When it comes to daily health, you always want to support your body with the very best nutrients. This includes — but is certainly not limited to — the latest and greatest clinically studied botanicals. However, sometimes it’s the wisdom of centuries that offer us the best approach to our health. That’s why the idea of turning to a berry that has been used for thousands of years may make good sense. And one very special berry has stood the test of time: the Elderberry!
Although this legendary botanical has been used around the globe for generations, it has only recently become popular in the United States. In fact, the popularity of this venerable botanical has skyrocketed in recent years due to effective marketing strategies that focus on its immune-supporting properties.
Thousands of years ago, the ancient Greek physician, Hippocrates, used Elderberry as a remedy in his burgeoning medical practice. He even referred to Elderberry as his “medicine chest.” The man whom many refer to as the “Father of Medicine” was not alone. Other distinguished figures, including such ancient pioneers in the medical arts as Theophrastus, Dioscorides, and Galen, considered the Elderberry one of nature’s greatest healing foods.
The Elderberry plant is largely distributed throughout the world. One common type, Sambacus nigra, is known as the European Elderberry. While this tree is native to Europe, you’ll notice its presence all around the world now, including North America.
Elderberry owns a rich history as a storied botanical with many uses. Although various historical figures considered it to be a Swiss Army Knife for healing purposes, modern science gives us a better understanding of what this berry is actually capable of. So, while it may not be your one-stop shop for supporting every aspect of your health, clinical studies have shown that Elderberry supports a surprising number of functions in our bodies.
The Immune Health Berry
An investigative approach published in the Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology considered colorful anthocyanins the most recognized, visible members of the bioflavonoid phytochemicals. These colorful anthocyanin pigments act as free radical scavengers and antioxidant promoters. Furthermore, research has shown that anthocyanin-rich plants may support DNA health and enzyme regulation, along with the ability to regulate immune cell response.
The key takeaway from this excerpt is that anthocyanin and anthocyanin-rich mixtures of bioflavonoids may be involved in the process that boosts the production of cell supporting proteins that help regulate immune response. And Elderberries are loaded with anthocyanins! In other words, Elderberries are a natural way to boost immune system response, no matter what time of year it is.
Elderberries’ Antioxidant Protection Power
Aside from immune health, the production of antioxidants is perhaps the top benefit most closely associated with Elderberry. This should come as no surprise, as many of us prioritize the healthy aging benefits of fighting off oxidative stress.
Our bodies need protection from free radicals — the pesky unstable molecules that can build up in our cells and tissue every day. If left unchecked, free radicals can attack our bodies in a deleterious process that wears down our skin, heart, brain, and joints — just to name a few.
Oxidative stress is caused by numerous factors such as pollution, poor diet, environmental toxins, and even excessive exercise. While this may be a cause for concern, there are ways to protect your body from oxidative stress.
Significant discoveries have revealed that Elderberries are rich in heart-protecting, vision-enhancing, cell-defending, stress-reducing purple pigments, as noted by Chris Kilham, the world-travelling Medicine Hunter®. These purple pigments, or anthocyanins, have been placed under microscope in studies conducted in Germany, Austria, and Italy.
Chris Kilham states that the purple anthocyanins found in Elderberries work as antioxidative compounds to protect our cells and tissue against oxidative stress.
More Than Just An Immunity-Boosting Berry
According to Kilham, Elderberry is exceptionally versatile, going beyond its traditional use for winter-time immune support. In fact, research has shown that this purple marvel can support your heart and reduce stress as well. As the Medicine Hunter® himself puts it, Elderberry is a potent source of powerful pigments that can “put punch into your physique.”
The Best Sources of Elderberry
As mentioned, Elderberry is grown all throughout the world. While Sambacus nigra is viewed as a popular type of Elderberry in Europe, Sambucus var. canadensis is common in the United States. This particular plant features beautiful white flowers with eye-catching dark purple berries.
When handled properly, ripe Elderberries are sweet and juicy. They are usually cooked for enhanced flavor and featured in a variety of foods including jam and jelly, pie and cobbler, and syrup. And for those who prefer other options, it is not uncommon to add fresh Elderberry to your juice, tea, and even wine.
On the other hand, Elderberry is featured in dietary supplements as well. It is important to note that Black Elderberry (Sambacus nigra) is usually the type of berry featured in dietary supplements. This specific type of Elderberry is native to Europe and has seen an uptick in popularity in recent years.
Although dietary supplements containing Elderberry are flying off the shelves, not all are from traceable and trusted sources that undergo TRU-ID® farm-to-finish fingerprint testing. In fact, recent testing has shown that too many Elderberry products are coming from adulterated sources. Keep this in mind the next time you plan to purchase a supplement with Elderberry. In other words, be sure it comes from a trusted source that can track the origins of the berry from plant to supplement. However, this is no easy task – it is quite difficult to get your hands on fully traceable, farm-to table elderberry. There are too many Elderberry products out there that are not what they claim to be, especially when it comes to purity and potency.
The Last Word On Elderberries
Elderberry has experienced a rise in popularity due in part to influential marketing. Although this particular botanical has arguably never seen more hype in its storied history than it has in recent years, it is still a good idea to refer to clinical studies before purchasing dietary supplements that contain Elderberry. This said, the clinical evidence is starting to catch up to the hype surrounding Elderberry. The bottom line: Elderberry has a bright future, so be sure to keep a keen eye on further clinical evidence.