Black Elderberry for Heart Health and as Immuno-stimulant
This is an absolutely phenomenal berry. It has been used for centuries all across Europe for many ailments. Its primary use was for respiratory track infections and for “loosening” dry cough to be able to cough up the phlegm. As such it was used as an expectorant. It is not clear what the active compounds in Elderberry are but one thing is for sure, whatever they are they are strong immune-stimulants.
Immuno-stimulants are simply compounds that stimulate the immune system. Numerous very well designed human studies have shown that Elderberry reduces the symptoms of viral flu by about 60% compared to placebo. That’s from an average of 6 days of flu to merely 2 days. This effect has been shown to be effective for both type A and type B flu. The other important point about this fruit is that it is packed with anti-oxidants. This is not one bit surprising as the fruits resemble a cluster of grapes on a tree and have a dark purple color when ripe.
I say this because barriers in general have a high content of anti-oxidants and the general rule (with a few exceptions) is that the darker red or purple they are the more their anti-oxidant content. Such anti-oxidants are very beneficial to the cardiovascular system and the heart as they protect the small arteries and capillaries from oxidative damage which may eventually lead to arterial plaque formation and blockage of blood flow. They are not only beneficial for the heart and the circulatory system but also prevent the ageing of skin, wrinkle formation as well as slow down the aging process in general. We can say that anti-oxidants are beneficial to every single organ system by helping in their proper functioning and preventing oxidative damage.
But let’s go back to the Elderberries immune-stimulating property. Although research is still not completely conclusive, the fact that Elderberries stimulate the immune system can be applicable to many other conditions where the immune system is weak. Once such obvious condition is the un-developed immune system of all kids. Kids in general do not have such developed immune system as adults. This is why they usually get sick more often and why they need some many vaccinations. Their immune system simply has not yet been exposed to many pathogens and thus they did not yet form the antibodies and the “memory” immune cells to protect them from future infections. Black Elderberry extract (in the form of Sambucol for example) is an excellent solution to strengthen the immune system of kids so that they don’t get sick as much. This is obviously very important in the winter months.
Another very important application of Sambucol is in immunodeficiency states. Such states may be genetic and inborn, being present at birth or they may be acquired like HIV or cancer, for example. In all these situations Elderberry extract may be very help full in stimulation the immune system and helping in the protection from opportunistic infections.
Other conditions where this amazing fruit may be very help full are constipation (due to the fact that the extract is very viscous and mucus like), nerve pain (for unknown reasons), chronic fatigue syndrome and hay fever (again because of its immune-stimulating action).
One statement of caution. Some people have medical conditions where the immune system is over-active. Such conditions are called auto-immune conditions. In such cases it is undesirable to stimulate the immune system as such stimulation may exacerbate the illness. Some examples are systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and sjorgens syndrome. Keep in mind that there are many others. The other point is that the standard treatment in many of these conditions are medications that inhibit the immune system. Taking Elderberry extract in such situations is undesirable as the fruit extract will counteract the desirable effect of these medications.