Elderberry is a flowering plant that typically grows in mild to subtropical regions of the world. It is mostly spread throughout the Northern Hemisphere and some parts of South America, Australia, and Asia. The berries are described as being small, black, or blue in color, and it has a delicate Muscat aroma as well as a tart taste.
Elderberry has been used throughout history in folk medicine for a variety of medicinal and dietary purposes. It has recorded benefits as a diuretic, laxative, and the bark can be used to induce vomiting. Typically the flowers of the plant have been used to help with swelling, pain relief, and inflammation. Dried elderberries, or elderberry juice, have been cultivated as a useful treatment for infections, headaches, nerve pain, and to help with general well being. Today it is commonly used as a natural immune system booster to help fight cold and flu symptoms.
If prepared correctly, the berries can also be cooked to make jams, chutneys, pies, and even wine. They may also be eaten fresh in salads. When boiled, the flower can be combined with sugar to make sweet syrup or to make tea.
Elderberry Health Benefits
Elderberry supplements are very nutritious and are popping up in health food stores around the world thanks to their many health benefits. Some of the most popular are listed below.
- They are packed with antioxidants and are low in calories.
- They are high in vitamin C – Providing up to 60% of the daily recommended value of vitamin C.
- They are rich in anthocyanin – a strong antioxidant with anti-inflammatory effects that is also responsible for giving elderberries their dark purple color.
- They are high in dietary fiber – with over a quarter of the recommended daily fiber intake, elderberries contain 7 grams of fiber per 100 grams of fresh elderberries. Fiber provides many health benefits including improved bowel function, reduced blood pressure, and lower cholesterol.
- They are a good source of flavonols – The elderberry contains the anti-oxidants flavonols isorhamnetin, quercetin, and kaempferol. And the flowers of the plant contain even more useful antioxidants. In fact, they are known to contain 10 times the amount of flavonols as the berries.
- They are a good source of phenolic acids – compounds that help to diminish the damage from oxidative stress on the body.
Elderberry as a Cold & Flu Remedy
Among the most common benefits of elderberry is its ability to help lower the severity of cold and flu symptoms. In a study performed on 60 people with the flu, the group that was given elderberry syrup four times a day had their flu symptoms improve in two to four days as compared to the group who did not take the elderberry syrup, whose flu symptoms took 7 to 8 days to improve.
By taking a 175 mg elderberry extract lozenge for two days, some people found that their flu symptoms, which included headache, muscle aches, nasal congestion, and fever improved after only 24 hours. While in another study 312 air travelers who took 300mg capsules of elderberry extract 3 times a day had less severe symptoms and a shorter duration of illness.
Elderberry for Heart Health
Elderberry juice may also help reduce the level of fat in the blood and lower cholesterol. According to some studies, a diet high in the flavonoids included in elderberries has also been found to lower the risk of heart disease.
Blood sugar control is vital in preventing heart and vascular disease caused by Type 2 diabetes. Elderberry can help reduce insulin secretion and improve blood sugar levels. According to recent research, it was found that the elderberry flower inhibits the a-glucosidase enzyme, which can help reduce insulin secretion and improve blood sugar levels.
Elderberries Are Rich in Anti-Oxidants
Anti-oxidants are an important component of staying healthy and helping to prevent chronic diseases. They are found naturally in foods like blueberries, chocolate, and elderberries. It is now evident that anti-oxidants are found in the leaves, flowers and fruits of the elderberry plants may have up to 3.5 times more antioxidants than vitamin E.
Elderberry Side Effects and Risks
Elderberries may have various health benefits, but it should also be noted that there might be some drawbacks with consuming certain parts of the plant. For example, the bark, seeds, and unripe berries contain minute amounts of lectins, which if eaten in larger quantities may lead to stomach issues. When cooking elderberries, it’s best not to use the leaves, bark, or branches as they may contain toxic substances. If you are planning on collecting the berries and flowers, it is best to correctly identify the correct elderberry plant. The plants from Europe or North America are generally considered to be the best to use as plants from other areas may potentially be toxic.
Elderberry Benefits for Kids
In recent years, there has been a huge shift to using more all-natural and organic products, including those used for children, and elderberry products for kids have become an incredibly popular choice for parents to naturally prevent or lessen cold and flu symptoms.
Elderberry syrup for kids is a great way to prevent colds and flu by essentially building up the child’s immune system. Elderberry syrup may help shorten the duration of the illness by 2-3 days, and it can also help treat upper respiratory infections and to ease allergy symptoms. Terrific products like Sambucus Elderberry Gummies are also a terrific choice for kids, as they’ll think they’re eating candy.
Since elderberries are high in vitamin A, they’re also a popular choice for parents to help improve their child’s eyesight. Also, being packed with lycopene makes them great to strengthen developing bones.
Elderberry syrup contains vitamin A, vitamin C, and antioxidants, which are all excellent sources to protect a child’s skin from environmental pollutants and hazards. In addition, the amino acid in elderberry maintains your child’s soft skin, while the potassium in the fruit helps to protect their skin from UV rays.
Is Elderberry Safe for Children?
Short answer: yes, it is safe for children. But even though elderberry is a natural product, it is a good idea to discuss it with your child’s pediatrician to make sure it’s right for him or her. It should be noted that children under a year old should not take elderberry syrup.
For many years, elderberries have been used for their health-boosting properties, especially regarding immune-support and combating cold and flu symptoms. But thanks to recent research, there is now plenty of evidence that elderberries are good for more than just colds and flu. There has been some indication that elderberry can help with heart health as well as boosting anti-oxidant levels, which are critical to cancer prevention and overall well-being Furthermore, elderberry tastes good and is a good source of fiber and vitamin C, making it the perfect supplement for kids and adults alike!
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Products discussed are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.