Health officials are looking at alternative therapies that may help people keep from getting the flu, or if they do get sick, reduce the severity and duration of the disease. Building immune strength is an important aspect – rest, nutritious foods, lowering stress and cleanliness can make a big difference. Certain immune boosting supplements can also help. But there is one herb that is highly recommended in regards to the flu: Elderberry, or Sambucus Nigra.
In 1992, a team of Israeli scientists studied the effect of elderberry on flu patients. During a flu epidemic at an Israeli Kibbutz, half of the flu patients were given an elderberry syrup, the other half a placebo. The results: within 24 hours, 20% of the patients receiving elderberry had gotten significantly better. Within two days, 75% of the elderberry group were much improved; within 3 days 90% were completely cured.
Among the placebo group, only 8% of patients improved within 24 hours and it was a full 6 days before 90% of the patients were cured.
New Research Supports Ancient Remedy
A new, Norwegian study involved 60 patients who had been suffering with flu symptoms for 48 hours or less; 90% were infected with the A strain of the virus, 10% were infected with type B. Half the group took 15 milliliters of Elderberry syrup and the other group took a placebo four times a day for five days.
Patients in the Elderberry group had “pronounced improvements” in flu symptoms after three days: Nearly 90% of patients had complete cure within two to three days. The placebo group didn’t recover until at least day six; they also took more painkillers and nasal sprays.
ELDERBERRY WORKS — Here’s How
Flu viruses are primitive organisms which cannot replicate themselves. They must use DNA from living cells in order to reproduce. Flu viruses invade cells by puncturing the cell walls with little spikes called hemagglutinin. These spikes are coated with an enzyme called neuraminidase, which helps break down the cell walls. Elderberry appears to actually disarm these spikes and inhibit the action of this enzyme — thus preventing flu viruses from invading cells. Elderberry also appears to activate the immune system. In an Israeli study published in 2001, Elderberry dramatically increased production of cytokines, a form of antibody. RESEARCH CONTINUES
Flu outbreaks are characterized by their epidemic nature. 40% of a population may be victims of the flu during a 5-6 week period. Although vaccinations offer some protection, they are often ineffective, and, as is the case this year, are not always available. As many as half of those vaccinated may suffer complications, and the wily flu viruses can have varied structures that are not affected by the antibodies produced in response to the vaccine.
Elderberry, on the other hand, is safe, natural, and appears to work against a wide variety of flu viruses. In addition to clinical studies, laboratory experiments show that elderberry neutralizes flu viruses in petri dishes and cures the flu in mice. This indicates that elderberry may also help prevent the flu from taking hold. Best results are obtained when elderberry is taken at the onset of flu symptoms. So don’t delay. Stock your medicine cabinet. Research shows that beginning elderberry supplementation as soon as flu symptoms appear can provide significant defense.