While a plant-based diet will do most of the work — plants are naturally rich in antioxidants, anti-inflammatory properties, and immune system boosters — another great source of these body-friendly characteristics is the herb world!
When it comes to herbs that pair nicely with your immune system, you’ll want to look at Elderberry.
This ancient herb has been used for thousands of years to treat a variety of ailments. In more modern times, studies have found that elderberry is quite effective at boosting the immune system, decreasing the severity of certain ailments, and infuses the body with other wonderful health benefits.
Let’s dive in and learn all we can about Elderberry!
What is Elderberry?
Elderberry is one of the most trustworthy herbs and happens to be “one of the most commonly used medicinal plants in the world.” From the ancient Egyptians to Native Americans, Elderberry has been used to treat infections, heal burns, improve skin clarity, and speed recovery from ailments such as the common cold and the flu.
Most elderberries come from the Sambucus nigra, also known as the European elderberry or black elder, which is native to Europe, yet is now cultivated globally due to the herbs high demand.
While the flowers have been used for a wide variety of ailments — from “pain relief, swelling, inflammation, to [stimulation of] the production of urine and [induceing] sweating” — the berries are where the nutrients live — including vitamin C, dietary fiber, and antioxidants such as phenolic acids, flavonols, and anthocyanins — and where the immune-boosting powers are at.
Elderberry and Your Immune System
When it comes to kicking ailments, elderberry has been tried and tested through a variety of studies.
One of the largest studies involved “312 air travelers taking capsules containing 300 mg of elderberry extract three times per day.” The study found that “those who got sick experienced a shorter duration of illness and less severe symptoms.”
There were two other smaller studies, one which involved “60 people with influenza” and another that involved “64 people [who took] 175-mg elderberry extract lozenges for two days.” The first study found that “those who took 15 ml of elderberry syrup four times per day showed symptom improvement in two to four days, while the control group took seven to eight days to improve.” The second study saw “significant improvement in flu symptoms, including fever, headache, muscle aches, and nasal congestion, after just 24 hours.”
How does it work?
Based on research, the immune-boosting properties rely on a few different components of black elderberry, the first of which is an extract called Sambucol. Sambucol is a “natural [remedy] with antiviral properties, especially against strains of influenza virus.” It’s been found that Sambucol and “its formulations activate the healthy immune system by increasing inflammatory cytokine production,” as well as contain “immunoprotective or immunostimulatory [effects].”
Other Health Benefits of Elderberry
Elderberry isn’t just good for your immune system but has been found to be a loving agent for the entire body. This natural medicinal aid has been linked to a wide variety of health benefits, making this supplement a wonderful immune booster with benefits!
1. Increased Heart Health
While it’s true that more studies need to be conducted on the relationship between elderberry and heart health, the preliminary findings are super positive!
Elderberry juice has been found to “reduce the level of fat in the blood and decrease cholesterol,” which are two markers that may indicate overall heart health. On top of that, it’s a well-known statistic that diets “high in flavonoids like anthocyanins [have] been found to reduce the risk of heart disease.”
Along with these factors, elderberries may also “reduce levels of uric acid in the blood,” — a component that is linked to “increased blood pressure and negative effects on heart health” — as well as “increase insulin secretion and improve blood sugar levels.”
2. Rich in Antioxidants
One of the best benefits of a plant-based diet is the high levels of antioxidants. Antioxidants are major protectors of the body and help to avoid the harm that is caused by oxidative stress.
What is oxidative stress?
As our body works through the normal metabolic process, it releases reactive molecules that accumulate and cause oxidative stress. This “stress” has been found to lead to the “development of diseases like type 2 diabetes and cancer.”
Antioxidants, on the other hand, “are natural components of foods … that are able to remove these reactive molecules.”
While most berries contain high amounts of antioxidants, elderberry “is one of the most effective antioxidants” of the bunch!
Elderberries are a great addition to a plant-based diet. They’re not only low in calories and high in antioxidants, but they’re rich in a slew of nutrients! For example, “100 grams of fresh berries contain [only] 73 calories, 18.4 grams of carbs and less than 1 gram each of fat and protein.”
Elderberries also deliver vitamin C, dietary fiber (great for your gut!), phenolic acids and flavonols, — “powerful antioxidants that can help reduce damage from oxidative stress” — and anthocyanins — the compounds that give fruit “its characteristic dark black-purple color,” plus they’re a “strong antioxidant with anti-inflammatory effects.”
Dangers of Elderberry
With any food, supplement, or drug, it’s always important to note the possible side effects. It’s even more important to consult a doctor before you begin consuming a new substance.
This also goes for elderberry.
When it comes to processing elderberry, the “bark, unripe berries, and seeds contain small amounts [of] substances known as lectins, which can cause stomach problems if too much is eaten.” Along with lectins, elderberry also has a substance “called cyanogenic glycosides, which can release cyanide in some circumstances.” With that said, in order for this to be a lethal or toxic problem, you would have to consume large amounts of the unprocessed berries.
Luckily, these issues generally only crop up if you have a very sensitive stomach, consume raw berries, or plan to make your own tinctures of elderberry extract. If you opt for a syrup, liquid, or capsule from a reputable company, then these aren’t necessarily huge issues.
Now that you know all there is to know about the elderberry plant and you’ve received the all-okay from your doctor, it’s time to find the right type of elderberry supplement for you! In order to steer clear of the possible toxicity dangers, here are give safe supplements to have on hand in your natural medicine cabinet.
1. Seattle Elderberry Vegan Organic Elderberry Syrup with Maple
This Seattle Elderberry Vegan Organic Elderberry Syrup with Maple is crafted from wild-grown, organic elderberries. Each batch is created in small batches which makes and preserves high-quality an Eldeberry extract. Plus, this syrup is vegan, gluten-free, contains zero natural flavors, citric acid, and is naturally sweetened with a dash of maple syrup! A 16-ounce bottle costs $33.00.
2. Gaia Herbs Vegan Organic Black Elderberry Extract for Daily Immune and Antioxidant Support
You can’t go wrong with Gaia Herbs! They are a highly trusted brand offering a slew of vegan herbal supplement options. This Gaia Herbs Vegan Organic Black Elderberry Extract for Daily Immune and Antioxidant Support was created from high-quality, fresh, organic, vegan ingredients. They don’t use any fillers or sweeteners and take allergies into consideration nixing gluten, soy, and dairy as well! On top of that, this elderberry supplement has been combined with Acerola fruit for a second helping of antioxidants and flavonoids. A 60-capsule bottle costs $23.19.
3. Go Healthy Natural Vegan Sambucus Elderberry Gummies for Kids
If you’re looking for a great immune booster for the kids, these Go Healthy Natural Vegan Sambucus Elderberry Gummies for Kids are a great option! They’re 100 percent vegan, made from all-natural ingredients, and source their “gumminess” from citrus fruit pectin. These hand-crafted gummy supplements are hand-crafted — assuring a high-quality product — and they’re also nut-free! A 30-serving bottle costs $14.99.
4. MaryRuth’s Organic Vegan Elderberry Syrup
Another trusted vegan supplement brand offering up pretty much whatever you can think of to the vegan community! This MaryRuth’s Organic Vegan Elderberry Syrup is a special blend of elderberries “designed for easy absorption to ensure that your body can harness all of the astounding benefits.” Even though it’s a small business, MaryRuth’s Organics always offers up the best quality with organic, non-GMO, and chemical-free supplements. A 1-ounce bottle costs $23.95.
5. Garden of Life MyKind Organics Vegan Elderberry Immune Gummy
One of the last truly great supplement brands! This Garden of Life MyKind Organics Vegan Elderberry Immune Gummy supplement is made with organic elderberry, echinacea, zinc, and vitamin C for a powerful dose of immune system-boosters. Garden of Life promises their product is made with real fruit and real food! A 120-bulk bottle costs $40.50.
Learn How to Cook Plant-Based Meals at Home!
Golden Mylk Adaptogen Cups/One Green Planet
Reducing your meat intake and eating more plant-based foods is known to help with chronic inflammation, heart health, mental wellbeing, fitness goals, nutritional needs, allergies, gut health and more! Dairy consumption also has been linked many health problems, including acne, hormonal imbalance, cancer, prostate cancer and has many side effects.
For those of you interested in eating more plant-based, we highly recommend downloading the Food Monster App — with over 15,000 delicious recipes it is the largest plant-based recipe resource to help reduce your environmental footprint, save animals and get healthy! And, while you are at it, we encourage you to also learn about the environmental and health benefits of a plant-based diet.
Here are some great resources to get you started:
For more Animal, Earth, Life, Vegan Food, Health, and Recipe content published daily, subscribe to the One Green Planet Newsletter! Lastly, being publicly-funded gives us a greater chance to continue providing you with high quality content. Please consider supporting us by donating!