Boost Your Immune System with Elderberry

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Elderberry Sambucus nigra

Elderberry, typically European or black elder (Sambucus nigra) has been receiving widespread publicity for its role in reducing flu symptoms, soothing sore throats and coughs as well as boosting the immune system. Numerous scientific studies on the effectiveness of elderberry have been conducted.

Following is an overview of studies on elderberry from

  • 2009 – (Catchpole) During an in-vitro study carried out in London by Retroscreen Virology in October 2009, black elderberry extract was found to be at least 68.37% effective against the H1N1 strain otherwise known as Swine Flu Pandemic strain.
  • Black Elderberry has a more potent antiviral effect than Echinacea
  • Black elderberry extract has been found to be effective against the H5N1 strain of Avian Flu  (Zakay-Rones et al 1995)
  • Black elderberry extract contains a unique compound called Antivirin® that can help protect healthy cells and inactivate  infectious viruses
  • When given to patients, scientists have found the black elderberry extract, has the ability to ward off flu infections quickly  (Zakay-Rones 2004)
  • Black Elderberries are rich in anthocyanins which are a type of flavonoid –  anthocyanins are antioxidants that may protect cells from free radicals and support your body’s immune system.
  • Black Elderberries have almost 5 times as many anthocyanins as Blueberries and twice the overall antioxidant capability of cranberries

Making your own elderberry syrup is an easy and inexpensive way to create your own cough remedy. One thing to keep in mind when making herbal medicines is to use the best quality herbs possible. The quality of your medicine will be determined by what goes into the making of it. Mountain Rose Herbs offers the highest quality organic, fair-trade elderberries.

Elderberry Syrup

½ cup dried whole  elderberries
3 cups of filtered water
1 cup of honey (local is best)

Place the berries in a saucepan with the water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Crush the berries. Strain liquid into a bowl. Stir in honey. Bottle and refrigerate. Will keep several months.

For coughs, colds and flu take 1 teaspoon every 2-3 hours. This also makes a delicious syrup for pancakes, ice cream or mixed into sparkling water for a refreshing and healthy drink.

Fresh elderberries are commonly made into jellies, pies and wine.

elder flowers - Sambucus nigraThe elder plant has been used throughout history for it’s medicinal value and as such, has many folkloric uses.  In the Middle Ages it was considered a Holy Tree, capable of restoring good health, keeping good health and as an aid to longevity. All parts of the elder are useful. American Elder, Sambucus canadensis, is another common species to be used medicinally.

A hot infusion of dried elder flowers will induce sweating and drive out a fever. A cold infusion of the dried flowers is useful for sore and inflamed eyes as a compress.

Elder flowers and berries are gentler that the other parts and are safe to use in larger doses internally. In addition to the studies listed above, elder flowers and berries act as a blood purifier so they work on the entire body.

The leaves, flowers, bark and twigs can be made into a poultice to relieve soreness, inflammations, swollen glands, bruises and joint stiffness.

A salve or ointment  made from the elder is useful for burns and scalds.

All parts of the plant can be used externally for the complexion; removing spots, soothing irritation, removing freckles and preserving and softening of the skin if used faithfully both internally and externally.

The inner green bark is cathartic, purges the digestive system, so should be taken in small doses.

The leaves are typically used externally because of their strong purgative properties. They can be made into an herbal oil which can be used on the skin or the oil can be used to make a healing salve.

Elder berries are high in iron and thus good for treating anemia.

Additional historical information is available at the online version of A Modern Herbal by Mrs. M. Grieve. This site also includes recipes for elderberry wine.

The printed version is available here: A Modern Herbal (Volume 1, A-H): The Medicinal, Culinary, Cosmetic and Economic Properties, Cultivation and Folk-Lore of Herbs, Grasses, Fungi, Shrubs & Trees with Their Modern Scientific Uses. This is a fun 2 -book series if you are interested in herbal history and folklore.


Black Elderberry Immune Formula Liquid, 4 oz, Sambucol – $11.46

Retail Price: $14.99
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