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How Effective is Elderberry at Fighting Illness?

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How Effective is Elderberry at Fighting Illness? – Thomas DeLauer

Nutrient Profile

Elderberry contains a wide range of antioxidants:

Vitamin C: There are 6–35 mg of vitamin C per 100 grams of fruit (decent amount, but nothing special)

Phenolic acids: These compounds are powerful antioxidants that can help reduce damage from oxidative stress in the body

Flavonoids: Elderberry contains the antioxidant flavonoids quercetin & kaempferol

Nutrients – Benefits

Vitamin C

Phenolic Acids

Phenolic acids are readily absorbed through the walls of your intestinal tract, and they may be beneficial to your health because they work as antioxidants that prevent cellular damage due to free-radical oxidation reactions


Flavonoids (quercetin & kaempferol)

Quercetin is the “master flavonoid”, a strong antioxidant and one of the best natural antihistamines

It boosts levels of glutathione, reduces inflammation by blocking important inflammatory pathways (COX-2), and blocks the release of histamine, reducing allergies and mast cell activation

Kaempferol’s main benefit is that it’s a potent inflammatory suppressant – it has been found to correlate with reduced serum interleukin-6 levels, and be a disruptor of TNF – TNF promotes activation of IL-8

Note: Kaempferol seems to hold therapeutic effects through the endocannabinoid system. Fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) functions in the breakdown of anandamide, an endocannabinoid capable in disrupting the inflammatory response. Kaempferol has been documented to inhibit FAAH activity, allowing anandamide to continue to exert its therapeutic effects. However, concentrations of kaempferol needed to block FAAH are not achievable through dietary consumption, due to kaempferol’s poor bioavailability, but found it interesting nonetheless


Study #1 – The Journal of International Medical Research

Researchers looked at the efficacy and safety of oral elderberry syrup for treating influenza A and B infections

60 patients (aged 18-54 years) suffering from influenza-like symptoms for 48 hours or less received 15 ml of elderberry or placebo syrup four times a day for 5 days

Found that those who took 15 ml of elderberry syrup four times per day showed symptom improvement in 2 to 4 days, while the control group took 7 to 8 days to improve

Concluded that elderberry extract seems to offer an efficient, safe and cost-effective treatment for influenza


Study #2 – Nutrients

Air travel can be stressful, especially for respiratory health, so this study looked at the effects of elderberry supplementation in 312 economy class passengers travelling from Australia to an overseas destination

Most cold episodes occurred in the placebo group (17 vs. 12 days), however the difference was not considered significant

Placebo group participants had a significantly longer duration of cold episode days (117 vs. 57)

Concluded that ederberry has a mild, yet favorable effect on treating a cold


**Seems to have a moderate effect on colds**


1) Ulbricht C , et al. (n.d.). An evidence-based systematic review of elderberry and elderflower (Sambucus nigra) by the Natural Standard Research Collaboration. – PubMed – NCBI. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24409980

2) Advanced research on the antioxidant and health benefit of elderberry (Sambucus nigra) in food ? a review. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1756464614002400

3) Ströhle A and Hahn A. (n.d.). [Vitamin C and immune function]. – PubMed – NCBI. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19263912

4) Carr AC and Maggini S. (n.d.). Vitamin C and Immune Function. – PubMed – NCBI. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29099763

5) https://www.intechopen.com/books/phenolic-compounds-biological-activity/plant-phenolic-compounds-as-immunomodulatory-agents

6) Polyphenols and Immune System. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780128130087000229

7) Flavonoids, Inflammation and Immune System. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5084045/

8) Quercetin, Inflammation and Immunity. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4808895/

9) A review of the dietary flavonoid, kaempferol on human health and cancer chemoprevention. (15). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3601579/

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