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Black Elderberry: An Extraordinary Immune Berry

January 04, 2018

The use of black elderberry (Sambucus chinensis) in herbal medicine has been reported since the time of Hippocrates, the father of medicine from ancient Greece.

Black elderberry was commonly used as a folk medicine in Europe, America, Asia and North Africa for everything from wounds to infections, toothaches, and snakebites.

Native Americans used elderberry branches to make flutes and hunting whistles, and called it the “tree of music.”

It was used in Native American ceremonies in dyes and body paint, and in hair dyes in Roman society.

Today in modern herbalism, black elderberry is one of the most highly regarded plants in therapies for the immune system, and natural cold and flu protocols.

Black Elderberry Vs. Colds and Flu

German research finds flavonoids in black elderberry enhance immune response by increasing the production of cytokines (immune system proteins that protect against disease).

In 2004, clinical research showed an extract of elderberry can reduce the duration of flus by 4 days over placebo.

In 1995, the juice of elderberry was even used to help fight a flu epidemic in Panama.

Preliminary in vitro (cell line) research shows black elderberry extract can inhibit H1N1 (swine flu) and H5N1 (bird flu) viruses.

More research needs to be done before we know whether elderberry can help people infected with serious viruses like this, but the early research is promising.

Black elderberry is also a great traveler’s companion. People who travel frequently are exposed to germs in crowded spaces, and often need extra immune system support.

New 2016 research finds black elderberry decreases the symptoms and duration of colds in people traveling by plane.

Today, most herbalists keep black elderberry in their natural medicine chest for seasonal illnesses. Taken internally, it can ease stubborn coughs, respiratory congestion, and soothe ear infections.

Black elderberry is a good immune system herb for the whole family, including children, the elderly, or people recuperating from illness.

How Does Black Elderberry Work?

Black elderberry is a highly nutritious herb. It’s extremely high in vitamin C, rivaling the content of rose hips and black currants.

It also contains ample amounts of vitamin A, beta carotene, B6, potassium, iron, and flavonoids.

As a rich source of nutrition, black elderberry offers broad immune system benefits, has anti-viral properties, and is a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory herb.

What Else Can Black Elderberry Do For Your Health?

Black elderberry can help cool fevers, encourage healthy circulation, and detoxify the body from lingering bacteria and viruses.

As a natural anti-inflammatory, it can help control seasonal allergies and relieve sinusitis, even in children.

Black elderberry promotes urinary system health for people prone to bladder problems.

As a rich source of antioxidants, it can also enhance cardiovascular health, improve eyesight, and support normal cholesterol levels.

In Israel, black elderberry is used to boost immune system health in people with AIDS and cancer. As an antiviral, it can also aid healing for minor outbreaks of cold sores or herpes.

How To Use Black Elderberry

When looking for elderberry, it’s important to use black elderberry (Sambucus nigra, Sambucus chinensis).

Black elderberry is the safest elder species to use. Other types of elder may have toxic properties, particularly if used improperly.

Furthermore, when choosing black elderberry, liquids are preferable to capsules or tablets as the most benefits are achieved when a person can taste this herb.

To help recover from colds or flu, try a black elderberry syrup. You can purchase a syrup at the health food store or you can make it yourself.

For a basic syrup:

Add 1 cup of dried black elderberries to 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let the berries simmer for 20-30 minutes. Remove from heat. Mash the berries and strain the excess liquid through a cheesecloth. Add a little honey to sweeten the strained syrup and reheat for a few minutes before cooling. For kids over 4, use 1 tsp. 3 times daily. For adults, take 3 tsp. 3-4 times daily.

Elderberry extract is another good choice. Elderberry works well blended with other immune system herbs like Reishi, Astragalus and Schizandra in an Immune Daily Tonic to help reduce the frequency of colds and the amount of time it takes to recover.

This blend is a great choice to help build and strengthen the immune system over time.

Black elderberry is an herb you won’t want to be without, especially if colds and flu are making their rounds in your household. Try it for yourself and be amazed by its benefits.

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Zakay-Rones, Z., Thom, E., Wollan, T., & Wadstein, J. (2004, March-April). Randomized study of the efficacy and safety of oral elderberry extract in the treatment of influenza A and B virus infections.The Journal of International Medical Research, 32(2):132-40.
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