contain a chemical related to cyanide, which is poisonous.
How To Take Elderberry
Elderberry is a supplement you can use every day and should be taken regularly when going back to school. If your child happens to come down with something, I encourage parents to give it 2-3 times a day when an illness is present. The recommended dosages for elderberry syrup (such as Nature’s Way Sambucus) are:
Children ages 1-6 years old:
1 teaspoon (5ml) per day and can be increased to 1.5-2 teaspoons (10ml) per day, for use during winter months.
2 teaspoons (10 ml) per day.
When ill you can increase your dose and use a variety of forms:
- Dried flowers can be used as an infusion for adults, 3 to 5 grams, three times daily.
- Liquid Extract, for adults, use a 1:1 in 25% alcohol, (3 to 5 ml) three times daily.
- Tincture, for adults, use 1:5 in 25% alcohol, (10 to 25 ml) three times daily.
When it comes to elderberry, there are a lot of great products out there. You can also make it yourself! Just make sure to do your research so you make it properly.
About The Author
Jami is a mother of three and a Holistic Health Practitioner with a 10-year background in Nursing and Emergency Medicine. She is a Certified Children’s Nutritional Therapist, Holistic Nurse, EMT currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Naturopathic Medicine. Jami is also a member of the American Holistic Nurses Association. She offers both local and long distance services. You can reach Jami via email – firstname.lastname@example.org
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Fundukian, L., ed. The Gale Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine, third edition, 2009.
Guo, R. American Journal of Medicine, November 2007; vol 120: pp 923-929.
Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database web site: “Elderberry.”
Natural Standard Patient Monograph: “Elderberry.”
Zakay-Rones, Z. Journal of International Medical Research, 2004; vol 32: pp 132-140.