Elderberry for cold and flu symptoms

Posted By on September 13, 2011

Short-Circuit Flu Symptoms

The weather patterns are starting to change and the cold and flu season is now upon us. There are many supplements you can take throughout cold and flu season to boost your immunity and stay healthy. One of the most recognized herbs for immune system support is echinacea. In fact, many physicians are now starting to recommend it. But what about when prevention is no longer an option and a virus seems to win against your immune system- then what? Although echinacea works wonders in support of the immune system, particularly long-term, there is another herb that some clinicians believe significantly shortens the duration of colds and flu better than echinacea. This is elderberry.



What is Elder?
Elder varies from a 50 foot tall tree to a bushy shrub barely a few feet tall and is prevalent in the eastern United States but native to Asia, Europe and South Africa. It contains clusters of white flowers that mature to produce berries which range from blue, amber and red to black in color. Traditionally, the leaves, flowers, bark, and the berries were used both topically and internally. Both standardized and unstandardized extracts are made from the berries and flowers of elder and are available in liquid tincture, lozenge, and pill form.

Anti-viral Properties
Studies conducted with a particular epidemic flu showed a 50% reduction in recovery time when using elderberry extract. With the great success it has shown against the flu virus, researchers are now studying its effects against other viral infections such as HIV and herpes. Some speculate that its ability to promote perspiration and stimulate circulation is key to its success against the flu virus. Elder works well on respiratory infections including asthma and bronchitis, and reduces phlegm produced from overexposure to second-hand smoke. In addition, the flowers have been used for tonsillitis, sinusitis, hay fever, laryngitis, sore throat, chills and fever. Historically, elderberry has been used to treat measles and chickenpox, gout, and arthritis. The flowers have also been used for their positive effects on the mood and nerves in cases of depression and anxiety.

Elderberry and Blood Sugar
In addition to elderberry’s wonderful anti-viral properties, studies have shown its potential in the area of diabetes. Researchers in Northern Ireland found that elder flowers contain water-soluble constituents that can stimulate insulin secretion and glucose metabolism, having a regulating effect on blood sugar for diabetics.

Although no confirmed drug interactions exist, diabetics should monitor blood sugar closely due to elderberry’s ability to affect insulin secretion. Elderberry, when taken in the proper doses, has not had any major side-effects reported. There has been a small percentage of the population who have had an allergic reaction to elder. It should be known that the berries shouldn’t be eaten raw, only cooked, for they can cause nausea and vomiting. As always, when taking an herb or supplement in conjunction with prescription medication, you should inform your physician.

Note: These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you have medical problems seek a professional.

Works Cited
1. 2004. Elder General Information. Herbal Remedies.com. www.herbalremedies.com/sambucol-informationhtml Accessed 11/12/05.
2. March 2005. Sambucus nigra: Alternative Medicine Review. http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles Accessed 11/12/05.

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