Effects of Elderberry during Flu Season

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Effects of Elderberry during Flu Season

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!

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About the author: Larry Lewis
My name is Larry Lewis, Health & Wellness Life Coach, Founder of Healthy Lifestyles Living, contributor to the Huffington Post, recently featured in the Sunday Mail Newspaper and somebody who went from being an owner of a chain of gyms and fitness fanatic, to a visually impaired overweight and incredibly sick person. Read about my illness to wellness story.
12 Comments
  1. Amanda@BuySellWordPress March 6, 2012 at 3:16 pm

    It can be absolutely helpful for anyone! We don’t need to take some medicines, that can harm your health, but to take natural products

    • Mary Hudak-Colllins March 6, 2012 at 9:30 pm

      I believe that home made remedies beat out prescription medicines any day. Its unfortunate that we have become a society of ease; get a prescription, pop a pill. It may take a little longer to prepare, but natural is much better for our bodies.

  2. Judy A Murphy March 6, 2012 at 3:35 pm

    Hi Mary,
    Great information, I’ve seen Elderberry bushes, I thought this stuff was poisonous and a weed, I was told never to eat it, along with snake berries. So I treated them as such. A little story, Mom told me when I was a baby, I had a problem with a stomach ache, I was fussy, and restless. Mom called, my Aunt Mary and being an older woman with children experiences, who better to call. Mom told her of my tummy ache etc. Aunt Mary told Mom to give me some catnip, it would fix the tummy and give me some much deserved sleep. Mom hadn’t heard of the likes, asked how to fix it and where to find it, Aunt Mary said,” land sakes dear you have lots of it in your back yard, just behind the house,” she described it and proceeded to explain how to use it. Pick it and use the flower part, rinse and steep like tea, don’t let it steep very long because it’s for a baby, adults could drink to taste, for Judy put a little brown sugar in it, cool and give her a couple ounces. Mom did what she said, I went right to sleep. I slept and slept and then I slept, Mom was getting upset because I was sleeping so long. She call, Aunt Mary in a panic, Aunt Mary calmed her down and asked her how she fixed the catnip and how much she gave me. Mom told her what she did and how much she gave me. Aunt Mary said, “not to worry the babe is fine.” Mom said, “are you sure, maybe I boiled the catnip to long”. ( Moms Grandma used to boil her tea and Mom wasn’t a tea drinker). Aunt Mary said “you boiled it”, Mom said “yes”, Aunt Mary said,”oh dear, next time pour the boiled water over the catnip and let stand about three minutes for baby, as she gets older steep a little longer.” Aunt Mary told Mom to move me around off and on till I woke up. Mom thanked her and said,” I hope there never has to be a next time and if there is, I’ll bring the catnip for you to steep.” Mom said “after I woke up, she kept me in her arms the best part of the day.”
    You know right to this day I like catnip tea and the smell of it raw or brewed. My husbands cat likes the dry catnip and even gets a little happy crazy after eating it. If only we knew about all the good healthy herbs we have at our reach, I believe our bodies would appreciate us taking them more, instead of so much prescribed drugs. Happy crazy, and more rest, isn’t a bad side affect. Mary, is this novel to much!

    • Mary Hudak-Colllins March 6, 2012 at 9:32 pm

      Wow Judy! So glad you did wake up LOL. I know that catnip tea has been used in my household for colic with my children when they were babies. It was like a miracle herb for me. I also used it to soothe them when they were teething. How interesting that a simple herb could be so calming. Thank you for sharing your story 🙂

  3. Martha Orlando March 6, 2012 at 10:44 pm

    Wow! Your story is shared here at the most auspicious of times. Danny has been suffering since Friday with what the doctor thinks is bronchitis. He is better, but could sure use more help in the area of congestion. I will definitely look for cough syrup or drops with elderberries in them!
    Thanks, Mary, for such a well-written and researched post!
    Blessings to you!

    • Mary Hudak-Colllins March 8, 2012 at 12:33 pm

      Martha, I hope that this helps him and that he gets to feeling better 🙂 I know it’s miserable when we get sick and are moving slow.

  4. Jessica March 7, 2012 at 1:13 am

    Some great info in this post! I wasn’t too familiar with the properties of elderberry before this post…thanks! I’m all for trying to supplement natural alternatives to help manage symptoms associated with the cold and flu. Thanks!

    • Mary Hudak-Colllins March 8, 2012 at 12:35 pm

      Jessica, I would much rather have a natural ingredient than a prescription to help me to feel better. Even if it happens to take just a little bit longer 🙂

  5. Corinne Rodrigues March 7, 2012 at 6:31 am

    I’m still trying to find what’s the equivalent for elderberry in Hindi.

    • Mary Hudak-Colllins March 8, 2012 at 12:36 pm

      Hmmmm Corinne…you have me stumped there LOL. I wouldn’t even have a clue. If you are ever in the states though, I will make sure that you get your hands on something ‘elderberry’ ☺

  6. Bongo March 17, 2012 at 9:57 pm

    I really don’t know anything about elderberries…but I do know about Zinc…I have seen flu and colds cut in half duration just from sucking on lozenges which are just Zinc…..As always…XOXOXOXOXO

    • Mary Hudak-Colllins March 18, 2012 at 7:14 pm

      I noticed, this season, that there are a lot of elderberry/zinc combinations out there in cough syrups and lozenges. They even have gluten free labels available so I’m smiling 🙂

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