Colds and the flu have plagued humanity for thousands of years. They are the most common respiratory infections nowadays and it seems that whatever we do we can’t eradicate them. The influenza virus is mutating almost every year, making its treatment difficult. However, newest studies have shown that both can be destroyed with the help of a simple natural remedy.
Have you heard about the elderberry? This bushy plant may have been cultivated since ancient Egypt. Scientists have found recipes for elderberry medications in ancient Egyptian scriptures and even the great Hippocrates praised the berries for their healing power. The use of elderberry as a medicine goes far back in history, making it one of the top antiviral herbs on the planet.
The plant was commonly used to treat colds and the flu, inflammation, pain, fatigue, constipation, allergies and even cancer. When the extract of the plant is consumed within 48 hours of the infection, the elderberry is one of the most potent remedies against colds and the flu.
During a 1995 flu outbreak in Panama, the government decided to use elderberry in order to subdue the spread of the infection and resolve it. Most of the properties of the elderberry are due to the presence of antioxidants and flavonoids. This makes the plant a natural powerhouse for our health.
Here are the main health benefits of elderberry:
Great For Treating Colds And Flu
Elderberries are ideal for your immune system – they are rich in various vitamins, minerals and antioxidants as well as anthocyanidins which can stimulate your immune system and help your body fight any infection. According to a 2016 study, elderberry supplementation can reduce the symptoms of colds better than most drugs. Taking the supplement 10 days before travelling or 4-5 days after arriving somewhere can reduce the duration of the symptoms by 2 days, which means you’ll recover faster.
And, it’s not only the simple cold and the flu that the extract can treat. Several studies have shown that it can relieve the symptoms of the H1N1 influenza virus if taken at least 48 hours after the infection. The extract managed to reduce the duration of the symptoms by an average of 4 days.
Relieves Sinus Infections
Thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties and the abundance of antioxidants, the elderberry can easily help you deal with sinus problems. A sinus infection occurs due to inflammation in the nasal passages. According to one study performed in Switzerland, Sinupret, a syrup containing elderberry flowers can treat bacterial sinusitis when used together with an antibiotic and a decongestant. The participants who used this combo managed to relieve their symptoms sooner.
Regulates Blood Sugar
Both the berries and the flowers of the plant can be used to regulate glucose levels and treat diabetes. Elderflower extract stimulates our glucose metabolism and regulates the production of insulin which in turn reduces the blood sugar levels. According to a study, the elderberry extract works by improving the glucose transport and oxidation without added insulin. In this way, it keeps your glucose levels steady and prevents diabetes.
A Powerful Natural Diuretic
These berries are a great diuretic which can help improve urination and stimulate bowel movements as well. The elderberry extract (Sambucus) has shown diuretic effects which can prevent fluid retention and bloating.
A Natural Laxative
For centuries, elderberry extract has been used to fight constipation. It’s a natural laxative which has been confirmed to work in a few studies. However, there’s need for more research before it can be concluded that the extract can indeed naturally resolve constipation.
Promotes Healthy Skin
Due to the abundance of antioxidants, bioflavonoids and vitamin A, the berries are perfect for your skin. Scientists have also managed to isolate a few compounds in the berries which can make your skin more elastic and healthier.
The flowers of the plant have been known to relieve allergy symptoms. Allergies are an overreaction of the immune system to some kind of irritant which triggers inflammation. Luckily, the extract can relieve allergies completely naturally and treat the fever-like symptoms. The plant can be used on its own or combined with other herbs and plants.
May Assist In The Prevention Of Cancer
Edible berry extracts are full of antioxidants and anthocyanins that have a wide range of therapeutic, pharmacologic and anti-carcinogenic properties. According to lab studies, elderberry extract has chemo preventive properties which can help in the prevention of cancer formation. One study showed that the American elderberry extract has anti-cancer properties, while the European variety has other medicinal uses. Although more research is definitely needed, some experts are convinced that the berry may become the base for a future cure for this deadly disease.
How To Use Elderberry
The good news about the extract is that it can be used in different ways. You can take it in the form of tea, juice, infusion, jelly, jam, syrup or wine or in the form of capsules, lozenges, spray, ointment, capsules, liquid and powder. The elderberry syrup is the most popular form of elderberry extract for upper respiratory infections. If you, however, want to make your own remedy, here’s a recipe you should follow:
- 2 cups dry elderberries
- 1 tablespoon fresh or dry ginger
- 1 teaspoon powdered cinnamon
- 1 cup honey
- 3 ½ cups water
Bring the water to a boil, then add the cinnamon, ginger and elderberry. Let the mixture boil, then simmer it until half of the liquid evaporates. Take it off the stove and mash the elderberries, then strain the mush through a cheesecloth. Collect the juice in a bowl, add the honey, mix well and transfer the syrup to a glass bottle.
If you’re not a fan of syrup, you can prepare your own elderberry tea which has a refreshing and sweet taste. Whatever you pick, consuming the extract when you’re down with the flu will definitely help relieve the symptoms.