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The Benefits of Taking Elderberry

#HealthEssential - Preventative measures for fighting the flu and improving the immune system.

With February being a peak month for flu activity, this is the perfect time to introduce you to a daily health essential of mine. Taking oral elderberry daily is not only effective for fighting the flu, studies have shown that this flowering plant contains a number of beneficial properties. Here, I will educate you on the benefits of elderberry; where to purchase; and even how to make your own elderberry syrup at home. Class is in session, my friends.


Syllabus.

For as long as I can remember I have always had a weak immune system. No matter what season it was or even if the weather changed for a slight second, I would often find myself feeling a tickle in my throat. And that's when I knew; sickness was on the horizon. As a current graduate student and semi-social butterfly, my schedule frequently requires me to study, be in the lab, meet with professors, seminars, catch up on my internship duties, travel, drinks with the girls, family events, date nights with my beau and so much more. So clearly I do not have time to be sick! But honestly, who does? I became frustrated with my weak immune system always interfering with my life at the most inconvenient times. When one day, a miracle happened: my mother introduced me to the heaven-sent medicinal plant known as elderberry (Sambucus). Finally, my immune system has met its match.


For centuries, elderberry has been used for medicinal purposes with its origin dating back to Ancient Egypt in 3000 B.C.E. Studies have shown that elderberries contain specific compounds that hinder viruses from entering your cells. Not only can they be used to fight viruses but they have been found to inhibit the growth of bacteria as well. Additional studies were conducted to determine the other various characteristics of the plant. It has been found that elderberries are rich in Vitamin A, B, and +C as well as high in antioxidants. In fact, elderberries contain 3 times the anti-oxidants of blueberries and twice the Vitamin C of oranges. This medicinal plant is packed with polyphenols and bioflavonoids. Polyphenols are micronutrients that we get through certain plant-based foods. They can help reduce inflammation which is a source for a number of diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and neurodegenerative disease. Including elderberries - dark chocolate, tea, and red wine are packed full of polyphenols as well. In addition to polyphenols, elderberries contain bioflavonoids which are another group of plant derived compounds that contain antioxidants. Examples of bioflavonoids include dark chocolate and red wine as well. Who knew that red wine was this healthy?


Now that you all have had a brief introduction of elderberry and its properties; let's take a look at how it can improve your health.


Midterm.

One of the main benefits of elderberry is that it is known as an immune booster. The elder plant can naturally lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and sugar levels as well as reduce allergies, colds, flu symptoms, constipation, sinus issues, inflammation, nerve pain, and even cancer!


Below I will detail the Top 5 Benefits of Elderberry:

1. Fight Against Cold & Flu

Elderberry is a cost-effective treatment for both cold and flu symptoms. It is recommended that you take elderberry syrup at the first signs of cold and flu symptoms to prevent further spread of the virus. Although elderberry can be utilized as an extra preventative measure due to its anti-influenza capabilities, it is advised that you still get the flu shot.


2. Help Relieve Allergies

Elderberry's ability to improve the immune system and calm inflammation helps treat allergy symptoms. Additionally, it can help relieve nasal congestions as well. If you are a victim of pollen season like me, try taking 1 tbs of elderberry syrup every morning to help relieve your allergy symptoms.


3. Encourage Healthy Skin

Elderberry is packed with Vitamin A which helps decrease wrinkles and age spots. The bioflavonoids in the elder plant help to reduce acne as well. For centuries, this medicinal plant has been applied to the skin to treat minor wounds too.


4. Natural Diuretic

Having a bit of trouble going to the bathroom? Studies have shown that elderberry may help to treat constipation and promote urination and bowel movement. Additionally, elderberry reduces uric acid levels. Elderberry can help promote gut health as well where it assists with high fiber in nutrient uptake efficiency.


5. Anti-Cancer Properties

Scientists are studying the elder plant and its potential anti-cancer activity. Elderberry extracts are rich in anthocyanin and have been shown to have broad spectrum of pharmacologic and anti-carcinogenic properties. Additional studies are needed to further evaluate the elderberry as a preventative measure against cancer.


Overall, elderberry is a significant beneficial tool to promoting your health. Since taking elderberry, I rarely get sick these days. It is literally my secret weapon! It is recommended that a teaspoon of home-made elderberry syrup or store-bought elderberry syrup/gummies per day is the recommended daily serving. Standard doses are 1/2-1 teaspoon for kids and 1/2 - 1 tablespoon for adults. If you are pregnant, please consult with your doctor before taking. Below I will detail where you can purchase elderberry syrup or gummies as well as how to make elderberry syrup at home.


Note: Do not consume raw elderberries, it can lead to nausea if not properly prepared.


Final.

You can purchase both elderberry syrup and elderberry gummies at your local Kroger, Target, Walmart, Walgreens, and CVS for under $15. I take Nature's Way Sambucus Standardized Elderberry Gummies twice a day, everyday.



With February being Black History Month, I wanted to showcase a few black-owned businesses that sell elderberry syrup. Rib LLC (IG: fromtherib) founded by Ciara Herring sells Elderberry Blend Tea and Elderberry Olive Leaf Tea. Geneva's Market is a family owned and operated online grocery market that sells Organic Alkaline Elderberry Syrup. Live Well Natural Products owned by Marcus Lamb sells a variety of natural supplements including dried elderberry by the pound. Feel free to support these black-owned businesses by purchasing their products or sharing their business!


Elderberry Syrup Recipe~

Ingredients: 1 cup of dried elderberries, 4 cups of water, 1 tablespoon of cinnamon or 1 tablespoon of ginger root, and 1 cup of raw honey.

Steps:

1. Add all ingredients (except honey) in a large pot or medium saucepan.

2. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat. Cover and simmer for 45 min - 1 hr.

3. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 10 mins. Pour the syrup through a strainer into a bowl and allow it to completely cool.

4. Add honey and stir until dissolved.

5. Pour completed elderberry syrup into a jar, seal, and store in fridge* or freezer

*use within 2 weeks if storing in fridge


Thanks for reading and I look forward to sharing more #HealthEssentials with y'all!

XO, Xiara.



Xi's Takeaway Essentials:

  • Add elderberry to your preventative sickness routine

  • Plan to take it days before traveling

  • The syrup is most effective if you start using it before you get sick

  • Support any of the black-owned businesses above or create homemade elderberry syrup with my easy recipe above


Sources/Additional Reading(s) include: Hello Natural, Dr. Axe Food & Medicine, Heart + Home, Flint River Elderberry, and HealthLine.