The Scoop on Elderberry
By Austin Hand
What is Elderberry?
Elderberry is a fruit that forms from the blossoms of the Sambucus tree, more commonly known as an Elderberry tree. Elderberry trees are native to Europe and North America, and what can be derived from these trees (the actual berries) is something that has been commonly used as plant based medicine across the world for centuries now. The elderberries themselves are small black and blue berries that form in a cluster from the white elderberry flower. A naturally grown, beautiful and majestic opportunity toward a healthy lifestyle.
Historically, the dried berries have been used to treat influenza, infections, sciatica, headaches, nerve pain, and a diuretic. The berries can also be cooked and used for non-medicinal uses such as to make juice, jams, pies, and elderberry wine.
As for today, we’re going to talk about elderberry as a supplement to ascend in your daily life… We can always revisit the wine, jam and pies another time!
Elderberry’s Health Benefits
Elderberry is most commonly used to treat cold and flu symptoms and is praised for being loaded with antioxidants. You might be thinking, “loaded with antioxidants… great! But what does that mean?” Well, keep reading because we are going to explore exactly that in a thorough manner, as well as all the other great benefits from taking elderberry supplements below.
Immune System Support
Studies have shown that taking elderberry may significantly reduce the severity and length of cold and flu symptoms. One study found that the participants who took elderberry showed symptom improvements in just 2-4 days, while the participants who did not take elderberry took 7-8 days to improve their symptoms. This great benefit of taking elderberry supplements is not limited to cold and flu. It has been found that elderberry may also improve the symptoms of sinusitis and bronchitis. This could be in part because elderberry polyphenols have been found to support immune defense by increasing the number of white blood cells.
Although, increasing white blood cell count is not the only way in which elderberry supports your immune system. Elderberry has also been found to help prevent the growth of harmful bacteria such as helicobacter pylori, a bacterium that lives in your digestive tract and has the ability to harm your stomach lining.
Packed With Antioxidants
You hear all the time that certain foods or supplements are high in antioxidants, but what are antioxidants and why are they notoriously known to be so beneficial? Antioxidants are natural compounds in food that help neutralize and fight harmful radicals in the human body.
Free radicals are highly unstable molecules that are naturally formed when you exercise and when your body converts food into energy. We are also exposed to free radicals through our environment, i.e., cigarette smoke, air pollution, sunlight, and the consumption of fried foods.
These free radicals have an unpaired electron, which causes them to become very unstable and harmful to our bodies, causing “oxidative stress.” Oxidative stress is a process when the free radicals steal an electron from stable, healthy cells, which damages those cells and can even cause them to deteriorate. Oxidative stress plays a role in a variety of diseases including various forms of cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and cardiovascular diseases.
Studies have shown that antioxidants counteract oxidative stress by giving an electron to the free radicals, stabilizing them. This helps reduce cell deterioration and therefore have the ability to mitigate/reduce the likelihood of the diseases mentioned above. In addition to a healthy diet, antioxidants are extremely important because of the number of free radicals we are exposed to in our everyday lives.
Improve Heart Health and Reduce Blood Sugar
Did you know that the number one cause of death in the United States is heart disease? In fact, cardiovascular disease is the cause of death for about one in every 4 deaths in the United States. Due to the common on-the-go lifestyle, and high cholesterol diets - almost half of all Americans have at least one of the three biggest risk factors for heart disease: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking. When considering these day-to-day risks that are difficult to avoid, taking steps to reduce your exposure of heart disease is imperative. Nothing can replace a healthy diet and active lifestyle, but you can give yourself a boost & advantage by adding a supplement such as elderberry to your diet.
Studies have shown that elderberry may help reduce the level of fat in the blood, which may help reduce cholesterol levels in the liver and aorta. Also, elderberries may reduce the levels of uric acid in the blood, which is a great benefit because high levels of uric acid have been linked to high blood pressure and other negative effects on the heart.
Furthermore, elderberries can assist with increasing insulin secretion which can help improve blood sugar levels. Since so many Americans suffer from, or are at risk of type 2 diabetes (and type 2 diabetes is a key factor for cardiovascular disease), taking steps to reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes is essential.
Luckily, with a healthy lifestyle and some supplemental elderberries, you improve the health of your cells, boost your immune system, and reduce your risk of cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and cardiovascular diseases.
 Z. Zakay-Rones, E, Thom, T. Wollan, and J. Wadstein, Randomized study of the efficacy and safety of oral elderberry extract in the treatment of influenza A and B virus infections, Nation Library of Medicine, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15080016/