Amazing Elderberry Health Benefits

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Elderberry (Sambucus) is a common home remedy used to treat the common cold and flu. The genus Sambucus includes as many as 30 shrubs and trees native to both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres.

Black Elderberry (Sambucus nigra) produces black berries that can be eaten raw or cooked as jam or reduced to a concentrated syrup or used as a rich and flavorful fruit base for wine. The elderberry blossoms can also be used to make a healthy herbal tea.

It is important to note that only elderberry blossoms and ripe berries are safe for consumption. Elder leaves and bark contain alkaloids which can cause nausea, vomiting and dizziness.

Elderberry contains the natural ingredients flavonoids, anthocyanins and lectins. When combined, these three active ingredients are effective in the treatment of colds and flu. They also stimulate your immune system by increasing the production of beneficial antibodies. The nutrients found in elderberry also increase the number of cytokines, the cellular messengers that release macrophages which destroy abnormal or invading cells. Recent research also indicates that elderberry increases the level of Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNF), a specific cytokine that reduces the lifespan of tumor cells.

Elderberry also reduces recovery time of infections. While elderberry is an excellent immune booster, it is also an effective flu remedy. If you should succumb to a cold or the flu, a study performed at the University of Oslo in Norway found that 93% of flu patients given elderberry extract were completely symptom free within 2 days while those who received a placebo recovered in 6 days.

Historical uses of elderberry. Native tribes ate elderberries ripe and dried, and Spring blossoms were used in foods and steeped into teas and salves. Teas made from the toxic inner bark were used as a strong laxative while the Onondaga used the inner bark as an emetic to counter poisoning. Reductions of elderberry (syrup) were used as a treatment for coughs, colds and flu.

Today modern herbalists continue to recommend the use of elderberries. The Spring flowers and ripe berries are used as fruit, flavorings, wines, blossom tisanes and teas. Elderberries are also used as the base for a variety of syrups, infusions, tinctures, and teas to treat coughs, colds, arthritis, congestion, and allergies.

To get the most from your elderberries, concentrated elderberry extracts and syrups contain more nutrients and benefits than the berries alone. Elderberry lozenges are also an excellent option as they are absorbed quickly to begin inhibiting viral invaders from entering into host cells, thereby slowing their spread.

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