Medically Reviewed By Elizabeth A. Swick, MS, RDN
What Is Elderberry and What Is It Good For?
If you follow natural health and wellness influencers online, you've likely heard of elderberry before. Today, you can find people discussing elderberry and its support against viral-infections on many social media sites. While there is no evidence that elderberries are an effective treatment for such viruses, the fruit has many promising benefits for the human body. Read on to learn more about elderberry benefits and to get answers to your questions regarding elderberry supplements.
What Is Elderberry?
Elderberries are tiny blackish-purple berries that grow on Sambucus shrubs. The berries have been used in folk remedies in many parts of the world for generations.
Where Do Elderberries Grow?
The elderberry plant grows wild in North America and Europe. They do well in moist, well-drained soil and can be grown as an ornamental shrub in the United States.
What Does Elderberry Taste Like?
Elderberries have a very bitter taste when eaten raw. Often, elderberries are mixed with other fruits or sweetened to counteract the bitterness But they are not as popular to eat as other berries.
What Does Elderberry Do?
Elderberry contains beneficial compounds called polyphenols. These substances help plants thrive, and there is evidence to suggest that they may be beneficial for the human body.
Does Elderberry Work?
Many studies have yielded promising results regarding the effectiveness of elderberry; however, more research is needed to prove that the berries will work for addressing any medical concern for everyone who takes them.
What Are the Benefits of Elderberry?
Based on early studies, elderberries are believed to:
- Provide antioxidant protection. Anthocyanin found in elderberries is an antioxidant that breaks down free radicals found in pollution and ultraviolet energy.
- Support immune system function. The polyphenols found in elderberries may help support the immune system's activities, which is responsible for defending the body against illnesses and driving the healing process.
- Promote healthy aging. Free radicals drive the aging process, and antioxidants are often taken to reduce the risk of premature signs of aging.
- Support heart health. Antioxidants may help to protect the cardiovascular system from free radicals. Some people also believe that elderberry may help to lower cholesterol levels.
- Address cold and flu symptoms. People take elderberry to support immune function to ease symptoms like coughing, body aches, fatigue, sore throat, headaches, and fever.
- Fight bacterial infections. As a fold remedy, elderberries are used for bronchitis and sinus infections caused by bacteria.
What Is an Elderberry Supplement?
Natural elderberries may cause nausea and other digestive issues if eaten raw. Most experts recommend boiling them or processing them into jam or tea if you want to reap the health benefits of natural elderberries but this is not a very practical process. Elderberry supplements are very popular because many people don't have the time to do this or may even have difficulty finding the raw berries in their local stores. A supplement is a lozenge, capsule, tablet, powder, liquid, or other product containing a concentrated elderberries extract. The purpose of a supplement is to treat your body to the nutrients found in elderberries through a simple form to take.
What Should I Look for When Buying an Elderberry Supplement?
- Capsules are the best delivery method. Lozenges and liquids usually carry unnecessary sugars for taste improvement. Capsules only deliver the pure and concentrated extract without unwanted substances. Body Kitchen’s Nordic Elder Shield is a perfect example of such supplement.
- Amount of elderberries per serving. Supplements differ in dosages. Body Kitchen Nordic-Elder Shield contains the equivalent of 27 grams of fresh elderberries per serving, making it 20 times more potent than other brands.
- Spectrum of nutrients. Broad-spectrum supplements that contain many of the polyphenols present in elderberries are generally superior to those that feature just one of the plant compounds.
- How the extract is processed is key. How elderberries are turned into supplements matters. Body Kitchen Nordic-Elder Shield is made with a clean-water extraction process that removes plant sugars without disrupting the natural chemical structure of the elderberry. This helps to preserve its beneficial plant compounds.
Can You Take Elderberry Daily?
Studies into elderberry's benefits have only been short-term. Most involve only a five-day course of the supplement. At this time, there is not enough evidence to suggest the long-term effects of taking elderberry daily.
If you decide to take an elderberry supplement, you should always consult your medical provider before taking any new supplement, no matter your overall health profile.