Elderberries are the dark purple fruit of the elderberry shrub. There are about 30 types of elderberry plants and trees around the world, with the most familiar and commonly used version of the European plant called the sambucus nigra. The healing properties of the sambucus nigra date back centuries as a medicinal and nutritional component that helps with the common cold and flu, sinus infections, and has been linked to being a powerful antioxidant that deals with pain relief (inflammation) and disease prevention (improve heart health and lower the risk of diabetes).
So what are elderberries? Well, elderberries fall in the category of anthocyanin – a group of rich antioxidants. Anthocyanin is a type of flavonoid (a class of compounds with antioxidant effects), that give off the pigmentation for red, blue and purple plants their deep and rich coloring. The plants in question are grapes, strawberries, raspberries and tomatoes. In addition, anthocyanin also offer anti-inflammatory, antiviral and anti-cancer benefits. So what are the health benefits and why do you need to consume this dark rich plant? Elderberry has been linked to multiple health benefits across supplements, cooking or simply consuming the fruit as it is (in the form of juice). It has been accredited to boost your immune system alleviate inflammation with the body, alleviate constipation and disease prevention, all linked to the antioxidant properties of anthocyanin. Making elderberry a powerful fruit that helps your body heal and function better if consumed in recommended amounts and requirements.
Boost Your Immune System
Elderberry is packed with nutrients, in particular a high concentration of Vitamin C that plays a crucial role in boosting your immune system to treat the common cold and flu and sinus infection, coupled with a high dietary fibre combination that alleviates constipation.
Pain Relief And Inflammation
The dark rich color of the elderberry fruit is rich in the antioxidant anthocyanins boosting anti-inflammatory benefits that can alleviate rheumatism. Whilst the elderberry flower in small clusters of white/cream is packed with more flavanols compared to the fruit itself – also known as the elderflower. These two factors of the elderberry plant make it a natural medicinal component that is great in alleviating inflammation in the body. Inflammation in the human body is normal, it is the body’s natural response to an infection or an injury. The body’s white blood cells enter the blood or tissues to protect your body from invaders, this process is normal but remember too much of anything is bad for you. Chronic inflammation however can be caused by chronic stress, poor diet, poor environmental factors such as pollution or unhealthy habits that include smoking, alcohol consumption or drug use. In these cases the body overproduces the chemicals in the white blood cells, fighting to protect your body, trying to bring your body back to normalcy. To which in cases, this overexposure to inflammation can result in oxidation which brings forth diseases such as cancer, diabetes, joint pain or health problems. The elderberry’s high value of nutrients alleviates pain and inflammation by inhibiting the production of nitric oxide by the body’s immune cells. The flavanols alleviate the oxidation bringing in healthy nutrients that create balance and healing in the body cells. The elderflower can be boiled to become a sweet syrup mixed with sugar or infused into a cup of tea to be consumed every day. Whilst the fruit can be a great food substitute in the form of elderberry juice, jam, chutney, pies or elderberry wine.
During normal metabolism, reactive molecules may be released and can accumulate in the human body (once again this is a normal process, but too much of anything can be bad for you). This can cause oxidative stress and can lead to diabetes and cancer. Antioxidants play the major role of helping to remove those reactive molecules, with natural components of vitamins, phenolic acid and flavonoids found in natural food. This is how chronic disease becomes better, by having a diet rich in antioxidants that aid your body to heal and function better as you respond to everyday stressors and demands of life. This helps to improve heart health, lower the risk of diabetes and lower the risk of cancer by improving your blood sugar levels, reducing fat cells in your body, lowering your cholesterol and boosting your immune system.
However, with such great health benefits, the only drawback with the elderberry fruit is that it cannot be consumed raw. Yes, you can only moderately consume the elderberry fruit in moderation because it can be poisonous making it extremely dangerous to consume over a long period of time. Elderberry is best consumed in cooked or processed form of food, supplements or beverage for best results and dietary requirements. Adding onto that, the elderberry plant bark, leaves and roots are actually quite poisonous and cannot in any way be consumed either raw or cooked. They have been linked to cyanide poisoning that can cause stomach upsets such as diarrhoea, abdominal distention and difficulty breathing.
Another question you may have is can you take elderberry to alleviate COVID 19 symptoms? While elderberry has been linked to alleviating the common cold and flu, it has not been linked to medicinally improving COVID 19 symptoms. Please speak to your medical practitioner for the appropriate use and consumption of elderberry alongside any medicinal offering they may avail. This shared information is solely linked to home remedies, dietary information and holistic lifestyle practices.