Did you know that elderberry extract is one of the most powerful weapons against influenza?
Whether you are affected by seasonal flu or a deadly strain of influenza, elderberry extract is indeed one of the best things you can add to your herbal arsenal.
Unalike the praised flu shot, concentrated black elderberry extracts have been proven to be extremely effective. It is one of the natural remedies that have been extensively studied and written up in medical journals. Most of the studies are based on black elderberry extract (Sambucus nigra L) – name brand Sambucol.
According to PubMed:
Sambucus nigra L. products – Sambucol– are based on a standardized black elderberry extract. They are natural remedies with antiviral properties, especially against different strains of influenza virus. Sambucol was shown to be effective in vitro against 10 strains of influenza virus. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized study, Sambucol reduced the duration of flu symptoms to 3-4 days.
The Journal of International Medical Research argues that elderberry extract is a proven treatment, pointing out to a different study:
Elderberry has been widely used in folk medicine to treat influenza, colds and sinusitis, and has been reported to have antiviral activity against influenza and herpes simplex. We studied the efficacy and safety of oral elderberry syrup for treating influenza A and B infections. Sixty patients (aged 18 – 54 years) suffering from influenza-like symptoms for 48 h or less were enrolled in this randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study during the influenza season of 1999 – 2000 in Norway. Patients were given15 ml of elderberry or placebo syrup four times a day for 5 days, and recorded their symptoms using a visual analogue scale. Symptoms were relieved on average 4 days earlier and use of rescue medication was significantly less in those receiving elderberry extract compared with placebo. Elderberry extract seems to offer an efficient, safe and cheap treatment for influenza.
An Ancient Panacea
Elderberry was even mentioned in ancient medicinal texts, so its medicinal use is anything but new. Hippocrates referred to it as his “medicine chest” thanks to its wide-ranging uses, and it was even mentioned in the writings of Pliny the Elder.
How It Works
Researchers have isolated the active compound called antivirin, which is situated in the proteins of the black elderberry. This compound has potent anti-viral properties that help stop the spread of flu virus. According to one study, this component increases the production of inflammatory cytokine, which in turn activates the immune system.
This is particularly important when it comes to viruses like the Avian flu, which notes a mortality rate of 60 percent in the 600 cases reported so far. At this point, it is rarely transmissible, but experts fear of mutation of the virus and potential instigation of a pandemic.
According to a 1995 study done by Zacay-Rones, black elderberry was found to be effective against the Avian flu, particularly Panama B strain. Here is an extract from the study:
“A standardized elderberry extract, Sambucol (SAM), reduced hemagglutination and inhibited replication of human influenza viruses type A/Shangdong 9/93 (H3N2), A/Beijing 32/92 (H3N2), A/Texas 36/91 (H1N1), A/Singapore 6/86 (H1N1), type B/Panama 45/90, B/Yamagata 16/88, B/Ann Arbor 1/86, and of animal strains from Northern European swine and turkeys, A/Sw/Ger 2/81, A/Tur/Ger 3/91, and A/Sw/Ger 8533/91 in Madin-Darby canine kidney cells. A placebo-controlled, double blind study was carried out on a group of individuals living in an agricultural community (kibbutz) during an outbreak of influenza B/Panama in 1993. Fever, feeling of improvement, and complete cure were recorded during 6 days. Sera obtained in the acute and convalescent phases were tested for the presence of antibodies to influenza A, B, respiratory syncytial, and adenoviruses. Convalescent phase serologies showed higher mean and mean geometric hemagglutination inhibition (HI) titers to influenza B in the group treated with SAM than in the control group. A significant improvement of the symptoms, including fever, was seen in 93.3% of the cases in the SAM-treated group within 2 days, whereas in the control group 91.7% of the patients showed an improvement within 6 days (p < 0.001). A complete cure was achieved within 2 to 3 days in nearly 90% of the SAM-treated group and within at least 6 days in the placebo group (p < 0.001). No satisfactory medication to cure influenza type A and B is available. Considering the efficacy of the extract in vitro on all strains of influenza virus tested, the clinical results, its low cost, and absence of side-effects, this preparation could offer a possibility for safe treatment for influenza A and B.”