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Elderberry Extract: Nature’s “Tamiflu”

An Ancient Panacea

The medicinal use of the elderberry is nothing new.  Mentioned in ancient medicinal texts, the humble black elderberry has been used as a multi-purpose treatment for centuries.  In 400 BC, Hippocrates referred to the elderberry bush as his “medicine chest” because of its varied uses, and it was mentioned several times in the writings of Pliny the Elder when he recorded  the practices of the ancient Romans.

To learn more about the historical uses of all components of the elderberry bush, check out this detailed article on Botanical.com.

 How It Works

Scientists have isolated the active compound in the elderberry.  It is called Antivirin and is found in proteins of the black elderberry and is seen to have anti-viral properties potentially helping to stop the spread of the flu virus (1).  One study proposes that the active components in Sambucol activate the healthy immune system by increasing inflammatory cytokine production (2).

Avian Flu

This is especially important with something like the Avian flu, which, according to the CDC, has a mortality rate of 60% in the 600 cases reported worldwide.   At this point the Avian flu is rarely transmissible to, or between, humans.  The fear is that a mutation of the virus could change that, instigating a deadly pandemic.  (Alarmingly, the Avian virus has been successfully mutated by scientists, causing public outcry that this “research” could be weaponized in the future, but that’s a different article.)

Since the first avian influenza outbreak, in 1997, there has been concern that the influenza A (H5N1) virus might either mutate and adapt to allow efficient transmission during the infection of mammals or reassort its gene segments with human influenza viruses during the coinfection of a single host, resulting in a new virus that would be both highly lethal and transmissible from person to person. Such events are believed to have preceded the influenza pandemics of 1918, 1957, and 1968. Several lines of evidence indicate that the currently circulating influenza A (H5N1) viruses have in fact evolved to more virulent forms since 1997, with a higher mortality among human cases, different antigenic properties, a different internal gene constellation,and an expanded host range.  (source)

According to a study by Zacay-Rones in 1995, black elderberry was proven to be effective against the Avian flu, specifically Panama B strain.

A standardized elderberry extract, Sambucol (SAM), reduced hemagglutination and inhibited replication of human influenza viruses type A/Shangdong 9/93 (H3N2), A/Beijing 32/92 (H3N2), A/Texas 36/91 (H1N1), A/Singapore 6/86 (H1N1), type B/Panama 45/90, B/Yamagata 16/88, B/Ann Arbor 1/86, and of animal strains from Northern European swine and turkeys, A/Sw/Ger 2/81, A/Tur/Ger 3/91, and A/Sw/Ger 8533/91 in Madin-Darby canine kidney cells. A placebo-controlled, double blind study was carried out on a group of individuals living in an agricultural community (kibbutz) during an outbreak of influenza B/Panama in 1993. Fever, feeling of improvement, and complete cure were recorded during 6 days. Sera obtained in the acute and convalescent phases were tested for the presence of antibodies to influenza A, B, respiratory syncytial, and adenoviruses. Convalescent phase serologies showed higher mean and mean geometric hemagglutination inhibition (HI) titers to influenza B in the group treated with SAM than in the control group. A significant improvement of the symptoms, including fever, was seen in 93.3% of the cases in the SAM-treated group within 2 days, whereas in the control group 91.7% of the patients showed an improvement within 6 days (p < 0.001). A complete cure was achieved within 2 to 3 days in nearly 90% of the SAM-treated group and within at least 6 days in the placebo group (p < 0.001). No satisfactory medication to cure influenza type A and B is available. Considering the efficacy of the extract in vitro on all strains of influenza virus tested, the clinical results, its low cost, and absence of side-effects, this preparation could offer a possibility for safe treatment for influenza A and B. (source)

Effectiveness

Sambucol has been shown to reduce the symptoms and the duration of flu sufferers.  It has been tested on both Influenza A and Influenza B strains.  In one study it was noted that subjects taking Sambucol instead of a placebo took fewer over the counter medications to relieve symptoms like fever, aches and congestion.

Thom’s findings were presented at the 15th Annual Conference on Antiviral Research in 2002. The study has been accepted for publication in the Journal of International Medical Research.

The study involved 60 patients who had been suffering with flu symptoms for 48 hours or less; 90% were infected with the A strain of the virus, 10% were infected with type B. Half the group took 15 milliliters of Sambucol or and the other group took a placebo four times a day for five days.

Patients in the Sambucol group had “pronounced improvements” in flu symptoms after three days: Nearly 90% of patients had complete cure within two to three days. Also, the Sambucol group had no drowsiness, the downside of many flu treatments.

The placebo group didn’t recover until at least day six; they also took more painkillers and nasal sprays. (source)

Sambucol will not prevent the flu, but will shorten the duration and severity of the flu.

How to Take Elderberry Extract

In the Israeli study, mentioned above, each day  children were given 1/2 tablespoon of Sambucol extract four times per day, and adults were given 1 tablespoons four times per day.  It’s important to note that the only form of elderberry extract that has been used in studies is Sambucol, which is based on a standardized black elderberry extract.

There are a few different ways you can take the pleasant tasting liquid:

  • Right out of the spoon
  • Mixed with hot water and honey for a tea
  • Mixed with sparkling water and served over ice for a refreshing “soda pop”-like beverage

 Store your elderberry extract in a cool dry place – we keep our bottle in the refrigerator.

Unlike chemical medications, there have been no reported side effects from Sambucol.  Although you should always check with your physician before taking this or any other remedy.  It is safe for children over 2 and the elderly.  No studies have been done regarding the safety of Sambucol during pregnancy or breastfeeding.  There are no reported contraindications for those taking other medications, or those who suffer from asthma or high blood pressure.

Research is ongoing regarding the use of Sambucol for the treatment of allergies, cancer, inflammatory disorders and HIV.

Resources:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27717933
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11399518
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12455180

Sambucol Original Liquid Black Elderberry 7.8 fl.oz

Backyard Medicine: Harvest and Make Your Own Herbal Remedies

Herbal Antivirals: Natural Remedies for Emerging & Resistant Viral Infections

Frontier Natural Products Whole Elder-European Berries — 16 oz

Farm Fresh Sun Dried Elderberries – Organic Pesticide Free Sun Dried Elderberries (16 oz (1 lb))

About the author:

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Daisy Luther  lives in a small village in the Pacific Northwestern area of the United States.  She is the author of The Organic Canner and The Pantry Primer: How to Build a One Year Food Supply in Three Months. On her website, The Organic Prepper, Daisy uses her background in alternative journalism to provide a unique perspective on health and preparedness, and offers a path of rational anarchy against a system that will leave us broke, unhealthy, and enslaved if we comply.  Daisy’s articles are widely republished throughout alternative media. You can follow her on FacebookPinterest,  and Twitter, and you can email her at daisy@theorganicprepper.ca

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