Elderberry grabs attention as flu-fighter

Latest research shows that the common elderberry, which has been used for centuries to treat various conditions, can provide protection from cold and flu-like symptoms after long-haul flights.

According to lead author, Evelin Tiralongo, from Griffith University, a clinical trial showed that an elderberry supplement can provide protection to holidaymakers from cold and flu symptoms on long-haul flights. The holidaymakers were divided into active group and placebo group. The placebo group were not given elderberry as supplement, while the active group were given 300mg of standardised elderberry extract capsules. While the placebo group reported significant increase in cold episodes, with more symptoms, in active group it was not significant.


The clinical trial involved 312 economy class passengers travelling from Australia to overseas destination. The results were presented at Annual International Integrative Medicine Conference.

The elderberry extract was seen to be effective in working against respiratory bacteria and influenza viruses. Episodes of cold, duration of cold and symptoms of participants were recorded before, during and after travel.

Early this year too, there have been medical researches that suggest use of elderberry may reduce swelling in the mucous membranes and relieves congestion. This is because Elderberry contains chemicals which are flavonoids and anti-inflammatory agents. Several parents and paediatricians also believe that elderberry extract or syrup may help children stay healthy and lessen the symptoms when they get sick.

About Elderberry

Elderberries are small black-blue berries with a delicate tangy taste. They grow in cluster and are much in demand across the globe, mainly due to their immense health value. They are packed with antioxidants and will surely be the favourite of all when taken into account the following medicinal values too.

Medicinal values

  • ¬†Viral and bacterial infections: Due to the antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties of berries, elderberry juice is used as treatment for viral infections or bacterial infections. The diverse range of vitamins and minerals present in the extracts offer relief from ailments that arise from bacterial or viral infections. Respiratory illnesses like bronchitis and asthma can be effectively treated with a three-week course of diluted elderberry administered twice a day.
  • ¬†Urinary Tract Infections: Diluted elderberry can be administered for people with urinary tract infections. Elderberry juice has the ability to flush out toxins that accumulate around the urinary tract.
  • Immunity: Elderberry juice is excellent for building up the immune system, and hence, highly recommended for individuals with suppressed immune system.
  • Diabetes: Elderberry juice is used as treatment for diabetes. They have plenty of bioactive compounds and carb-degrading enzymes that help in absorption of carbohydrates, thereby controlling blood sugar levels. Hence, elderberry can even be considered as alternative treatment for blood sugar regulation.
  • Cancer: As Elderberries are loaded with antioxidants they have the ability to fight free radicals by minimizing the risk of life threatening diseases. The bioflavonoids in elderberry juice prevent cell damage and minimize risk of cancer.
  • Constipation: Elderberry juice has high fibre content, and hence is an excellent remedy for constipation. The ripe berries have diuretic properties, and the berry juice also acts as laxative.
  • Cold and flu: This ancient herbal remedy is foremost in treating common cold/sore throat, inflammation, asthma, influenza, sinusitis and bronchitis.
  • Kidney: When used in dried form, in tea, elderberry tea is also referred to as kidney tea as it increases urine output and helps eliminate excess water from the body.
  • Inflamed intestines: The elderberry jam is mildly laxative and helps in treating rheumatism.
  • Injuries/wounds: They are used in treating wounds, bruises and injuries. The leaves of Elderberry help in relieving pain and promote healing of injuries when applied as poultice
  • Elderberry is also an excellent skin tonic.

How to use:

For infusion: Put 2gm to 5gm of dried flowers into a cup of boiling water and infuse for 5 to 10min. do not strain and drink thrice a day.
Tincture: Take 20 drops in a glass of water, and consume thrice a day after meals.

Mouthwash: Boil water and add 50g of flowers and boil for 5 minutes. Allow to cool. This can be used as gargle or mouthwash four to six times a day, and is good for sore throat, inflamed gums and other such issues.

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