Black Elderberry, a Superfood for Immune Health

Black Elderberry, a Superfood for Immune Health

Black Elderberry with history of use and research provides wonderful support for your immune system

The immune system is a technical complex matrix containing tissues, cells, proteins, certain organs and chemical substances that help to protect the body from outside detrimental compounds. The immune system has barriers that include antibodies and other cells that are available to attack when needed. Its critically important to keep the body healthy so the immune system is strong and on guard. Granted getting enough sleep, exercise, keeping the body hydrated, controlling how one handles stress are essential. Slowing down to smell the roses, relaxing and exercise help to reduce stress.

Also, consuming fermented foods and/or consuming a form of a probiotic, reducing simple sugar from the diet while eating dark green and other colored vegetables, healthy fats and a plant based diet are imperative to keeping your immunity strong.

Researchers have shown that micronutrients from the diet help the immune system to function properly. The organized immune system needs different nutrients from the diet and additional supplements such as vitamins C and zinc. Fruit in general is overlooked by some people possibly because they either don’t like it or may think it costs too much. They provide many nutrients including fiber and help to strengthen immune health all year long. Many people consume too many empty calories and do not have a desire to consume enough fruits and vegetables daily. It is a major nutritional problem in the United States. People may actually suffer from a form of malnutrition, because of reduced nutrient intake, which leads to health problems.

Elderberry History of Use

The elderberry fruit is considered one of the Superfoods available to support the immune system for a number of reasons.

Elderberry fruit comes from the European elder tree (Sambucus nigra, Caprifoliaceae), which is also called black elder and elderberry. It is a deciduous tree that grows very tall and is native to parts of Asia, Europe, northern Africa. The tree has small, creamy-white flowers with drooping purple black or blue black colored berries. Elderberry has been used by European herbalists going back as early as the times of Hippocrates, Dioscorides. It was also used by Gaius Plinius Secundus, called Pliny the Elder, who was a Roman author and naturalist from the early Roman Empire.

Different parts of the elderberry plant (Sambucus spp.) have been used traditionally for centuries by different cultures and in folk medicine. The parts have been used as a food and also as remedies for health purposes. The flowers and the dried or cooked fruit have been used for respiratory support. In fact, Native American Indians have used the elderberry flowers to make medicinal tea. These berries have been used for making wine, preserves and winter cordials. The flavor and color have been included in wines.

In 2008, Europe published monographs that were written on elder flower for the purpose of herbal tea, liquid extracts or tinctures. This was done for the registration and marketing of traditional herbal medicinal products that contained elderberry positioned to support the respiratory tract. Elderberry has also been used in cosmetic products and in Europe, they list it “Sambucus Nigra Fruit Extract” as an astringent for the skin and for skin conditioning functions. Today, elderberry is used in natural health products, which contain juice, syrups and extracts.

The fruit has been used traditionally in Herbal Medicine for the throat, sinuses, nasal passages and for mucus membranes. It has also been used for the skin and kidneys.

There have been a number of clinical studies that have demonstrated that it provides immune support for respiratory and other conditions.

Elderberry’s Health Benefits:

Elderberries are a great fruit, loaded with nutrients and are low in calories and fat.

They provide a good source of Vitamin C and contain nutritious anthocyanins which provide the amazing pigment of dark black, purple or blue that provide antioxidants. They also have phenolic acids and the flavanols, quercetin, isorhamnetin and kaempferol. In addition, the flowers have a larger amount of flavanols than most other berry plants which have powerful antioxidants to ward against oxidative stress to tissues. Elderberries are also rich in dietary fiber. These bioactives help to provide good immune system support.

Elderberry juice has been used in human research showing its antioxidant properties because of its anthocyanidins.

Black elderberries have research to show that they are supportive agents for the respiratory system and sinuses. There is much to learn about their bioactives.

Why are these anthocyanins important?

Anthocyanins do fight against free radicals, which are a leading cause of increased internal aging and health conditions. Anthocyanins also have other roles in protecting cells, tissues and vital organs. These anthocyanins are key for the cardiovascular system including the arteries, but also support the nervous system, mental function and for blood sugar levels. The elderberry fruit has demonstrated benefits in laboratory settings against bacteria.

Elderberry Research

One human study was performed with individuals traveling. In general, intercontinental air travel can be extremely stressful and hard on the respiratory system. Individuals have been shown to feel fatigued, may have reduced immunity and increased stress and emotions during long-distance trips. An elderberry extract was used in a randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled clinical study with 312 airline passengers that traveled from Australia to another location. The study showed that those taking the elderberry extract had significant positive effects on the upper respiratory tract.

Other nutrients to support the immune system:

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a great companion to Elderberry. It is a water soluble vitamin with antioxidant properties to help protect the body from damaging free radicals. The immune system cells need vitamin C for protection. It is essential to make collagen, which is used for joints to bring about healing and for the skin.

Zinc:

In the body, zinc is an important mineral. It is also a nice associate with elderberry to support the immune system It is needed for cell growth and DNA repair. It is found in meat and nuts, chickpeas and beans, as well as supplements.

If you have a health condition and or take medication, it’s always best to check with your healthcare provider prior to taking supplements.

 

References

Krawitz C, et al. BMC Compl Altern Med. 2011;11(16).
Netzela M, Strass G, Herbst et al. Food Res Intern. 2005;38(8–9):905-910.
Wieland LS, et al. BMC Complement Med Ther. 2021;21(1):112.