Happy Saturday Everyone! I hope you are looking forward to a relaxing weekend. This is my first health related article of the year. I came across this article on elderberry extract and how it is the new in-vogue natural supplement for colds and flus, and given that we are at the peak of our cold and flu season I found it very interesting. I hope you find this information helpful.
Cold and flu season is upon us and you know we’ve heard from our parents and grandparents to take plenty of Vitamin C to help ward off the cold. Enter a new cold remedy supplement in the market – elderberry extract. I’ve seen quiet a few elderberry ads and have even seen elderberry extract and supplements in the pharmacy lately but really didn’t know much about it. A recent article from Martha Stewart online explains how this new fad of natural elderberry extract may actually have the super power to work in shortening a cold and reduce it’s severity.
As with any natural remedy it’s hard to prove any claims of benefits unless a scientific study is conducted to validate those claims. That’s why elderberry shows promise, because many scientific studies for years have shown proven benefits of this berry.
Study of 312 airline passengers shows how beneficial elderberry extract can be.
A 2016 study of cold-sufferers on airplane by the US National Library of Medicine National Institue of Health found that those who took an elderberry extract had a “significant reduction of cold duration and severity” when elderberry extract was taken in 300 mg capsules. This randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial of 312 economy class passengers was conducted on a flight from Australia to an overseas destination.
The study aimed to determine if elderberry extract had beneficial effects on physical especially respiratory, and mental health vs those who took a placebo pill. What they found is that the placebo group participants had a significantly longer duration of cold episode days and the average symptom score was also significantly higher. Based on these results the study concluded that elderberry extract helps reduce the cold duration and severity in air travelers.
An earlier 2004 study by the same Institute found that those who took elderberry extract as 15 mL of liquid, recovered from their colds about four days faster than those who took a placebo.
What is the science behind elderberry being so effective?
As it turns out some scientists were curious and took it a step further to understand how elderberry extract can minimize flu and cold symptoms. Scientists at the University of Sydney published in an April 2019 report sciencedaily.com found that compounds inside elderberry function as an antiviral medication, fighting to stop the cold virus from replicating and surviving inside our body. The study also showed that these compounds can directly inhibit the virus’s entry and replication in human cells, and can help strengthen a person’s immune response to the virus.
“What our study has shown is that the common elderberry has a potent direct antiviral effect against the flu virus. It inhibits the early stages of an infection by blocking key viral proteins responsible for both the viral attachment and entry into the host cells.” said Dr Golnoosh Torabian. sciencedaily.com
On a cautionary note many further studies have shown that elderberry extract does not necessarily help with cardiovascular issues and bronchitis. But when it comes to colds and the flu all the data is positive and provides plenty of evidence to suggest that elderberry actually does work in remedying a cold faster and with less severe symptoms.
As with any supplement check with your doctor before taking them. Elderberry extract doesn’t seem to have many negative side effects (Remember: Never eat raw elderberries. They’re very toxic!). But it does have dangerous interactions with some medications, especially immunosuppressant drugs. There’s a partial list of drug interactions here, but if you’re taking any regular prescriptions, check with your doctor before taking elderberry.
Those at a greater health risk, especially pregnant women and children, should probably not take elderberry. There’s no evidence that it’s unsafe, but, according to a 2014 study, there is not sufficient evidence that it’s safe, so don’t risk it.
Where can you buy elderberry extract?
Elderberry extract is available over the counter in many forms—gummies, capsules, and liquids mostly—at drugstores and supermarkets, and online. Elderberry extract is officially a dietary supplement, meaning the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not have to prove elderberry supplements are safe or that manufacturer claims are scientifically proven. So be careful and do your research before purchasing a particular brand.
For more information on elderberry extract take a look at these articles I referenced.