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Every now and then, trends pop up in healthcare. We all are on the constant search of new remedies to help us feel better when we’re sick. It’s likely the trend you’ve been hearing most about lately is elderberry. But, what is it?
Elderberry is a tiny berry that is rich in polyphenols, which are antioxidants that provide medicinal and therapeutic benefits. Elderberries – dried, cooked, in extracts or syrups, or in juice – have been used to help treat influenza viruses, colds, and some wounds.
No matter how you choose to consume elderberry, just make sure you never eat them raw, as unripe elderberries are toxic. Here are some more reasons to consider trying elderberry.
- They help increase your antioxidant level. The flavonol content in elderberries is higher than that in blueberries, goji berries, blackberries, and cranberries. This makes elderberries a wonderful source of free radical damage to fighting nutrients. A study conducted on the power of elderberries concluded that the test subjects who consumed 400 milliliters of elderberry juice saw a rise in their total phenolic level as well as plasma antioxidant capacity one hour after consuming the juice.
- They help fight off colds and the flu. Elderberries can help relieve symptoms such as itchy throat, runny nose, and fatigue, as well as shorten the number of days that you are sick.
- They can act as an antiviral. Elderberry extracts can inhibit viruses from growing and multiplying, as well as prevent the adhesion of viruses to host cell receptors. Currently, there are studies being conducted to determine if elderberries can go up against the H1N1 virus.
- They can help heal wounds. Elderberries contain vitamin C and antioxidants, both of which are effective in tissue healing. Topic treatments containing elderberry can help with collagen synthesis in the skin. Elderberries can also inhibit pro-inflammatory activities, preventing the wound from becoming inflamed and easing inflammation.
- They can help improve your immune system. Elderberry extracts can increase the activity of Lactobacillus acidophilus (bacteria that boosts immune response). Another study concluded that concentrated elderberry juice can help enhance the production of cytokines, which are cell signaling proteins that help with the immune response.
- They can help regulate your blood sugar level. Elderberries and their flowers have been used in traditional folk remedies for blood sugar and diabetes management. In one study, elderberry extract showed insulin-like properties, helping with glucose oxidation, glycogenesis, and glucose transport. By removing excess blood sugar from the bloodstream, elderberries can help keep blood sugar levels steady.
- They can act as a natural diuretic. Elderberries can help with fluid retention, as well as lower blood pressure by promoting production and excretion of urine from the body.
- They can help with bowel movements. Elderberries can act as a laxative; however, don’t consume for this reason if you are already taking laxatives or a diuretic as this may cause an interaction.
- They may help fight cancer. Elderberries are rich in antioxidants that may help inhibit carcinogenesis. Studies are still being done, but the results so far have been positive. As of right now, elderberries have been found to have chemoprotective effects, showing potential in inhibiting, delaying, and possibly preventing cancer.