Medically Reviewed By Elizabeth A. Swick, MS, RDN
Bulletproofing Your Immune Health with Elderberries
Whether you're concerned about cold and flu season or general immune health, you can take steps to bolster your immunity against germs. A healthy diet, regular exercise, and getting enough sleep are good starting points for promoting immune system health and the right elderberry supplement can support your efforts by acting as an immune booster. Read on to find out how.
What Are Elderberries?
Elderberries are purple berries derived from the Sambucus nigra plant, dating back as far as 400 BC. The juicy berries are often used to produce pies, tarts, jellies, and wines and have been used as a folk remedy for various ailments in parts of North America, Europe, Asia, and North Africa for centuries.
What Impact Do Elderberries Have on the Immune System?
One of the traditional uses of elderberry is to ease cold and flu symptoms and to reduce the risk of infections. Elderberries are full of antioxidants and vitamins that may boost your immune system. Based on anecdotal evidence that berries may boost immunity, scientists have studied elderberries to determine the compounds that they contain.
According to research, polyphenols called anthocyanins likely benefit elderberries for immune health. These compounds are known antioxidants that fight the effects of oxidizing free radicals found in sunlight and air pollutants. Antioxidants may boost immune system health by aiding in the fight against reactive free radicals. Their actions may lessen the burden on the immune system, making it more available and better able to defend the body from germs, such as viruses and bacteria.
Evidence suggests that compounds in elderberries may directly inhibit viruses from multiplying, enabling you to recover more quickly when you get sick. In one study, air travelers who took elderberry twice daily before long flights experienced less severe and shorter periods of cold symptoms if they later fell ill. Another found that taking elderberry within 48 hours of the first cold and flu symptoms reduced the duration and severity of the illness.
What Are the Other Benefits of Elderberry?
In addition to potentially providing immune support, elderberry may provide other benefits, including:
* Relief from inflammation: Multiple studies indicate that antioxidants are anti-inflammatory compounds that decrease inflammation. As a result, they may be beneficial for individuals who suffer from chronic inflammation due to medical conditions.
* Cardiovascular support: Research shows that flavonoids, like the ones found in elderberries, may reduce blood pressure and low-density lipoprotein (LDL cholesterol) levels, as well as lower the risk of developing heart disease.
* Mood and cognitive support: In one animal study, mice that were given elderberry extract performed better in swimming and tail suspension tests and had better mood markers than those that didn't receive the extract, opening the doors to the possibility that elderberries may provide emotional and cognitive health benefits.
Do Elderberries Cause Side Effects?
Only certain parts of the elderberry plant are edible, so experts typically recommend taking supplements rather than consuming whole fruit if you're new to elderberries. Side effects from elderberry supplements are uncommon but can include digestive issues such as nausea and vomiting. Some people may be allergic to elderberries and are unable to take supplements safely, and elderberry extract may interact with some medications such as diuretics and laxatives. As a result, it's recommended to speak with your healthcare provider before trying an elderberry supplement for immune support for the first time.
How to Choose an Elderberry Supplement
When shopping for an elderberry supplement, it's essential to understand that not all products are the same. As you compare your options, consider the following:
* Dosage: How much elderberry extract do you get per serving, and is the amount a clinically effective dose?
* Source: Does the product contain whole elderberries that your body can readily use or is it strictly derived/made in a laboratory?
* Standardization: Is the product standardized to provide a certain amount of anthocyanins per serving?
* Purity: Does the product contain genetically modified ingredients (GMOs)?
* Dietary concerns: Do you need a product that will complement a specific eating plan such as a vegan diet?
Body Kitchen Nordic-Elder Shield Supplement contains a clinically studied, optimized, and patented form of whole Sambucus nigra extract. One serving delivers 27 grams of fresh elderberries (more than eight times the amount found in the leading competitor). Plus, the standardized form has 600 percent more anthocyanins, so you get more beneficial immune booster compounds from the berries. Our supplement is free of GMOs and is gluten and vegan-friendly to suit your dietary needs.
I’m a long time user of BK Elderberry.