How to use elderberry to fight off flus and viruses

Ill man with a hard flu at home.

This traditional remedy packs quite a punch — if you use it right

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How to use elderberry to fight off flus and viruses

Elderberries are the edible fruit of the Sambucus plant.

These berries play a large role in many traditional herbal healing cultures around the world.

Is commonly used to fight the flu.

The flu is caused by the influenza virus — which is particularly tough.

Many foods and supplements are shown to lower the chances of contracting flu — but few are proven to fight flu after someone has been infected.

Scientists have recently discovered that this herbal remedy is effective at directly fighting flu infection.

In fact, elderberry exerts most of its antiviral effect in the later stages of influenza.

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These experiments were carried out at the University of Sydney, School of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia.

The results were published in the Journal of Functional Foods.

There are multiple lines of evidence which show that elderberry is effective against the flu virus.

“Elderberry extract is effective in treatment of flu.”

The authors of this study were interested in finding out the mechanisms by which elderberry acts against influenza.

Prior research had identified 1 elderberry compound as having a particular effect on flu virulence.

“This study aimed to determine the mechanism of action of elderberry and its primary active compound, cyn 3-glu, against influenza virus.”

Viruses invade the cell and use the cell material to make more viruses.

Finally, the cell is destroyed and the new viruses released.

But before the virus can invade, it has to attach itself to the cell. 

Most strains of the flu virus use a protein called hemagglutinin (HA) to attach to human cells.

In this study, researchers analyzed the ability of the flu virus to attach to human cells with HA in the presence of elderberry extracts.

“The direct effect was studied via hemagglutination inhibition assay.”

During the early stages of flu, the elderberry extract was only mildly effective.

“Elderberry showed mild inhibitory effect at the early stages of the influenza virus cycle.”

Once the infection began to spread, elderberry strongly opposed the virus.

“Elderberry showed considerably stronger effect in the post infection phase.”

The elderberry remedies had a strong effect on hemagglutinin — preventing the viruses from attaching to cells — slowing infection.

“The action of Elderberry is direct, suppressing viral entry, affecting the post infection phase and viral transmission from cell to cell.”

Blocking viral replication is one of the most interesting and unique means by which elderberry fights flu infection.

“In conclusion, Elderberry exhibits multiple modes of therapeutic action against influenza infection.”

The cell experiments explain previous human data showing that elderberry fights many flu strains.

For example…

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In 1993, researchers at the Department of Virology, Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School, Jerusalem, Israel carried out a human trial looking at the effect of elderberry during a flu outbreak.

“A placebo-controlled, double blind study was carried out on a group of individuals living in an agricultural community during an outbreak of influenza B/Panama in 1993.”

Some of the patients were given a standardized elderberry extract called Sambucol.

Those infected with the flu recovered much more rapidly if they had taken elderberry.

“A significant improvement of the symptoms, including fever, was seen in 93.3% of the cases in the elderberry-treated group within 2 days, whereas in the control group 91.7% of the patients showed an improvement within 6 days.”

Flu recovery time was dramatically reduced.

“A complete cure was achieved within 2 to 3 days in nearly 90% of the elderberry-treated group and within at least 6 days in the placebo group.”

The recent cell experiments show how elderberry blocks the progression of the flu virus, explaining why it accelerates recovery.

“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.”

Not all flu viruses operate by hemagglutinin, so we don’t know if elderberry works on all strains.

You should always seek medical attention from a healthcare professional if you have been infected with influenza.

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Matt Cook is editor-in-chief of Daily Medical Discoveries. Matt has been a full time health researcher for 26 years. ABC News interviewed Matt on sexual health issues not long ago. Matt is widely quoted on over 1,000,000 websites. He has over 300,000 daily newsletter readers. Daily Medical Discoveries finds hidden, buried or ignored medical studies through the lens of 100 years of proven science. Matt heads up the editorial team of scientists and health researchers. Each discovery is based upon primary studies from peer reviewed science sources following the Daily Medical Discoveries 7 Step Process to ensure accuracy.