Elderberries: A Brief Backgrounder
People have used elderberries for their supposed health benefits. For many years, people have used elderberries to boost the immune system, fight the flu, and alleviate the symptoms of cold through its high content of antioxidants. However, further scientific research and study need to be conducted in order to confirm the aforementioned claims of elderberries.
Elderberries come from the tree of the Sambucus, the most common type of which is the Sambuca nigra. Physically, the sambuca tree as groups of elderflowers that are colored cream or white with small clumps of elderberries that colored either black or blue. For many years, European herbalists and Native American Herbalists have utilized elderberries to improve their health and to treat certain medical conditions. For these herbalists, elderberries can supposedly help and protect the body against the flu and colds and other conditions that may adversely affect the body’s respiratory system.
What Are The Health Benefits of Elderberries?
Elderberries have certain components and contents that may prove to be beneficial in enhancing the health and wellness of individuals. Listed below are some of these possible health benefits of elderberry:
1. Flu and colds
Evidence suggests that elderberries may be effective in alleviating the symptoms of both flu and colds. A study conducted in 2010 claimed that elderberries may contain significant amounts of antiviral and antioxidant properties although the authors of the study recommended further studies to confirm their claim.
Another study provided sixty (60) patients with 15 ml or milliliters of elderberry syrup four (4) times daily and found that their flu symptoms got better in just four (4) days. Another research group also conducted tests on thirty-two (32) individuals with symptoms of the flu. In it, the individuals were given 175 mg or milligrams of elderberry extract four (4) times a day for two (2) days straight. In as short as 24 hours or one (1) day, the subjects reported feeling better with fewer symptoms of the flu such as nasal congestion, muscle pains, headaches, and fever.
Another test that was conducted on patients had subjects take lozenges containing 300 milligrams (mg) of elderberry extract two (2) times a day for ten (10) straight days to check if elderberry can alleviate or prevent the cold symptoms after a flight. While elderberry extract was not able to totally prevent the occurrence of cold symptoms of the patients after their airplane travel, it significantly lessened and shortened the manifestation of the aforementioned symptoms.
2. Acne breakout
Elderberries are an excellent source of flavonoids which in turn, means increased levels of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. These can be some of the major contributing factors to elderberries’ acne-fighting properties as they can help in the protection of healthy cells from free radicals that can pose a serious threat to skin health. In fact, a credible health organization namely the American Nutrition Association (ANA) recommended the use of elderberry facial wash to aid an individual in fighting acne off through elderberry’s antiseptic properties.
3. Skin wrinkles
Wrinkles can make people look older than they should and may affect the overall confidence levels of people who may have them. Elderberries can help reduce wrinkles of the skin as it contains significant levels of Vitamin A. The American Nutrition Association (ANA) also recommended the use of elderberries to address the age spots, soothe the skin and lessen or prevent the development of skin wrinkles.
Some Nutritional Facts about Elderberries
Elderberries are full of nutrients and vitamins that can greatly contribute to an individual’s overall health and wellness. A cup of elderberries has sufficient calories (106 calories) and carbohydrates (26.68 grams) which are substantially beneficial to a healthy and balanced diet. In addition, elderberries have been shown to contain several minerals and vitamins such as
- Iron (2.32 mg)
- Calcium (55 mg)
- Folate (9 mg)
- Vitamin C
- Potassium (406 mg)
- Vitamin A (870 mg)
Elderberries are also popular for the amount of fiber it contains which amounts to a whopping 10.2 grams per serving or cup. This amount covers a large chunk of the dietary fiber need of individuals per day which for men should be at around 34 grams and 28 grams of fiber per day for women. This significant intake of fiber can promote a number of certain health benefits such as decreased levels of bad cholesterol, reduced risk in terms of developing heart or cardiovascular diseases, better management of hypertension and high blood pressure, reduced risk for developing colorectal cancer, enhanced bowel function, and prevent the occurrence of constipation.
How Can Elderberries Be Used?
Elderberries should never be eaten raw as they can be harmful and poisonous to people when improperly consumed or ingested by individuals. Elderberries come in different forms and types and can be taken as a syrup, as a lozenge, or as a capsule. These herbal alternatives are available in the market and usually advertised as an alternative treatment for the cold and flu. Some stores also have elderberry skin and body care products. Individuals can also enjoy elderberries primarily in syrup form by having its stalks removed, cooking the berries with some sugar and water, straining the berries, and boiling the remaining liquid until a syrupy consistency is reached.