Elderberry is a popular medicinal plant widely used for its numerous health benefits. Its history dates back as far as 400 BC, and it is considered one of nature’s most versatile solutions for different health ailments.
The Ancient Egyptians used the elderberry plant to heal burns and improve their complexions, while the Native Americans use it as an effective treatment for different forms of infections.
Today, however, elderberry is commonly taken as a supplement for the treatment of cold and flu symptoms.
What is Elderberry?
Elderberry represents different varieties of the Sambucus tree, which is native to Europe. The most common variety is Sambucus nigra, also called black elder or European elderberry. This variety is mainly beneficial to your health and healing.
In folk medicine, elderberries are described as one of the world’s healing plants. Hippocrates, who is the father of Medicine, studied the wide range of medicinal effects of the elderberry plant, and called it his “medicine chest.”
Benefits of Elderberry
Elderberries are not only nutritious, but they help to fight against many ailments, from cold and flu symptoms to infections, and heart diseases.
Below are some of the prominent health benefits of elderberry:
Alleviate Cold and Flu Symptoms
The flower infusions and elderberry extracts have been widely used to reduce the severity of influenza. Various forms of the elderberry, including capsules, gummies, liquids, and lozenges are effective for the treatment of a cold.
A study of 60 influenza patients showed that those who took the elderberry syrup (15ml) four times daily experienced great improvement in less than 4 days compared to a control group who took 8 days to see symptom improvement.
Another study on 312 air travelers showed that those who took capsules containing 300 mg of elderberry extract three times daily recovered faster when they became ill as compared to those who did not take these capsules.
However, note that much of the research is on commercial products, but the efficacy and safety of homemade remedies is not yet established.
High in Nutrients
Elderberries are rich in minerals and vitamins. Additionally, they are also low in calories, which makes them stand out as one of the best plants in the world of nutrition.
100 grams of fresh elderberries contain less than one gram each of protein and fat, 18.4 grams of carbs, and 73 calories.
However, the nutrient amount of this plant varies, depending on the variety, environmental conditions, and ripeness of the berries. Hence, you may not get equal nutritional value from every serving.
It May be Good for Heart Health
Elderberries may help to improve heart health because they are rich in three types of flavanols which have antioxidant properties.
Several studies have shown that flavanol helps to decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease. Elderberry juice has also been studied to decrease cholesterol, reduce the level of fat in the blood, and improve blood sugar levels.
Elderberries increase insulin secretion in the body and this helps to control blood sugar levels, especially in diabetic patients. This helps to lower the risk of heart and vascular disease.
However, note that a direct reduction in heart attacks by taking elderberries has not yet been demonstrated, and more studies are still ongoing.
High in Antioxidants
Many diseases like cancer and type 2 diabetes develop as a result of oxidative stress- which happens when reactive molecules during normal metabolism accumulate in the body.
But antioxidants, including flavonoids, vitamins, and phenolic acids, are able to remove these reactive molecules.
The fruits, flowers, and leaves of the elderberry plant contain rich sources of antioxidants, and research has shown that diets having these antioxidants may help prevent chronic diseases.
A study looked into 15 varieties of berries and compared different types of wine. The result showed that elderberry has the best antioxidant properties.
Acts As a Natural Diuretic
Diuretics are chemical substances that increase the amount of salt and water expelled from the body as urine. These products are often used to treat high blood pressure.
Elderberry provides these diuretic properties, as well as, acts as a laxative to ease constipation.
Supports Skin Health
The anthocyanin content of elderberries supports skin health. This compound has been shown to combat the effect of natural aging, thereby improving the outward appearance of your skin tone and glow.
Also, elderberries are a rich source of Vitamin A and C, which help to keep the skin moisturized and maintain its integrity.
Other Benefits of Elderberry
Apart from the benefits listed above, there are many reported benefits of elderberry, including:
- Fights harmful bacteria
- Helps fight cancer
- Reduce toothache pain
- Helps relieve hay fever
- Eases gingivitis
- Helps in treating HIV/AIDS
- Decreases constipation
- May support the immune system
- Could protect against UV radiation
However, it is important to note that much research is still ongoing to support these other benefits of elderberry.
While elderberries offer many health benefits, the roots, leaves, and bark of the plant can be toxic. These parts contain lectin, a protein that causes stomach upset if you eat too much of it. Besides, these parts contain bitter elements that can produce cyanide.
Most accounts of elderberry poisoning have been associated with either poorly executed homemade recipes or raw consumption. That’s why it is safer to go for elderberry teas, tablets, syrup, and other products common in the pharmacies.
Elderberry syrup has huge health benefits, including the treatment of cold or flu symptoms. However, ensure you speak with your physician before trying elderberry syrup. This is important because taking a supplement must be tailored to your health.
Elderberry and its derivatives have been explored as a remedy for many several ailments, including cold, flu, and diabetes. It also has a huge anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory effects, and antidepressant tendencies.
However, ensure you avoid the uncooked elderberry, and the bark, roots, and leaves of the plant. You can get the elderberry syrup, teas, and tablets to enjoy the benefits of this nutritious plant.