Updated: Mar 4, 2019
It's winter here in Minnesota - cold and flu season. I just heard on the news today that hospitals and care centers are asking that any person with even a sniffle not visit anyone in their facilities to reduce spread of influenza. Time to increase your intake of elderberry!
Is Elderberry Worth All The Hype?
Yes, indeed. Elderberry based syrups, such as Sambuccol, have been shown to decrease the severity and length of viral infections such as influenza and other respiratory infections, such as the common cold.
What is the Magic Behind Elderberry?
Numerous biomedical studies have shown potent antiviral activity against influenza and other respiratory viruses.
A virus is a microscopic organism that can replicate itself only inside the cells of a host organism because viruses do not contain ribosomes, which are necessary for replication.
A virus is covered with tiny spikes that puncture the cell membrane of healthy host cells. Those spikes contain an enzyme that breaks down the cell’s membrane so the virus can enter, take over the cell and then rapidly multiply.
It is hypothesized that active ingredients in black elderberry bind to and cover the spikes, inhibiting them from piercing the cell membrane and thus preventing the infection of healthy cells.
The truth is, science cannot always pinpoint the exact reason herbal remedies work as well as they do. There are unknown molecules in nature and botanicals which work in mysterious ways with the body.
What is the Difference Between Elderberry Tincture and Elderberry Syrup?
A tincture is made with alcohol, which extracts both the medicinal and nutritional parts of the berries. A syrup is made by simmering the berries in water and adding other herbs and spices to both add flavor and additional healing properties, and then sweetened with honey to finish it off. Which do I prefer? I use elderberry tincture daily through the winter months as an immune tonic and booster. It's simply easier for me to use regularly and is easier for me to make.
If I know I've been exposed directly to a cold or flu virus, or are traveling, I will take extra tincture and increase frequency.
My main use for my elderberry syrup is to add to kombucha for flavoring and to make gummies for my grandkids. However, you may have more success getting kids to consume elderberry by offering the syrup option. Check out my elderberry recipe blog, if you would like to make your own.