It sometimes seems that the best things come in the smallest packages. That’s certainly true of the elderberry, a tiny, tart berry that packs an outsized punch when it comes to supporting immune health.
Black elderberry (Sambucus nigra) has been used medicinally for centuries in Europe and North America, and is also well known in Chinese medicine. Many claims have been made about elderberry’s health benefits and the jury’s still out on many of them. However, modern scientific studies have confirmed the validity of what might formerly have been brushed aside as simply old wives’ tales, demonstrating that elderberry indeed has a measurable effect in treating the flu, alleviating allergies, and supporting overall immunity.
Elderberries contain very high amounts of the polyphenol anthocyanin, an antioxidant which contributes to the berry’s dark blue color and protects them from fading in even sustained periods of bright sunlight. Amazingly, these antioxidant elements carry through to anyone consuming the berry, and anthocyanins have been shown to boost the human immune system. Some elderberry syrups and lozenges have been studied for their effectiveness against cold and flu viruses, and results indicate that symptoms were reduced in both severity and duration.
Elderberry has an ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) score of over 14,000, much higher than many other berries and fruit, making it a powerful antioxidant tool and a concentrated source of immune boosters. In addition to its antioxidant properties, elderberry also contains Vitamin C (surprisingly, more than oranges!) along with valuable trace minerals.
Because they are often found growing wild, elderberries are an easily-accessible and inexpensive resource for many to support health during flu season with homemade elderberry tincture or syrup. If you’re less inclined to scramble through the woods in search of your own elderberries, you can get them here in dried form, or go straight to the ready-to-use syrups and lozenges.
Whether you choose ready-made remedies or the do-it-yourself variety, don’t overlook this tiny berry that can give your immune system a major boost.
*Because elderberry is widely regarded as an immune stimulant, persons with uncontrolled autoimmune diseases may choose to avoid using elderberry to stimulate an immune response that could cause a flareup of disease symptoms. Please consult an experienced healthcare practitioner for recommendations to fit your specific health conditions.