Elderberries are one of the most commonly used medicinal plants in the world. They have been used by Native Americans to treat infections, and the ancients Egyptians used them to heal burns and improve their complexions. Today, they are still gathered and used in folk medicine in Europe and North America. There are many reported benefits of elderberries, and there are studies being conducted that look into their health benefits.
Listed below are some Elderberry health benefits.
1. Helps Fight Colds and Flu. Elderberries have been used for centuries to help treat colds and flu. There is some evidence to support these claims from some studies. A systematic review from 2010 concluded that elderberries may have antioxidant antiviral effects. The study’s author stated that more research is needed. A double-blind, randomized control trial tested if elderberry extract could prevent people from experiencing cold-like symptoms after traveling on an airplane. People in the study were given lozenges containing 300 mg of elderberry extract and 150 mg of rice flour twice a day for ten days before traveling. Researchers found that the lozenges did not prevent the cold-like symptoms. However, people who have taken elderberry extract had less severe symptoms and their symptoms lasted for less time.
2. Reduces Wrinkles. Elderberries contain high levels of vitamin A. The ANA claims that Elderberries may soothe the skin, prevent or lessen the appearance of wrinkles, and reduce the appearance of age spots.
3. Can Help With Weight Loss. Like most fruits, Elderberries are high in fiber. In a German study, participants who take elderberry juice enriched with elderberry flower and extracts saw significant improvements in weight regulation.
4. Improved Digestive Health. There is more research needing to be done here. However, elderberries are a great source of fiber and can help improve digestion. The fiber can help treat other digestive issues like bloating, gas, upset stomach, and constipation.
5. Improved Heart Health. Elderberries are rich in potassium, so they can help regulate blood pressure and ensure that the blood vessels are relaxed. High potassium diets have been found to reduce the strain on the heart. Studies have found that people taking high amounts of potassium (not excessive) had 49 percent less risk of death by ischemic heart disease. Some sources claim that elderberries can help regulate cholesterol levels and boost circulation. Elderberries contain beneficial compounds called anthocyanins. Anthocyanins protect the inner layer of blood vessels from oxidative stress. This protects the cells from inflammatory stressors, improves circulation and reduces the risk of heart disease.
6. Strengthen Bones. Elderberries contain potassium, iron, and calcium, which are known to strengthen bones, increase bone mineral density, and reduce the risk of osteoporosis. The anthocyanins may also prevent bone loss in certain. More studies need to be done, so you should consult your doctor before taking Elderberries for bone health.
7. Can Help Prevent Cancer. There are scientists from around the world who are testing the effectiveness of elderberries in cancer treatments, with some success. The success could be attributed to the quercetin in elderberries, which is known to stimulate the immune system and aid in treatment of cancer. Other studies found that elderberries could be a treatment for prostate cancer. This could be due to the berries inhibiting the hedgehog signaling, which is a biochemical process linked to cancer.
8. Helps Treat Diabetes. Studies suggest that elderberries can help lower blood sugar levels, and aiding with diabetes treatment. Research is limited, so it is recommended to speak with your doctor before changing treatments.
9. Improved Vision. Health Elderberries are rich in Vitamins A and B5, which can help prevent serious vision ailments including macular degeneration and glaucoma. The antioxidants in elderberries may also help improve a person’s vision health in the long run.
10. Fights Inflammation. There are a number of studies that talk about the anti-inflammatory properties of elderberries. The berries have even been used to treat eye inflammation. They also help fight oxidative stress, which helps reduce inflammation in the body.
11. Improved Hair and Skin Health. Along with helping reduce the look of wrinkles, Elderberries are also used as a detoxifying agent and helps treat and prevent acne, scars, and boils. This is due to the anthocyanins in the berries, which is the compounds that give the berries their color. Distilled elderberry flower water is used to lighten freckles and improved skin health. The fruit extract applied directly to the skin can also reduce bruising and inflammation. The elderflower oil can also be used to treat your hair. You just need to mix the elderflower oil with your other favorite oils that are safe to apply to the skin and apple to the problem areas of the scalp.
12. Improve Brain Health. One study found that anthocyanins in berries, including elderberries, can help treat cognitive impairments and resultant conditions like Alzheimer’s. Studies also found that Elderberries are replete with quercetin, which is an important flavonoid which is critical for brain health. Quercetin reduces harmful inflammation at the cellular level. It also activates mitochondria in the cells.
13. Helps Treat Urinary Tract Infections. There is very little research on this subject. There are certain sources that claim that elderberry juice can reduce inflammation in the urinary tract and treat urinary infections.
14. Allergy Relief. Elderberry’s anti-inflammatory and immune-stimulating properties make them a great natural remedy for allergy symptoms. Allergies cause inflammation of the sinuses, itchy, sneezing, watery eyes, swelling, and a stuffy or a runny nose. Elderberries are believed to be particularly good for people who suffer from hay fever because it strengthens the upper respiratory tract. Elderberries also have an anti-catarrhal action, which can help reduce congestion and runny nose caused by allergies.
Side Effects of Raw Elderberries
People can eat elderflowers cooked or raw. However, Elderberries need to be cooked to be safe to eat. Raw elderberries, seeds, leaves, and bark of the tree all contain a toxic substance that can cause diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea.
Elderberry Syrup Recipe
With cold and flu season right around the corner, it is time to start thinking about how you are going to treat the symptoms and protect yourself and family from these illnesses. Making Elderberry Syrup is not a complex process and only takes a few hours at the most. Some natural stores also sell premade Elderberry Syrup and other Elderberry products if you do not have the supplies to make your own. There are a variety of techniques that can be used to make elderberry syrup. This recipe is easy and the elderberry syrup can last up 3 months in the fridge.
Things you will need:
At Least 2/3 cup of Elderberries (Fresh or Frozen)
½ cup of Honey (Local, raw honey is recommended)
Potato Ricer or a Herb Press or Your Hands Fine Cheesecloth or Nut Milk Bag Glass Jar Mini Funnel for Bottling
Small Glass Bottles
Steps: 1. Clean the Elderberries and place them in a pot. Add 2 tbsp. or more water in the pot. Simmer until juicy. Remove from the heat and let the mixture cool until it is cool enough to be handled.
2. Line the glass jar with the cheesecloth or nut milk bag. Place the Potato Ricer on top.
3. Transfer Elderberries and juice into the Potato Ricer. The Elderberry Juice will drip through the nut milk bag into the glass jar.
4. Press the potato ricer to extract all the juices. If you are using your hands, you should really wear gloves because the elderberry juice can stain the skin.
5. Transfer the elderberry juice back into the pot and simmer to reduce the juices a bit. Remove the pot from the heat and let the liquid cool until it is lukewarm.
6. Add the Honey to the juices you have in the pot, and stir well.
7. Take the pot off the heat, and transfer the liquid with the funnel into the glass bottles. Let the liquid cool before using it. Store the Elderberry Syrup in the fridge and take a tablespoon daily for immune boosting properties.
Some recipes will also add ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, and other herbs that are known for their health benefits, to add a pleasant flavor to the syrup. You should use what you have available, and adjust the recipe so you enjoy the flavour. With all the benefits that Elderberries offer, it is definitely worth trying to incorporate elderberries into your diet. Even a tablespoon of Elderberry syrup can provide you with some of the many health benefits listed above. No matter if you make your own syrup or buy premade made syrup from your local health food or natural store, the bottom line is that elderberries are great for your overall health.