Black elderberries have been clinically proven to reduce the symptoms of cold and flu and may be the solution to maintaining a healthy immune system this winter.
In a recent randomised, double blind, placebo controlled study, black elderberry extract was shown to reduce the duration of influenza by around four days1. This study adds weight to earlier research which found that within three days, the symptoms of influenza were relieved in nearly 90 per cent of cases treated with black elderberry extract, compared to six days in the placebo group2. And most recently, in an in-vitro study, black elderberry extract was also found to be 99 per cent effective against the H5N1 strain of Avian Flu 3.
Native to hedgerows in the UK and Europe throughout October, black elderberries are thought to contain a unique compound, which coats viruses and prevents them from penetrating and infecting healthy cells. As a result viruses, such as flu, are unable to replicate. The body’s white blood cells are then able to ingest the infected cells, effectively removing the virus from the body.
Black elderberries also contain high levels of natural antioxidants known as flavonoids which help strengthen the immune system against attack. As the black elderberry has twice the antioxidant capacity of blueberries and significantly more than cranberries4 this dark purple berry may be the unsung hero of the English countryside.
Though black elderberries should not be eaten directly from the bush, the immune health benefits of this delicious ‘superfood’ can still be enjoyed by cooking the berries and using them in recipes for jam or fruit pies. It is also worth noting that the immune health properties of elderberries can only be found in the fruit of the black elderberry bush and not in its elderflowers.
Expert immunologist and registered medical herbalist Dr Serene Foster says: “Black elderberries have been traditionally used to help protect against a range of viral ailments, including colds and flu, because of their natural immune health properties. Recent research has confirmed that these dark purple fruits contain a unique compound which helps the immune system to fight back against viruses.”
For more information and research on clinical trials on black elderberry visit the website www.blackelderberry.info.
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1 2004 (Zakay-Rones)
2 1995 (Zakay-Rones)
3 2005 (Balsingham)
4 As measured by Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) – the method of measuring antioxidant capacities of different foods.
The values given for total ORAC are as follows:
Elderberries - Total-ORAC (umol TE/100 g) 14,697
Blueberries - Total-ORAC (umol TE/100 g) 6,552
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