Tuesday, September 1, 2009


I've spent the last couple of mornings in my kitchen squishing elderberries.
As my shoulders and arms get tired and I look down to see my lovely purple hands, clothes, sink, counters, etc., I begin to question myself on the intelligence of such an endeavour.
Really, what's so great about these little buggers afterall?! They look like caviar on a stick!
Wouldn't it be easier to grab a box of chocolates and go curl up on the couch with a good book?

Oh you betcha!

But I have personally seen the results of using elderberry in my family. Beside being a berry growing in abundance (free food!) all around here, it makes nice tasty jams and syrups. But the real kicker, and why I have spent so many hours in my kitchen squishing the little buggers is the effect I have seen elderberry have on viruses.
We see the panic in the media right now about the upcoming flu season and the threat of the swine flu--everyone running around trying to get a vaccine together and waiting for the fights to break out over who gets to be first in line and who gets left out in the cold.
I think back to a blurb I read in (of all things!) the LA Times last year...

Elderberry's mixed record

"February 18, 2008

ELDERBERRIES may make delicious, if uncommon, jams and pies -- but the jury's still out on whether they can cure the flu.

The number of proprietary elderberry products on the market has slowly grown in recent years, particularly in Europe. The berries contain high levels of vitamin C and flavonoids, plant pigment compounds that have shown antimicrobial activity in the lab. In the 1990s, Israeli researchers produced findings suggesting that the plant fought germs in humans too.

In one study, published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine in 1995, people living in an Israeli commune during a flu outbreak in 1993 were given either four tablespoons of a proprietary elderberry extract, Sambucol, or the same amount of a placebo syrup daily for three days. Both groups came down with the flu -- but those who took the elderberry product recovered within two days, while the others recovered in six.

In 1999, the researchers tested the product during a flu outbreak in Norway. This time, the elderberry-treated group recovered in half the time it took the placebo group to recover: three to four days compared with seven to eight. The results were published in the Journal of International Medical Research in 2004.

In the U.S., Sambucol is sold in stores by supplement maker Nature's Way. A number of copycat elderberry products are appearing on shelves, claiming that elderberry coats flu viruses to stop them from infecting cells. But there's no evidence to back this up, and only Sambucol's patented formula has been put to the test.

Though Sambucol touts itself as an immune booster (the company's promotional materials suggest taking it daily), it's only been studied in outbreaks, and there's no evidence that it can prevent flu infection."

I find it funny that our researchers turn their noses up because elderberry isn't actually "curing" the flu. It only cuts the duration of the flu in half. But it doesn't cure it so bleh. Um, yeah. There's such a wealth of drug products on the market that lessen the duration of the flu...
Gotta love 'em!
I have seen elderberry clear the Epstein-Barr virus from my son after he had a chronic infection with it post-transplant.
Last winter we braced for the flu season as it seems like all the kids at school are virus-ridden all through the winter months out here. My kids went off to school with their little brown-bag lunches containing their peanut butter and ELDERBERRY jelly sandwich. When the kids got home, if they showed even the tinest sign of sniffles or watery eyes or redness in the skin, they got a good dose of elderberry concentrate as well.
It was interesting to see all the children around my kids dropping like flies to every little illness that came along while my kids were ticked because they had to keep going to school and didn't get to be sick.
Even my son who takes drugs to suppress his immune system stayed strong and healthy while half his class was out sick for almost a week.
A couple of times the kids did start to run fevers. I would never say elderberry is a cure or a miracle potion. But at first sign of illness, the kiddos got dosed heavily and were recovered within a day or two.
Personally, at first sign of a sore throat or just not feeling "right" I start dosing and often that is the extent of the illness and I can keep going and functioning like a mom needs to. This is much better and certainly different from years previous before I began using elderberry in my family.
Well, I got get back to my squishing now, but the next time you get the sniffles, or your throat feels a little scratchy you might just wish you lived in Missouri down the street from elderberry row! ;)

Oh, and for you smart people who do live in Missouri and can get your hands on the elderberries, here's a whole list of things you can do with them:
"What To Do With Elderberries"

1 comment:

  1. Just a quick note- Sambucol is not produced by Natures Way - they are one of the copycat products you mention (sambucus). Be sure to get the original Sambucol - the only one used in the studies.