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The 411 on Elderberry

With the intense cold and flu season this year, and seasonal allergies beginning their own busy season, everyone is looking for the right combination to avoid symptoms. While flu vaccines help you avoid the flu, there is no vaccine for the common cold, and other sinus symptoms. Blogs and news articles tout Elderberry as a miracle solution, but does the truth live up to the hype?

Elderberries have long been used to support and improve the immune system by various cultures and traditions. It is used at the early stages of seasonal immune challenges in order to fight the disorder and boost the immune system. It has also been used by many tribes a tonic medicine and food to promote health and vitality. Black elderberries are unique in the sense that it provides both antioxidant and immune support due to the natural concentration of anthocyanins and other flavonoids in it. It has a rich history in herbal medicine and research shows that elderberry syrup prevents cold and flu by inhibiting viral replication which fights the flu or cold when taken. 

Elderberries help to fight allergies which are often confused with common cold. The reason they are so effective against allergies is the production of inflammatory cytokines. These cytokines produced have a specific effect on interactions and communication between cells which regulate the immune response. Elderberry increases the production of cytokines in the body, thereby activating a health immune system. 

Elderberry has also been documented to be a treatment for diabetes which is a disease that plagues the body in which the body cannot control the amount of sugar in the blood. It has been reported that elderberry reduces both the insulin resistance and insulin secretion in the body, allowing the regulation of sugar in the blood. It also serves as treatment for autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis or crohn’s disease. 

Although, elderberry has been said to be a treatment for various allergies and illness such as common cold and flu, we recommend consulting your doctor before self dosing with an elderberry preparation. Many homemade formulas can potentially worsen an illness by causing additional symptoms like nausea or vomiting. The elderberry can contain cyanogenic glycoside sambunigrin, alkaloid, sambucine which causes adverse effects if not properly deactivated through heat, so raw elderberry should never be consumed.  It is advisable for people with autoimmune conditions to use the elderberry products or syrup according to the doctor’s prescription as it can increase pro-inflammatory cytokines. They also have diuretic actions, so they could increase the effects of pharmaceutical diuretics 

Elderberry can sometimes be affiliated with certain types of allergic reaction which usually occur in people who are allergic to the plants from honeysuckle family which is medically referred to as the caprifoliaceae. The symptoms include skin rash, skin irritation and difficulty in breathing. The juice extracted can also cause symptoms such as diarrhea, weakness, vomiting and abdominal cramps. 

While research appears to show that Elderberry syrups and supplements supports immune health and may help keep symptoms away, sometimes allergies, cold and flu become severe. If your symptoms are bothering you, make an appointment to see your iCare provider and we will help you navigate your treatment plan.     

* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.