What is Elderberry, Anyway??

Updated: Nov 16, 2021

If you are at all familiar with the “crunchy” lifestyle, you have likely heard of elderberry syrup. In fact, you’ve probably even run into it bottled up on the shelves at your local grocery store or wal mart. Elderberry syrup is one of the most common natural remedies and many people have at least heard of it and know of its more well known benefits. However, If you happen to NOT be one of those people, you’re in luck! Im about to give you the simple, to-the-point run down of what elderberry is, what it’s good for, and why you should consider using it for you and your family.

What is it?

Traditional recipes for syrups, tinctures, extracts, etc. will most likely call for black elderberries, or sambucus nigra. This tree-like plant is native to Europe. There are, however, other varieties (red, and purple), some of which are grown domestically here in the US and are also used for their identical health benefits. The flowers and berries are both harvested for herbal use. Both the elder flower and elderberry are used medicinally to treat sinusitis (inflammation of the sinuses), cold/flu symptoms, and to increase immunity and respiratory health. Elderberries have been used medicinally for thousands of years. Over time, scientists and herbalists have studied extensively to enhance their understanding of the plant and how it benefits the body. In recent years surrounding COVID-19, the spotlight has been on the plant’s proven potential to naturally increase immunity and help alleviate cold and flu symptoms. However, even though those are 2 of the elderberry’s most known benefits, that doesn’t mean that’s all there is to it.

What is it good for?

1. Cold/Flu relief

A 2007 study done on the effectiveness of elderberry syrup showed that symptoms were alleviated 4 days sooner in those who took it versus those who took a placebo during their illness(https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15080016/) So, if you tend to think of elderberry syrup as a replacement for your typical store bought cold medicines such as DayQuil or Theraflu, you wouldn’t be wrong at all! However, I hope to bring to light the other much lesser known benefits of elderberry syrup as it is so much more than a natural expectorant.

2. Antioxidants

The high antioxidant content of the elderberry has much nutritional value. Free radicals are unstable molecules in the body that can cause cell damage and are also known to be an underlying cause to the progression of some chronic illnesses. They are formed by the natural metabolic processes that our bodies go through on a daily basis and therefore can’t be avoided. However, the inclusion of antioxidants in our diets helps to counter the effects of the oxidative stress that happens within us regularly. The exceptional antioxidant content of the elderberry is one of the main components of its medicinal substance.

3. Anti-inflammatory and analgesic

In addition to the above, elderberries are also full of flavonoids which are plant derived compounds with natural anti-inflammatory properties. Just as they can help reduce the severity of sinusitis, they can also be used to reduce inflammation in other parts of the body which in turn, helps reduce pain. Nitric oxide is a chemical in the body which triggers inflammation as a result of an injury or illness. The anthocyanins present within the elderberry plant help prevent this by inhibiting the production of nitric oxide and limiting pain as a result of a lessened inflammatory response. Elderberry supplements are used to help those with joint pain, GI symptoms, dental pain, cuts, bruises and burns.

4. Heart health

Because of its general nutritional value, being high in vitamins A and C, anthocyanins, flavinoids, and polyphenols, elderberry has been known to increase heart health. A study in rats showed a decrease in blood pressure after being fed food extracted from elderberries (https://waset.org/publications/1487/intervention-of-sambucus-nigra-polyphenolic-extract-in-experime!) In human studies, elderberry juice has shown potential to decrease the levels of fat in the blood and decrease cholesterol (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25758596/) These benefits, in conjunction with the help from the anthocyanins within the elderberry, work together to decrease your overall risk of heart disease if used on a regular basis.

Why should I use it?

It’s habitual of us to treat our symptoms with medicine retroactively as opposed to taking preventative measures to help ensure our health before we even start to feel ill! Elderberry is recommended to be taken daily to reduce the risk of even getting sick in the first place. A tablespoon a day keeps the doctor away!

Well, I can’t say it’s a foolproof method, but I can say that by boosting your immune system and taking the recommended daily dose of elderberry syrup, you are doing your part to drastically decrease your chances of being under the weather.

Most people who use elderberry syrup do so only throughout the fall and winter as that is when cold and flu rates are at their highest. However, I would argue that there are many benefits to taking elderberry syrup all year ‘round! Just by considering the health benefits discussed above, the reasoning behind that should be understood.

Elderberry syrup can be taken as young as 1 years of age. Honey poses a health risk to those under the age of 1 which is why it is contraindicated for infants. The small daily dose of 1 teaspoon for children up to age 12, and 1 tablespoon for those older is all you need to keep you and your family healthy!

If you are still questioning whether this is right for you, you can always do more research on your own instead of simply taking my word for it! In fact, I encourage everybody to independently take responsibility to educate themselves before making a decision that will impact their health. Being informed and educated is the first step to bettering your own individualized health and wellness!

I hope the information provided for you here has answered some questions you may have had about elderberries and the benefits of them. Now, the rest is in your hands!

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