Used for its antioxidant activity to lower cholesterol, improve vision, boost the immune system, improve heart health and for coughs, colds, flu, bacterial and viral infections and tonsillitis. Elderberry juice was used to treat a flu epidemic in Panama in 1995.
Elderberries have been used for their medicinal benefits for thousands of years throughout North America, Europe, Western Asia and North Africa. In the Middle Ages, it was considered a Holy Tree due to its ability to improve health and longevity. Elderberries are full of powerful nutrition and have incredible health benefits.
Elderberries are a dark blue, purplish berry that is both rich in color and nutrition. These berries contain very high amounts of the polyphenol anthocyanin, which give them their dark color. Anthocyanin’s antioxidant ability allows the berries to survive periods of intense UV light radiation from the sun. These antioxidants are passed on to those who consume the berry and provide anti-carcinogenic benefits.
Elderberry has a very high ORAC, or oxygen radical absorbance capacity, score: over twice as much as blueberry and cranberry. Elderberry also contains trace minerals and has more vitamin C than oranges. Studies have shown that elderberry supports brain health, improves immune coordination, protects blood vessels and reduces cancer cell growth patterns in the body.
Elderberry has potent antiviral effects:
German studies have linked anthocyanins with greatly increased immune coordination. Anthocyanins have been shown to boost the production of immune cytokines. The cytokines are key messengers in the immune system to help regulate the immune response. This allows the body to defend against disease. These studies have shown the antioxidant balance of elderberry to be greater than equal doses of vitamin E and vitamin C.
Studies have also looked at the effect of anthocyanins on the mucous membranes and the sinuses. They have found that these antioxidants protect the mucous membranes and reduce inflammation-associated swelling. A study published in 2004 demonstrated elderberry’s ability to improve flu-like symptoms. This study examined 60 people with the flu. The group that received elderberry extract for five days had their symptoms subside four days earlier than the placebo group.
Viruses multiply by invading our cells through their hemagglutinin spikes. These spikes allow them to penetrate the cell membrane and move in and take control the cell. Elderberry contains a potent antiviral agent called “antivirin” which helps neutralize the activity of the hemagglutinin spikes. When these spikes are deactivated, the viruses are no longer able to get inside of the cell and replicate.
Elderberry protects and promotes good circulation:
A 2000 study published in Free Radical Biology and Medicine showed that elderberry anthocyanins protect the inner layer of blood vessels from oxidative stress. The inner membrane of the blood vessels are called the endothelium. This study and others have shown that the epithelial cells absorb anthocyanins into their membrane, which gives them a strong protection from inflammatory stressors. This effect improves circulation and reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke.