When I was growing up, I have memories of my father feverishly picking elderberries and then making them into jellies and wine. I had no idea about the effects of elderberry during flu season and how they help keep you healthy. Our back yard was filled with elderberry bushes and they were plentiful every summer As I grew older and moved out on my own, I didn’t have the opportunity to carry on this tradition as there never seemed to be elderberry bushes any where near where I lived. That old adage ‘out of sight, out of mind’ comes into play.
I guess that not much thought went into the benefits of the ‘elderberry’. I always saw it as a fruit to make food from. Recently, I came across an article in the Taste For Life magazine addressing Elderberry and it’s importance during flu season. This spurred my interest in knowing more about the Elderberry and its health benefits.
Apparently, this little berry is considered an herbal immune booster and contains tons of antioxidants. It has been referred to as ‘nature’s medicine chest’, and was used by the American Indians to reduce fever. According to an article in Vitaminstuff.com, individuals have repeatedly used elderberries to treat inflammation, water retention, congestion, and relieve pain. It appears that not only the berry is beneficial to our health; the bark, flowers, and leaves have all been utilized in herbal medicinal purposes. Winery Adventures notes that there is an enzyme contained in the elderberry that is responsible for smoothing the outer spikes present on a virus, which disables its ability to break through our healthy cell walls, hence directly affecting our susceptibility towards the flu. When we look at all the herbal remedies available, ‘Elderberry is one of the most effective herbs for preventing and treating upper respiratory infections’. There are numerous lozenges and cough syrups containing elderberry on the market today. In 1995, Elderberry juice was utilized to treat a flu epidemic that broke out in Panama.
Although there are many articles available regarding the health benefits of the Elderberry, my primary focus is its affect on our bodies during the common flu season. No one enjoys being sick and laid up in the bed for a week or more. It distracts from our life, and prevents us from spending quality time with our families.
One thing to keep in mind is that the elderberry plant is considered poisonous and should only be ingested after cooking it first. The berries, in raw form, are edible but may have side effects of nauseas and/or vomiting.
The author of The Best of Raw Food shared a recipe for making Elderberry Lemonade, which she contributes, her avoidance of influenza. She recommends picking the flowers and placing them in a can of water, preferably leaving outside in the sun for a few hours, resulting in an Elderberry Lemonade.
In reading everything about Elderberries, I was led to search any articles related to studies done on the effects of elderberries and their relationship to the auto-immune system. Unfortunately, I was unable to find any. If you are familiar with any current or past research articles, please share your information in the comments section. Thank you!