Elderberry has been touted as a medicinal wonder for centuries.
In fact, traditional Chinese medicine uses an elderberry wine to treat arthritis, physical injuries and other ailments. Many different cultures use elderberry to treat allergies, flu and various respiratory illnesses, including Europeans, African nations and Native Americans. (1)
It’s the plant’s tolerance to high heat that makes it such a viable medicinal plant.
In fact, the American elder has a higher tolerance to heat than other elder varieties. This opens the doorway wider to mainstream uses that are now only found in organic and health-conscious foods and other products in the US. (1)
With an ever-growing concern of pandemic flu viruses and the aggressive search for a cure, scientists are indeed looking in places they’ve traditionally discounted. Several have conducted studies on the potential of the elder plant.
Purdue University Study
Purdue University recently published a study that examined the European and American elder plants to explore claims made about the plant’s various healing properties. The study concluded that there are “important medicinal or therapeutic properties associated with American and black elders”. (2)
“Following earlier work done by Konlee (1998), these authors reported that a mixture containing elderberry extract had an inhibitory effect on haemagglutinin found in mycovirus.” (2)
Haemagglutinin is “a type of hemagglutinin found on the surface of the influenza viruses”. (3) Hemagglutinin is a “substance that causes red blood cells to agglutinate” or clump and stick together. (4) This clumping together is seen in bacterial infections. (5)
“More work done by Barak et al. (2001, 2002) have shown that such a mixture [SAM] could inhibit the replication of 11 strains of the influenza virus and increase cytokines production.” (2)
Cytokines are “small cell-signaling protein molecules that are secreted by numerous cells and are a category of signaling molecules used extensively in intercellular communication”. (6) This triggers an immune response of the body’s natural defenses.
Herbal Remedies Alive and Well
The Purdue paper has surprised many people since modern medicine typically looks down its microscopic nose at natural remedies as being archaic and unsophisticated.
This attitude is contradictory to modern medicine’s roots that were firmly planted in medicinal plant cures. Modern medicines later imitated and copied these plant properties into synthetic forms. In this pursuit of creating drugs, the art of natural healing was replaced with the art of medicine.
But the ancient cures didn’t become a lost art thanks to alternative medicine and homeopathic advocates who continued their practices. Unlike most synthetic drugs advertised with all manner of dangerous side-effects, plant cures have few to no harmful side effects.
Other Elderberry Flu Studies
The America elder commonly called elderberry, is one of the foremost varieties being studied as a possible treatment for flu. American elder is highly abundant as a native plant along the Eastern Seaboard of North America, Nova Scotia and Canada.
The NCBI (National Center for Biotechnology Information) published a paper authored by the Department of Virology, Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School, Jerusalem, Israel, titled, “Inhibition of several strains of influenza virus in vitro and reduction of symptoms by an elderberry extract” (Sambucus nigra L.) during an outbreak of influenza B Panama.
In 1993, Panama saw an outbreak of influenza B and a “placebo-controlled, double blind study” was conducted using (SAM – Standardized elderberry extract, Sambucol). In the study, participants’ blood was drawn during both the “acute and convalescent phases”. (7)
The results revealed that those patients treated with SAM:
–> Improved within 2 days (93.3%) compared to the non-treated (placebo) group that improved within 6 days (91.7%)
–> Experienced a complete cure “within 2 to 3 days ” (90%) compared to “within at least 6 days” for the placebo group
The report concluded, “Considering the efficacy of the extract in vitro on all strains of influenza virus tested, the clinical results, its low cost, and absence of side-effects, this preparation could offer a possibility for safe treatment for influenza A and B”. (7)
This study further revealed data from other elderberry studies throughout the world:
“A standardized elderberry extract, Sambucol (SAM), reduced hemagglutination and inhibited replication of human influenza viruses type A/Shangdong 9/93 (H3N2), A/Beijing 32/92 (H3N2), A/Texas 36/91 (H1N1), A/Singapore 6/86 (H1N1), type B/Panama 45/90, B/Yamagata 16/88, B/Ann Arbor 1/86, and of animal strains from Northern European swine and turkeys, A/Sw/Ger 2/81, A/Tur/Ger 3/91, and A/Sw/Ger 8533/91 in Madin-Darby canine kidney cells.” (7)
References & Image Credits:
(1) Wikipedia: Sambucus
(2) Purdue University
(3) Wikipedia: Hemagglutinin
(4) Medical Dictionary
(5) Wikipedia: Hemagglutinin Influenza
(6) Wikipedia: Cytokine
(7) National Center for Biotechnology Information
(8) zenera via photopin cc
(9) Sambucol Image