You may have never heard of elderberry extract but it’s wonderful thing to have around. Since the time of Hippocrates, elderberries have been used for wine, syrup, jams, and to treat a host of ailments, including colds and flu. In fact, the entire elder tree has been used medicinally in Europe and North America for centuries. (1) And of course there’s the Elder Wand.
Most of us have succumbed to the flu at least once in our lives and it’s a very uncomfortable and inconvenient experience. Modern medicine has devised flu vaccines to protect us but they are controversial for several reasons and there’s no hard evidence that they consistently work. (2, 3, 4) Elderberries, on the other hand, have been clinically shown to contain efficacious anti-viral properties.
Elderberry Extract Benefits
Several studies have shown that a black elderberry extract, trademarked as Sambucol, enhances our natural immune response by increasing the production of inflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokines. These proteins attack numerous viruses, including influenza, herpes simplex, and respiratory syncytial virus. Taking elderberry extract has been shown to reduce the symptoms of the flu in three to four days. (5)
An Israeli study of Sambucol found that it works quickly against several strains of influenza viruses, with ninety percent of patients completely cured in two to three days after supplementation. (6)
A particularly virulent micro-organism that has become known as the H1N1 (Type A) flu is highly contagious and accounts for an estimated ninety-six percent of all confirmed types of flu in Canada. (7) Elderberry extract has been found to almost completely block H1N1’s (and others’) replication, shutting it down in short order. (8)
One of the phytochemicals in elderberry has been aptly named “antivirin” from a 1967 study that first published its discovery. Antivirin (AV)
“inhibits the development of plaques of polio virus in the fluid of the cultures in the absence of viral infection…AV is a new substance which is produced from cultured cells and inhibits the intracellular multiplication of several animal viruses…AV may be one kind of complicated protein…The effect of this inhibitor was of rather wide spectrum. Both of RNA viruses and DNA ones were inhibited with this inhibitor.” (9)