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Hero Ingredient: What Is Elderberry And How Does It Affect Immune Function?

Hero Ingredient: What Is Elderberry And How Does It Affect Immune Function?

Elderberry is the fruit of the Sambucus tree. It has been used for centuries in medicine by many different cultures. The Egyptians used elderberry for its wound-healing properties and to improve their complexion, while the Native Americans used it as a form of infection treatment.

The Sambucus tree belongs to the family of flowering plants known as Adoxaceae. There are a few different types of elderberry, including the Sambucus canadensis, which is native to the United States, and Sambucus nigra, which is native to Europe and Asia. The most commonly used for medicinal purposes is the Sambucus nigra.


What is elderberry used for?

Elderberry has a few different uses. In cooking, the fruit can be used in a variety of different ways to add a tart, tangy, or bitter flavor to pies, tarts, jams, or liqueurs. Elderberries are pretty easy to find and can be picked straight from the wild if you want to use them in a recipe. It’s important to remember that uncooked elderberries can make you sick, however, so they must be cooked before consumption.

Medicinally, elderberry has been used for a plethora of different ailments. Due to its high nutritional content, taking or eating elderberry can help the body keep up with its stores of vitamin C, fiber, phenolic acids, flavanols, and anthocyanins. The antioxidant power of elderberry makes it a great aid in the recovery of oxidative stress. It has also been shown to have potential use as an antiviral, antibacterial, and antidepressant.


Image by Manfredrichter on Pixabay: Elderberry can be found along river banks in the United States, but remember not to eat it raw.


What is elderberry good for?

Although centuries of use have shown that elderberry can be beneficial when used as medicine, modern research has proven just how powerful its properties can be in treating a wide variety of different health issues. Some studies have found that elderberry consumption can lead to a healthier heart by reducing cholesterol levels and lowering the risk of heart disease.

In the case of a cold or flu, elderberry has also been shown to help people recover faster from symptoms and shorten the duration of the illness. Improvement isn’t seen in just one symptom, but many; studies found that elderberry ingestion helped with headaches, fever, muscle aches, and nasal congestion in those with the flu. It has also been found that taking elderberry on a regular basis can actually reduce the risk of getting a cold at the same time as reducing the severity of symptoms felt during a bout of illness.

Other studies have shown that elderberry may also be a good assistant in the fight against cancer. Some reports have found that taking elderberry can also protect against UV radiation, and fight off harmful bacteria within the body.  

Other uses include treatment of:

  • Sinus pain
  • Sciatica
  • Nerve pain
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Toothache
  • Mouth and gum inflammation
  • Constipation

Elderberry also has certain cosmetic uses, such as in the treatment of acne as well as wrinkle reduction. But that’s not all it can do; this versatile fruit can also play a vital role in the health of the immune system.


How does elderberry affect immune function?

The secret to elderberry’s success as an immune booster is its nutrient density. Since the body (especially the immune system) needs specific nutrients to run at its best, taking elderberry can help keep a host of different processes running smoothly, thus keeping the immune response up to par. One particular control study found that those taking elderberry while fighting an influenza virus were found to have more antibodies than those taking the placebo.

That same study looked at how taking elderberry would affect cytokine production. Cytokines are small proteins that are important for cell signaling and cell modulation. They are responsible for how the immune and blood cells grow and how they react to outside pathogens. In terms of the relation between cytokines and elderberry, the study found that those taking elderberry had better and more efficient production of inflammatory cytokines, thus improving the overall response of the immune system.


How much elderberry do I take for immune support?

Elderberry immune support dosages will differ from person to person. There is a general guideline when it comes to taking the medicinal plant for its immune-boosting properties, but the typical amount will depend on the manufacturer’s support label. GenBoost’s Black Elderberry Immune Plus provides full immune support with two 600 mg doses of elderberry per day.


Image by RitaE on Pixabay: Taking elderberry as an immune-boosting supplement can help to ward off illness. 


Are there any side effects for taking elderberry?

Although elderberry has been used for centuries as a type of medicine, there are some side effects and risks you should look out for when beginning a new supplement regimen. If you are on any immunosuppressing drugs, it’s like that elderberries will interact with the medication by reducing their effectiveness. This is likely due to their immune-boosting effects. If elderberries are eaten in excess, they can also have laxative effects, which can lead to abdominal cramping and diarrhea.

Elderberries are considered something of a holy grail when it comes to fruit medicine. They don’t just treat one ailment, but can have an effect on many because of how nutrient-dense they are. Taking elderberry for immune support can benefit you in the long run by lowering the risk of contracting illness or reducing the severity and length of an illness.


Featured image by RitaE on Pixabay

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