Herbs & Plants,  Nutrition

The Benefits of Elderberry

The seasons are changing, school is in full swing, people are hustling and bustling going back and forth to work.  All this hectic running around can weaken the immune system.   Even the healthiest person can fall victim to a cold or flu if the right steps aren’t taken to build up the immune system.  We’re not “technically” in the flu season yet but I know a few people who have already had the flu.   According to the CDC, influenza activity often begins to increase in October and peaks between December and February.  So it’s important to do what we can now before flu season peaks.

If you haven’t started already, right now is the time to start building up the immune system.  There are many ways to go about doing this.  Vitamin C, getting sufficient sleep and eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables are all excellent ways for helping the immune system.  Along with those things, one of the best ways I’ve found to build up my immune system has been with elderberries.

Elderberries are known to stimulate the immune system.  And many people use elderberries in syrup form to take as a daily supplement, which is what I do.  In this post about elderberries; I will discuss the properties of the berry, the wonderful benefits and the way to use this great immune booster.

What Are Elderberries?

Sambucus otherwise know as elder or elderberry are flowering plants which produce clusters of  blue-black berries.  The origins of these berry filled plants are worldwide.  There are many varieties 0f Sambucus ranging from all over America to South Asia, Northern Europe and South America.

The elderberry plant is a perennial plant and can grow up to 13 feet tall.   During the spring the plant blooms white flowers.  The flowers are similar to the flavor and scent of honeysuckles, which are often used to make teas and jellies.   When early fall comes around the plant produces ripe berries and they can be used to make syrups, extracts and jellies.

Both flowers and berries of the elder plant are used for medicinal and food usages.  But beware of the leaves, twigs, stems, roots and raw berries.  These items contain high amounts of toxic properties and can cause illness such as vomiting, stomach cramps, diarrhea and weakness.

What Makes Elderberries Beneficial

Elderberries are loaded with high dosages of antioxidants and vitamin C. There are also moderate levels of vitamin B6 and iron as well. It’s been reported that the antiviral properties of the berries are so high that it’s shown to be effective against 10 strains of the influenza virus, including the swine flu.  Ingesting an elderberry supplement can shorten the duration of flu symptoms by 3-4 days. It’s also been proven that by taking an elderberry supplement it activates the immune system and fights against inflammation.

Studies are also showing positive effects from elderberry extract being administered to cancer and AIDS patients. Basically anyone who has a compromised immune system or don’t want a compromised immune system can benefit from use of elderberries.

How To Use Elderberries

Most people use elderberries in a syrup form as a supplement.  But there are other ways, such as using the flowers and dried berries to make tea.  I tend to use both these methods.   Right now as I write I feel a cold coming on so I am currently drinking a blend of elderberry and mullein tea.  I previously talked about mullein leaf right here.  It’s easy to purchase dried elderberries.  You can find them at most health food stores or order them online from places like Mountain Rose Herbs.

However what I really like is elderberry in syrup form.  Now there are fantastic sites which will explain to you how to make your own elderberry syrup such as this one from Wellness Mama.  And when I have time I’m definitely going to try my hand at it.  But for now, I’ve found a wonderful elderberry syrup local to me here in North Carolina called Sweets Syrup so I choose to use this one.  Around this time of the year I normally take a tablespoon of elderberry syrup a day.  More if I have a sniffle or sore throat I feel coming on.

However lately I’m starting to become a little creative with the syrup.  I’ve drizzled it over my matcha latte and it was delicious.  I might try it over some waffles next. 🙂

 

References

https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/season/flu-season.htm

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sambucus

https://www.mountainroseherbs.com/products/elder-berries/profile

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11399518

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