The Elderberry Health Benefits
“We were introduced to the health benefits of elderberry some three yearsago by our local pharmacist in WA, who insisted that all his staff use it as a preventive, given their exposure. Our whole extended family now uses it at the first sign of, or any exposure to, colds or flu and we use 6 bottles on average, per year.” Paul S, Western Australia
What The Science Really Says
Found throughout the warmer climates of North America and Europe, the elderberry has been used as herbal remedy for centuries and probably even longer. Some 400 years ago it was part of The Pharmacopoeia for The London College of Physicians.
Even in the more modern era it was touted for treating the common cold, as seen in volume 48 of The National Druggist pictured here.
Using elderberry for colds and flu has been clinically evaluated, though not in the form of a tea. Rather it has been with Sambucol and Original Sambucus, which are two brands of the concentrated berry extract, sold as dietary supplements.
Does elderberry tea help flu? Neither the tea, nor the concentrates like Sambucol, have sufficient clinical evidence to prove they work. What scientists have found is that compounds in the fruit appear to boost cytokines.
Think of cytokines as messengers for the immune system. When activated, they tell cells to perform an action.
Effect on production of TNF-alpha cytokines. LPS = known activators, E.Ex = elderberry extract, B.E. = Sambucol original syrup, Kids = Sambucol for Kids, A.D. = Sambucol Active Defense/Immune System Formula
In a study with 12 people, it was found that standardized extracts increased cytokine production by 2-45 times. In contrast, Echinacea was not found to affect cytokine levels.
Now to be clear, that was just one tiny study. Even though higher cytokine production would be expected to increase immunity, it remains theoretical.
Health Benefits Of Elderberry Tea: 9 Reasons To Savor A Cuppa
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Mudge, Elizabeth, Wendy L. Applequist, Jamie Finley, Patience Lister, Andrew K. Townesmith, Karen M. Walker, and Paula N. Brown. Variation of select flavonols and chlorogenic acid content of elderberry collected throughout the Eastern United States. Journal of Food Composition and Analysis 47
Tart and tangy, elderberries are a treat in pies, crumbles, jams, and liqueurs. But if you are an avid tea drinker, elderberries spell good news for you too! The elderberry plant or Sambucus nigra is a potent remedy in the traditional medicine trove and has been used over the ages. While many species of elderberry can be found across North America and Europe, those with black or blue berries are thought to have medicinal value as against those with red berries.Elderberry. The University of Michigan. A cup of elderberry tea made with the dried berries or flowers is both easy to prepare and packs a punch health-wise. Heres what it has lined up for you.
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Helps Manage Your Blood Sugar Levels
Unmanaged diabetes can lead to serious conditions such as nerve damage, heart disease, kidney disease, and eye problems. If you have been on the lookout for alternative complementary remedies for controlling diabetes, elderberry tea is worth a shot.
Normally, the hormone insulin helps move glucose from your bloodstream into your cells where it is converted into energy. But in people with insulin resistance, liver, fat, and muscle cells dont respond as they should to insulin and therefore are unable to absorb glucose easily from the blood. This can eventually lead to type 2 diabetes.Insulin Resistance. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Animal studies have found that elderberry extracts can not only lower fasting blood glucose but also fight insulin resistance. A flavonol known as quercetin 3-rutinoside present in elderberries may at least be partly responsible for this beneficial effect.Salvador, Ângelo C., Ewelina Król, Virgínia C. Lemos, Sónia AO Santos, Fernanda PMS Bento, Carina P. Costa, Adelaide Almeida et al. Effect of elderberry extract supplementation in STZ-induced diabetic rats fed with a high-fat diet. International journal of molecular sciences 18, no. 1 : 13.
What Is Goldenseal Good For
The earliest documented use of the goldenseal plant is thought to be by the Iroquois and Cherokee tribes to treat stomach ailments, canker sores, and cancer. This flowering plant is native to the region east of the Mississippi River.
The palm-shaped leaves are not recommended for consumption, and the root is used for all medicinal purposes. It has alkaloids of berberine, hydrastine, and canadine with powerful astringent effects. While it is used for the treatment of skin conditions, digestive issues, infections, and pneumonia, it is also used with other herbs. The most beneficial combination is with echinacea, as the two plants complement and stimulate chemical components in each other.
Lets learn what goldenseal is good for on its own.
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Benefits Heart Health Of Elderberry
In general, all fruits and vegetables are known to be beneficial for heart health, but high fiber levels in the body, too much bad cholesterol in the body reduces and the body needs to make room for HDL cholesterol.
This can significantly reduce the risk of developing coronary artery disease due to atherosclerosis.
The high potassium level in the elder protects the heart by relaxing the tension of blood vessels and arteries. Potassium can significantly reduce blood pressure and keep your heart healthy! Because of all these effects, the elderberry has a very important place for heart health.
How To Use Elderberry Or Elderflower To Support Health And Wellness
There are potentially dozens of different ways to take elderberry or elderflower. However, not all of them are safe without the guidance of a trustworthy herbalist, and especially not if youre inexperienced.
Evidence suggests the risk of health problems from consuming elderberries is very low as long as you boil or cook the berries thoroughly before consuming. All of the methods below are derived from peer-reviewed studies that did not report any significant adverse effects:
- General wellness: 3-5 grams of elderflowers steeped in a cup of boiling water for 10-15 minutes, taken by mouth three times daily.
- Heart health: two capsules of 500 mg extract each taken twice daily morning and night for 12 weeks.
- Healthy cholesterol levels: 400 mg of spray-dried capsules containing 10% anthocyanins three times per day for two weeks.
- Respiratory support: 15 ml of elderberry syrup, four times daily for five days.
Most commercial elderberry or elderflower supplements or extracts come with usage instructions, in which case its best to follow the manufacturers guidance, because the dosage and specific compounds found in different brands may vary.
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Is Elderberry Tea Safe During Pregnancy
This too is an unknown. Even though there is not evidence to suggest its dangerous, the same can be said about its safety.
Although not specific to the tea, UCSF conducted a survey among pregnant women who were using dietary supplements. Out of 150 surveys completed, 20 said they were using supplements and among them, one woman reported gastrointestinal discomfort from using an unnamed elderberry supplement. On a related note, with Echinacea, a taste disturbance was noted.
Even if the mothers are safe, its unknown if the baby inside is. As with almost all dietary supplements there isnt enough data to know for sure what effect these things have, whether positive, negative, or neutral.
Whether youre pregnant or not, be extremely careful with premade teas. Many have a laundry list of different herbs and spices which arent listed on the front of the box. If you dont read the ingredients label, you wont really know whats inside. This brand in the United Kingdom, Pukka, is a good example of that.
Gives You A Shot Of Protective Antioxidants
Elderberry fruits and flowers are a rich source of antioxidants like anthocyanins, flavonols, phenolic acids, and proanthocyanidins and can increase your bodys antioxidant capacity thanks to these polyphenols.Sidor, Andrzej, and Anna Gramza-Michaowska. Advanced research on the antioxidant and health benefit of elderberry in fooda review. Journal of functional foods 18 : 941-958. And why is this important? Antioxidants counter free radicals that damage your DNA and cells and contribute to aging as well as many diseases like cancer, heart disease, Alzheimers disease, vision loss etc. All of us grapple with them on a daily basis not only does your body produce free radicals during the process of converting food to energy, these damaging chemicals are also a reality when we eat refined and processed foods in excess, smoke and drink, expose ourselves to environmental pollutants, grapple with stress etc. Besides a balanced lifestyle, a healthy dose of antioxidants via diet can work well to fend off free radicals. So enjoy the strong dose of antioxidants that your elderberry tea provides.Antioxidants: Beyond the Hype. Harvard T.H Chan School of Public Health. Netzel, M., G. Strass, M. Herbst, H. Dietrich, R. Bitsch, I. Bitsch, and T. Frank. The excretion and biological antioxidant activity of elderberry antioxidants in healthy humans. Food Research International 38, no. 8-9 : 905-910.
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What Does Elderflower Tea Taste Like
If youve never made a tea with fresh flowers, you might be wondering, what does elderflower tea taste like? Thats actually a more complicated question than you might imagine.
If you forage fresh elderflowers in North America, youll likely have a very different tasting tea than if you buy dried elderflowers imported from Europe. Elderberry flower tea made from fresh flowers will taste different than tea made from dried ones, and the type of elderberry grown in Europe has a distinct lychee flavor that American elderberry does not.
Id describe the flavor of fresh elderflower tea made from Sambucus canadensis blossoms as lightly floral, perhaps a little grassy. Elderflower tea made from dried flowers has what Id describe as a toastier or earthier note, far less bright than tea made with fresh elder blossoms.
Healthy Digestion Weight Loss And Feeling Full
Blueberries and elderberries help prevent constipation and maintain regularity for a healthful digestive tract because of their fiber content.
Dietary fiber is also commonly recognized as an important factor in weight loss and weight management by functioning as a bulking agent in the digestive system. High fiber foods increase satiety, or the feeling of being full, and reduce appetite.
Feeling fuller for longer can reduce a persons overall calorie intake.
In a USDA Human Nutrition Research Center laboratory, neuroscientists discovered that feeding blueberries to laboratory rats slowed age-related loss in their mental capacity, a finding that has important implications for humans. In one study, Jim Joseph, director of the neuroscience laboratory in the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center , fed blueberry extraction the equivalent of a human eating one cup of blueberries a day to mice and then ran them through a series of motor skills tests. He found that the blueberry-fed mice performed better than their control group counterparts in motor behavioral learning and memory, and he noticed an increase in exploratory behavior. When he examined their brains, he found a marked decrease in oxidative stress in two regions of the brain and better retention of signal-transmitting neurons compared with the control mice.
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Elderberry May Support Cardiovascular And Metabolic Health
Theres strong scientific evidence that a diet rich in flavonoids like those in elderberries helps support heart health and a healthy cardiovascular system .
One human study reported that taking an infusion made from ripe elderberries for 30 days helped support healthy levels of cholesterol and triglycerides .
Some animal evidence also suggests that elderberry could help support healthy blood pressure, healthy cholesterol levels, and cellular health within the cardiovascular system .
Lastly, elderberry may help support healthy blood sugar levels and a healthy metabolism, which in turn also contribute to better cardiovascular health .
Best For Cardiovascular Health
If you are interested in keeping your heart beating with all the strength then pour a cup of elderberry tea and let it infuse you with all the finery of cool cardiovascular health. A study conducted on heart health and elderberry juice found that the tart liquid helped to reduce fat in blood and cut down on cholesterol both of which can be big contributing factors when it comes to heart disease risk.
But the research doesnt stop there. Further cementing elderberry and its positive relationship to heart health, another study on rats and polyphenols extracted from elderberry came back showing that there was a reduction in high blood pressure levels , and that alongside this there was a reduced risk when it came to organ damage. All this adds up to truly good news for your hart, simply by sipping a cup of elderberry tea.
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More Therapeutic Tea Recipes
Dandelion Root Tea This rich, creamy tea is so delicious that I always make a double batch one cup for me, and one to replace that cup when my littles steal away its deliciousness. Its helpful for, balancing hormones, detox, and digestion, plus it has anti-inflammatory properties and minerals, too.
Lemon Ginger Tea This immune support tea is made with three essential ingredients, plus 1-5 optional additions based on what you have on hand.
Moon Milk Theres something that just feels so beautiful and therapeutic even enchanting about whipping up a nighttime cup of moon milk with sleep supporting herbs.
In the article above I dive into its Ayurvedic origins and benefits, plus how to make it in four flavors:
- Golden Milk With Turmeric
Cautions Of Consuming Elderberry
Elderberry is very safe to be consumed in the form of tea or any other processed food or drink. Even though it has so many useful nutritional contents, you can not consume it directly without process it first because it is dangerous. Consuming directly will make it poisonous and can damage your body.
Make sure you consume the berry in the right way so you will get a healthy body just like when you consume and get the health benefits of eating an orange every day.
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Situations Where Elderberry May Be Better Suited Than Echinacea
Elderberry doesnt work well for bacterial infections but seems fairly effective against viral infections.
On the other hand, echinacea has strong antimicrobial properties and works against both bacteria and viruses.
Since respiratory symptoms can be caused by either type of pathogen, echinacea is usually the first go to for onset of respiratory symptoms, especially when you dont know their origins.
Elderberry, however, is better suited for children thanks to its pleasant taste in the form of elderberry syrup and fun elderberry gummies.
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Relief For Colds And Flu
Drinking elderberry tea can help soothe cold and flu symptoms, including fever, headache, fatigue, sore throat and coughing, according to MedLine Plus, the online health information resource maintained by the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health. Make tea with four tablespoons of elderberry extract, and drink it every day for three days for maximum benefits. Though preliminary research shows good evidence exists for elderberry tea as a potential treatment for cold and flu symptoms, MedLine Plus says more research is needed to confirm those benefits.
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Elderberry Recipes For Kids
My kids always like to add more honey or sugar to the tea. You can also add other flavors such as lemon or orange juice. If you make extra elderberry tea, you can let them cool down, and store in mason jars in the refrigerator. Serve them with ice for elderberry ice tea.
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May Provide Relief From Cold & Cough
Elderberry tea might have been traditionally advocated for bringing relief from cold, cough, and sore throat. A 2016 study on intercontinental air travelers found that people who took elderberry extract were less likely to suffer from respiratory issues than those who did not.
Sweet and refreshing elderberry tea. Photo Credit: Shutterstock
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Fighting Colds And Flu
There is some evidence to support the claim that elderberry can help treat colds and flu, though the available studies are small.
In another study, 32 people with flu-like symptoms took lozenges containing 175 milligrams of elderberry extract four times a day for 2 days. After 24 hours, they reported an improvement in symptoms, such as fever, headache, muscle aches, and nasal congestion.
A double-blind, randomized control trial looked at whether elderberry extract could prevent people from experiencing cold-like symptoms after traveling on an airplane. People took lozenges containing 300 mg of elderberry extract and 150 mg of rice flour twice a day for 10 days before traveling.
Researchers found that the capsules did not prevent the symptoms, but people who took elderberry had less severe symptoms that lasted for a shorter time.
Scalp And Hair Benefits
Like most oils that are beneficial for improving the skin, the elderberry oil can be very useful in treating problems with the scalp. Applying a small dose on the roots of your hair can go a long way. Its believed that the serum of elderberry can accelerate the growth of the hair, making it healthier and firmer. You can also wash your hair with elderberry tea as a form of conditioner.
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