Elderberries are dark violet, almost black-appearing stone fruits that grow in clusters in temperate to subtropical regions of the earth. Their rich color is due to anthocyanins—a class of phenolic compounds. Among flavonoids, anthocyanins are highly concentrated in elderberries and are thought to be the active constituents of the fruit (Mikulic-Petkovsek et al., 2015). Elderberries also contain a host of vitamins (A, B1, B2, B6, B9, C, and E), minerals (potassium, calcium, and magnesium), trace elements (copper, zinc, and iron), and phytochemicals (carotenoids, phytosterols, and polyphenols) (Tiralongo, Wee, & Lea, 2016).
In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial, Tiralongo and colleagues (2016) investigated whether or not a standardized elderberry extract could provide beneficial effects on respiratory and mental health.
In this study, black elderberry (Sambucus nigra L.; Haschberg variety from the Steiermark region in Austria) was chosen because it was previously found to demonstrate antimicrobial activity against human respiratory pathogens (gram-positive bacteria of Streptococcus pyogenes, groups C and G Streptococci, and gram-negative bacterium Branhamella catarrhalis), and be an inhibitor of the propagation of human pathogenic influenza viruses (Krawitz et al., 2011).
The exact extract was produced by Iprona AG, Lana (BZ), Italy (under the brand name BerryPharma), and contained 300mg of elderberry extract: 22% polyphenols (quercetin and its glycosides, rutin), 15% anthocyanins (cyanidin and pelargonidin glycosides), 150mg of rice flour, and several mineral, trace elements, and vitamins. Further research is needed to assess the range of elderberry's effect on cold duration and severity and mental health proposed benefits.
One of the distinctions of the Tiralongo et al. study that conducted an RCT of a standardized, proprietary preparation of elderberry is that the researchers took the time not only to standardize the dose (300mg of elderberry per dose) but also to standardize the polyphenol and anthocyanin content (22% and 15%, respectively).
This does not necessarily mean that a different preparation of 300mg of elderberry extract does not contain anthocyanins and polyphenols or would not be as effective, but it does suggest that using the proprietary product would give the consumer a lab-verified and researched dose of anthocyanins and polyphenols that was shown to have a documented, statistically significant clinical effect.
Treatment with elderberry fruit extracts is very well-tolerated. No adverse events related to elderberry have been reported in clinical trials in children or adults using specific extracts, including BerryPharma, Iprona AG, Sambucol, Nature's Way, and ViraBLOC, Herbal Science. (Zakay-Rones et al., 1995; Zakay-Rones, Thom, Wollan, & Wadstein, 2004; Kong, 2009; Tiralongo, Wee, & Lea, 2016).
Many people cannot afford to take time off work, even when they are sick, so being able to use elderberry can be beneficial for them.
Dr. Bhandari and the Advanced Health Team Are Here to Support Your Health During the Winter Months.
Our expert team of integrative holistic practitioners work with patients suffering from chronic health concerns. We help them reverse disease by better understanding how the body optimally functions. We are always ready to share our expertise. To book an appointment, contact Advanced Health or call 1-415-506-9393.
Gray, A. M., Abdel-Wahab, Y. H., & Flatt, P. R. (2000). The traditional plant treatment, Sambucus nigra (elder), exhibits insulin-like and insulin-releasing actions in vitro. The Journal of nutrition, 130(1), 15-20. Retrieved from: https://uws.idm.oclc.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=mdc&AN=10613759&site=eds-live&scope=site
Krawitz, C., Mraheil, M. A., Stein, M., Imirzalioglu, C., Domann, E., Pleschka, S., & Hain, T. (2011). 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, 11(1), 16. Retrieved from: https://bmccomplementalternmed.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1472-6882-11-16
Mahmoudi, M., Ebrahimzadeh, M. A., Dooshan, A., Arimi, A., Ghasemi, N., & Fathiazad, F. (2014). Antidepressant activities of Sambucus ebulus and Sambucus nigra. European review for medical and pharmacological sciences, 18(22), 3350-3353. Retrieved from: www.europeanreview.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/3350-3353.pdf
Mikulic-Petkovsek, M., Ivancic, A., Todorovic, B., Veberic, R., & Stampar, F. (2015). Fruit phenolic composition of different elderberry species and hybrids. Journal of food science, 80(10), C2180-C2190. Retrieved from: https://uws.idm.oclc.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=mdc&AN=26409176&site=eds-live&scope=site
Rauš, K., Pleschka, S., Klein, P., Schoop, R., & Fisher, P. (2015). Effect of an Echinacea-based hot drink versus oseltamivir in influenza treatment: a randomized, double-blind, double-dummy, multicenter, noninferiority clinical trial. Current Therapeutic Research, 77, 66-72. Retrieved from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0011393X15000053
Roxas, M., & Jurenka, J. (2007). Colds and influenza: a review of diagnosis and conventional, botanical, and nutritional considerations. Alternative Medicine Review, 12(1). Retrieved from: https://uws.idm.oclc.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=edsgao&AN=edsgcl.163199250&site=eds-live&scope=site
Zakay-Rones, Z., Thom, E., Wollan, T., & Wadstein, J. (2004). Randomized study of the efficacy and safety of oral elderberry extract in the treatment of influenza A and B virus infections. Journal of International Medical Research, 32(2), 132-140. Retrieved from: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/147323000403200205
Zakay-Rones, Z., Varsano, N., Zlotnik, M., Manor, O., Regev, L., Schlesinger, M., & Mumcuoglu, M. (1995). Inhibition of several strains of influenza virus in vitro and reduction of symptoms by an elderberry extract (Sambucus nigra L.) during an outbreak of influenza B Panama. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 1(4), 361-369. Retrieved from: https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Inhibition-of-several-strains-of-influenza-virus-in-Zakay-Rones-Varsano/20459f1db0c5903844884c23e3dcee8f409c962f