Seems like everyone’s talking about elderberry benefits and uses these days. Of particular interest is their use in preventing the flu or at least minimizing its symptoms. It’s not surprising considering that boosting immunity is top of everyone’s mind.
These little purplish-black berries have in fact had a long history of use in herbal medicine. They have been used to make elderberry syrup, preserves and tinctures, which have been used for a variety of purposes, from boosting the immune system to helping reduce inflammation and joint pain.
Before digging deeper into elderberry benefits and uses, let’s start with a caution – as with all natural remedies, elderberries do not provide a proven cure for any medical ailment. Many people have found improvements by adding elderberries or the elderberry syrup to their routine, but it should not replace medical advice from your doctor. This is true of all natural and holistic remedies.
With that being said, here are some important things to understand about elderberry.
Nutrients in Elderberries
Elderberries are packed full of nutrients, which is what makes them good for overall health and wellness. In addition to the high levels of antioxidants, these tiny berries are also loaded with other important nutrients, including Vitamins A & C, Folate, Calcium, and Potassium.
These little berries are low in calories and rich in fiber.
Benefits of Elderberry for Flu & Colds
Several studies that have been done have proven the effectiveness of elderberry in boosting the immune system and preventing infections or at least reducing the intensity of the symptoms. They do this by reducing the production of cytokines, a hormone-like substance in the body that causes inflammation, especially in influenza and arthritis.
Taking elderberry regularly during cold and flu season can be hugely beneficial. Some studies have even shown that taking elderberry can prevent infection completely if taken regularly before contracting any infection.
If you already have the cold or flu, taking elderberry can help stop the virus from spreading through the respiratory tract, thereby preventing further complications.
Even WebMD, an authority health site, acknowledges the benefits of elderberry for boosting the immune system and taming inflammation.
Please Note: This should not replace medical treatment for the flu, pneumonia, or more serious illnesses. It is meant to help you build up your immune system in conjunction with other methods of treatment and is not meant to be used as a replacement for medical advice or as a cure.
More Benefits of Elderberry
Reduces headaches and joint pain – Thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties, elderberry works exceptionally well to reduce headaches as well as muscle and joint pain.
Regulates bowel movement – The high fiber content of elderberry makes this an excellent natural remedy if you have digestive or bowel issues, especially with constipation or stomach cramps.
Protection from kidney issues – Consuming elderberries regularly helps to keep the kidneys healthy.
Soothes minor skin irritations – Elderberry can help soothe minor skin conditions such as irritation due to acne outbreaks or stress.
Different Ways to Use Elderberry
Interestingly, there are so many different ways you can use elderberry but the one way you cannot use them is eating them raw. Unlike most other berries that are delicious and juicy when eaten raw, raw elderberries are poisonous.
Here are some of the ways you can use elderberry safely:
Elderberry syrup is one of the most popular forms of consuming this healthy berry. The syrup is a thick liquid made from elderberries and a few other natural ingredients that do more than just add to the taste of the syrup. The additional ingredients in the syrup work to complement and boost the health benefits of elderberry.
You can make your own elderberry syrup but if you are looking to buy, I highly recommend this Nature’s Way Original Sambucus Elderberry Syrup. Nature’s Way is reputed for their high quality products and this particular elderberry syrup has received more than 2,500 fantastic reviews by people who have actually used it.
Sucking on elderberry lozenges is another super easy and tasty way to get the benefits of elderberry. As you suck on the lozenges, the nutrients get slowly absorbed into your blood stream so you get the healing benefits of the iron, folate and Vitamins A & C.
Sucking on an elderberry lozenge can be especially soothing when you have a sore throat.
If you just want something you can take like regular over-the-counter medicine, you might prefer getting your elderberries in capsule form. These are just plain oil capsules filled with concentrated elderberry extract. Some may have some other natural ingredients mixed in for additional benefits.
When buying elderberry capsules, always check the list of ingredients on the box so you know exactly what you’re taking.
If you are looking to use elderberries for their skincare benefits, look for natural and organic skincare products. You might find some lotions, moisturizers, and other topical products that contain elderberry in them. These skincare products are especially formulated for sensitive skin
Before you start consuming elderberry for its many benefits, it is really important to understand the potential cautions and side effects.
Let’s start with – do not eat raw elderberries. This is even if you decide to grow your own elderberry plants in your backyard. You cannot just pluck them off the bus and eat the raw berries. They can be potentially poisonous. The raw leaves and seeds are also poisonous and can cause nausea, vomiting or diarrhea.
The right way to eat elderberry is to consume it in the form of a syrup, preserve or any other cooked concoction.
The only part of the elderberry shrub that you can eat raw is the elderflowers. .
The second caution is that not everyone should consume elderberries
While these berries are safe for most people, children under 18 years of age, women who are pregnant or nursing, people with sensitive immune systems, and anyone with chronic breathing or other health conditions should avoid consuming elderberry without first talking to their doctor first.
In fact, even if you do not fall into any of the categories mentioned, it is always a good idea to talk to your doctor before you starting taking elderberry for flu, colds or any of its other health benefits.
Tips for Buying Elderberries
Take a close look at the ingredients – The safety and effectiveness of elderberries starts with what you purchase. You want to be use a natural, organic elderberry product that doesn’t contain any preservatives or additives that are not necessary for the product itself. Common and safe ingredients used in most elderberry products are dried organic elderberries, water, honey, herbs and spices. Do not buy elderberry syrup with ingredients like high fructose corn syrup. It may be added to add some sweetness but that also increases the sugar content, which is bad for health in the long run.
Check the label for usage – Just like any other medicine you would take, you need to read the label to look at how to use it and proper dosage. This might be taking no more than 2 elderberry lozenges a day or 1 tablespoon of the syrup every few hours. Just because it is natural, that does not mean you should just use it as much as you want. You still need to be careful.
Always buy the best quality – You definitely do not want to compromise on quality when buying elderberries. This does not necessarily mean the most expensive. Check out this 1lb pack of Organic Dried Elder Berries by Starwest Botanicals. That’s a lot you get for the price and 1 pound will last you a long time.
Disclaimer: This information is not intended to serve as medical advice. Please consult your doctor before using any natural medication or if you experience any unusual symptoms. See Full Disclaimer here.