March 08, 2022 9 min read
Since the past, the human population has used plants, fruits, and plant extracts as medication for different illnesses. Both modern and traditional healers use plants and plant extracts to remedy illnesses. In the United States and other countries, Black Elderberries or elder berries are commonly used in treatment of clinical symptoms of common cold and flu, in addition to offering multiple nutritional and health benefits.
Traditionally, the leaves and flowers of the elderberry tree were used to relieve swelling, pain, inflammation, induce sweating, and stimulate urine production. On the other hand, dried berries were used for influenza, headaches, heart pain, nerve pain, dental pain, sciatica, and infections (Charlebois, 2007).
Apart from the medicinal use of elderberries, they are used as excellent culinary additives. For instance, if elderberries are cooked, they can make chutneys, juice, elderberry wine, pies, and jams. Some people boil elderberry flowers with sugar to give the tea a nice taste and aroma. Elderberries are also eaten in salads.
Elderberries are fruits of the Sambucustree. The Sambucus tree is a flowering plant that belongs to the Adoxaceae family. The most common variety of elderberry is Sambucus nigra. The species is also known as the Black elder or European elderberry. The tree grows in most parts of the world though it originated in Europe.
Sambucus nigracan grow up to 9 meters (30 feet). The tree has clusters of cream or white-colored elderflowers. The elderberries have a black or blue-black color when ripe, and they grow in bunches. The berries have a tart taste, and they have to be cooked to remove the bitterness.
There are other varieties of elderberries such as; the dwarf elder, danewort, antelope brush, blue elderberry, American elder, and red-fruited elder.
Elderberries are most commonly used to fight colds and flu. The use of elderberry extracts to fight cold and flu can be used as a home remedy or commercially. Commercial elderberries come in the form of liquids, tablets, gummies, and capsules.
Several studies show that people who take elderberry extracts take a shorter time to recover than people who do not take elderberries.
In one study, 60 people who had influenza were divided into the experiment and control group. The experiment group was given 15ml of elderberry syrup four times a day, and they showed symptoms of improvement within two to four days. However, the control group that did not take the elderberry syrup took around seven days to improve (Tiralongo et al,2016).
In another study, a group of 64 people was given 175-mg elderberry extract tablets for two days. In 24 hours, they showed improvement in flu symptoms such as headache, fever, nasal congestion, and muscle aches.
The Griffith University School of Pharmacy carried out a study in 2016, which revealed that taking supplements with elderberry reduces the duration and symptoms of cold during an air trip. The researchers observed that travelers who took elderberries 10 days before travel and 5 days after travel experienced a shorter duration of cold and mild symptoms than travelers who did not take elderberries (Tiralongo, et al,2016).
The elderberry flowers are 'anti-catarrhal' herbs, implying that they are effective for congestion and runny noses. Anti-catarrhal herbs help in removing mucous, inhibit excessive mucous from forming and reduce body inflammation.
Urinary Tract Infections and cystitis are prevalent in women, though men are not also spared. They are characterized by a very urgent need to urinate accompanied by a burning sensation.
People who suffer from these infections experience low self-esteem, and in most cases, they are forced to stay home. The good news is that elderberry extract can help in eliminating the bladder infections.
Elderberry acts as a diuretic. It makes kidneys to flush out toxins frequently, and this increases urination. Constant urination in turn helps to eliminate cystitis causing bacteria. By eliminating the bacteria, elderberry reduces the chances of the infection spreading to the kidney or bladder. Since elderberry has anti-inflammatory properties, it may reduce pain and the burning sensation that comes during urination (Sharmal et al,2008).
Having pimples on your face will automatically lower your self-esteem. People always strive to have a smooth and appealing face that boosts their self-esteem and makes them appealing. However, it is not always simple to get rid of the ugly pimples or acne on the face. The news to put a smile on the face is that elderberries can fight acnes and achieve a smooth face.
Elderberry fruits have high flavonoid levels; they have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties (Sidor & Gramza, 2014). Flavonoids shield healthy cells from harmful radicals that cause skin problems. The use of an elderberry face wash fights acne since it acts as an antiseptic.
The most common respiratory system allergy reaction in human beings is sneezing or having a runny nose. Elderberry can be a good natural remedy for allergic reactions. It has anti-inflammatory and immuno-stimulating properties that fight allergy symptoms.
Itchy and watery eyes, sneezing, runny or stuffy nose, and the sinuses' inflammation can be remedied by taking elderberries.
Elderberry extracts are recommended for firming up the upper respiratory tract and tackling hay fever (Zakay et al,2004).
Elderberry flowers have anti-catarrhal action, which assists in clearing runny noses and congestion that results from allergies.
People often experience difficulties in digesting food. Digestion difficulties might result in stomach upsets and other health problems. Nevertheless, elderberries can be used to ease digestion.
Elderberries have high fiber content, which reduces excess gas, eliminates constipation, and improves the gastrointestinal system's health.
Due to the high fiber content, elderberries increase the efficiency of nutrients uptake in the gut, and as a result, one can get maximum nutrients from the food they eat.
Elderberries can lower the risk of heart diseases. Elderberry juice reduces fat levels in the blood and also lowers cholesterol. Since elderberries have high amounts of flavonoids like anthocyanins, they may lower the risk of heart disease.
A study carried out on mice with high levels of cholesterol revealed that a dose of black elderberry reduced cholesterol in the aorta and the liver (Pathak, 2020).
Another study was carried out where rats were fed with foods rich in polyphenols, an elderberry extract. The mice were observed to have reductions in blood pressure, and they were less likely to suffer from organ damage due to high blood pressure (Pathak, 2020).
Elderberries lowers the level of uric acid found in the blood. High levels of uric acid increase blood pressure, which in turn affects heart health.
Most research has been carried out on mice; therefore, further research needs to be carried out on the benefits of elderberries on human beings' hearts.
The deep purple coloring of elderberries is due to anthocyanins (Silva & Nunes, 2016). Anthocyanins are powerful antioxidants that strengthen the immune system.
According to Dr. Rechkemmer's research, anthocyanins in elderberries increase the production of cytokines or proteins that serve as messengers in the immune system (Silva & Nunes, 2016). Cytokines improve the immune system of the body.
Cytokines work just as hormones in fighting diseases in the body.
Elderberry extracts act both as anti-inflammatory and inflammatory agents depending on the immediate need by the immune cells.
Elderberries are believed to deactivate viruses since they have antiviral agents.
Viruses cannot multiply on their own; hence they require a healthy cell to host them. They have haemagglutinin spikes to help them penetrate the cell wall. The spikes are coated with enzymes, which assist them in breaking the cell walls.
Elderberries have bioflavonoids, which block the enzyme's action, and in the process, deactivate the viruses (UPMC, 2020). If one uses elderberries, they can successfully lower the chances of viral infections since they stop the virus from replicating.
Elderberry flowers boost immunity by killing common pathogens.
At times, when normal metabolism takes place, reactive molecules are released, and they pile up in the body. The accumulation of reactive molecules cause oxidative stress and eventually result in diseases like cancer and type 2 diabetes.
Antioxidants such as phenolic acids, flavonoids, and some vitamins can eliminate the reactive molecules (Sidor & Gramza, 2014). Since elderberries are rich in antioxidants, they can be vital in the prevention of chronic disease.
The leaves, fruits, and flowers of the elderberry plant have a high oxidant power compared to vitamin E.
A research on the oxidizing nature of elderberries revealed that people who drank elderberry extracts improved their oxidant status an hour after 400ml elderberry juice consumption.
Processed elderberry products have lower levels of antioxidants compared to raw products such as fruits, leaves, and flowers.
Elderberries have a compound called anthraquinone, which has a laxative effect. Anthraquinone prevents the absorption of water into the intestines. It also stimulates peristalsis, increases intestinal pressure, and induces sanction of the bowel.
Little literature exists on the research of the use of elderberries to ease constipation. However, it has been determined that it is safe to use elderberry for five days.
People use elderberries to ease dental pain, bruises, cuts, and burns. There are claims that elderberry syrup can ease neuropathic pain and sciatica.
Elderberries have anthocyanins that prevent the immune cells from producing nitric oxide. Nitric oxide triggers inflammation in case there is a disease or an injury (Sharmal et al,2008). If the triggering is stopped, swelling and pain are relieved.
Researchers from most parts of the world use elderberries to prevent cancer. Elderberries have quercetin that stimulates the immune system in preparation to fight cancer cells.
Studies also reveal that elderberries can assist in preventing and fighting prostate cancer. Elderberries disrupt hedgehog, a biochemical process that is linked to cancer (Pathak, 2020).
Elderberries are rich in calcium, potassium, and iron. These minerals strengthen bones and improve bone mineral density. People who consume elderberries may have a lower risk of osteoporosis.
Anthocyanins in elderberries can help in preventing bone loss in some circumstances.
Elderberries are rich in vitamins B6 and A. These vitamins help in preventing vision ailments such as macular degeneration and glaucoma (Charlebois, 2007).
Due to the antioxidant nature of elderberries, they can prolong an individual's visual health.
Elderberries have high amounts of quercetin, which are important flavonoids that improve the brain's health (Pathak, 2020). The flavonoids reduce inflammation of the cells. Elderberries activates cell mitochondria that improve cell health.
Black elderberries may help in checking cognitive impairment and mental conditions such as Alzheimer's.
Elderberries have free-radical fighting and anti-aging properties, which keep the skin radiant for long durations. They are also a detoxifier that prevents upsetting skin conditions such as boils, scars, and breakouts.
Elderberries contain anthocyanins that boost the skin's health and also shields the skin from damage (Silva & Nunes, 2016).
Distilled water from elderberry flowers lightens the freckles and restores skin health.
Elderberry fruit extract reduces bruising and inflammation, in addition to battling the herpes virus.
Elderberry extracts can be applied on hair to improve problematic hairlines, encourage hair growth, remedy split ends and scalp conditions.
Elderberries have high fiber content, just as most fruits. Fiber aids in weight loss since it improves satiety.
In research carried out by German scholars, it was determined that people who took elderberry juice fortified with elderberry extracts and elderberry flowers recorded remarkable weight regulation progress (Pathak, 2020).
Scanty research exists on the rightful dosage of elderberries required to lower sugar levels in the blood. Therefore, people with diabetic conditions are advised to consult a doctor before starting to take elderberry extracts.
Elderberries open up blood vessels and help muscles to relax when one is exercising. Athletes and sports personalities who take elderberry supplements may have an easy time practicing than their counterparts who do not take the extracts.
Elderberries can also be used to enhance exercise performance for people who practice at home.
Elderberries have high levels of antioxidants. With time, antioxidants from elderberry extracts increase buoyancy in capillaries and blood vessels (Sidor & Gramza, 2014). Blood moves throughout the body with ease.
When one has a fever-related illness, their blood pressure shoots upwards. Elderberry extracts come in handy during such situations since they help in stabilizing the blood pressure.
Black elderberries or Sambucus nigrahave been determined to have multiple health benefits to the human population. Elderberry trees grow naturally in the wilderness, and thus they are not hard to obtain. Raw elderberry syrup is recommended for optimum utilization by the body. One should take the appropriate or recommended dosage of elderberry extracts since an overdose can be harmful to health. It is advisable to consult a doctor before including nutrient supplements in a diet.
Elderberries have amazing health benefits.
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