Elderberry

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Elderberry
  Evaluated for:
Effectiveness Rating Effectiveness Rating
Upper respiratory infections, including influenza Herpes simplex viral infections
0 (Effectiveness Unclear)

PRO

  • Elderberry is derived from a tall bush called Sambucus nigra.  Only the flowers and ripe berries are used for medicinal purposes.
  • Elderberry is considered to have antiviral properties that fight upper respiratory infections, influenza, and bronchitis.  It may inhibit replication of influenza A and B, as well as herpes simplex virus-1. 
  • Elderberry contains flavonoids, which act as antioxidants and are considered to have immune-system boosting properties.

CON

  • The bark of the elderberry has been used as a diuretic, laxative, and emetic (induces vomiting).
  • The bark, leaves, seeds and unripe berries (but not the flowers) contain a cyanide-like compound that is potentially toxic. Cyanide poisoning from bark, root, leaves or juice may induce tachycardia (rapid heart rate) and cause serious long-term effects.
  • In the well-conducted human clinical trials currently available regarding the use of the flowers of ripe elderberries, evidence to recommend its therapeutic use was not definitive.

* *ADVISORY* *
The therapeutic benefits of elderberry are derived from the flowers and ripe berries only. The bark, roots, leaves, seeds, and unripe fruit have no therapeutic value and may be toxic.

CONCLUSION: We conclude that while elderberry shows promise for treating upper-respiratory and anti-viral infections, there is not enough definitive evidence to support its use for these indications. If you do elect to try it, please discuss your decision with your doctor, and observe carefully for any changes to your health.

REFERENCES
“Elder.” Natural Standard –The Authority on Integrative Medicine. Natural Standard, 2013.
“Elderberry.” Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. Therapeutic Research Faculty, 2013. 8 November 2013.
Hasani-Ranjbar, S. et al. A systematic review of the efficacy and safety of herbal medicines used in the treatment of obesity. World Journal of Gastroenterology (2009) 15(25):3073-3085
Vlachojannis, J.E. et al. A Systematic Review on the Sambuci fructus Effect and Efficacy Profiles. Phytotherapy Research (2010) 24:1-8
Frank, T. et al. Absorption and Excretion of Elderberry (Sambucus nigra L.) Anthocyanins in Healthy Humans. Methods Find Exp Clin Pharmacol (2007) 29(8): 525-533
Hwang, B. et al. Antifungal activity of lariciresinol derived from Sambucus williamsii and their membrane-active mechanisms in Candida albicans. Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications (2011) 410, 489-493
Glatthaar-Saalmuller, B. et al. Antiviral activity in vitro of two preparations of the herbal medicinal product Sinupret® against viruses causing respiratory infections. Phytomedicine (2011) 19, 1-7
Xiao, H. et al. Bone-protective effects of bioactive fractions and ingredients in Sambucus williamsii HANCE. British Journal of Nutrition (2011) 106, 1802-1809
Curtis, P. et al. Cardiovascular Disease Risk Biomarkers and Liver and Kidney Function Are Not Altered in Postmenopausal Women after Ingesting an Elderberry Extract Rich in Anthocyanins for 12 Weeks. The Journal of Nutrition (2009) 139: 2266-2271
Guo, R. et al. Complementary Medicine for Treating or Preventing Influenza or Influenza-like Illness. The Journal of Medicine (2007) 120, 923-929
Roschek, B. et al. Elderberry flavonoids bind to and prevent H1N1 infection in vitro. Phytochemistry (2009) 70, 1255-1261
Krawitz, C. et al. Inhibitory activity of a standardized elderberry liquid extract against clinically-relevant human respiratory bacterial pathogens and influenza A and B viruses. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine (2011) 11:16


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