Elderberry and treating the flu
In a placebo-controlled, double-blind study, elderberry was shown to be effective for treating Influenza B. People using the elderberry extract recovered much faster than those only on a placebo. The study was published in the Journal of Alternative Complementary Medicine.
A small study published in 2004 showed that 93% of flu patients given extract were completely symptom-free within two days; those taking a placebo recovered in about six days. This current study shows that, indeed, it works for type A flu, reports lead researcher Erling Thom, with the University of Oslo in Norway.
Thom’s findings were presented at the 15th Annual Conference on Antiviral Research.
The 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 extract and the other group took a placebo four times a day for five days.
Patients in the extract group had “pronounced improvements” in flu symptoms after three days: nearly 90% of patients had complete cure within two to three days. Also, the extract group had no drowsiness, the downside of many flu treatments. The placebo group didn’t recover until at least day six; they also took more painkillers and nasal sprays.
It’s likely that antioxidants called flavonoids—which are contained in the extract—stimulate the immune system, writes Thom. Also, other compounds in elderberry, called anthocyanins, have an anti-inflammatory effect; this could explain the effect on aches, pains, and fever.
Elderberry extract could be an “efficient and safe treatment” for flu symptoms in otherwise healthy people and for those with compromised immune systems, such as the elderly, Thom adds.
Russell Greenfield, MD, a leading practitioner of integrative medicine and medical director of Carolinas Integrative Health, advocates treating flu with black elderberry, he says in a news release. “It can be given to children and adults, and with no known side effects or negative interactions,” he says.
“But don’t expect grandma’s elderberry jam” to ease flu symptoms like body aches, cough, and fever, he warns. “Extract is the only black elderberry preparation shown effective in clinical studies.”
More on the Flu: Vitamin D and Elderberry
Vitamin D has been in the news a great deal lately. Last year the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) started a study investigating the role of vitamin D in severe seasonal influenza. With the recent outbreaks of swine flu, PHAC confirmed that it would be adapting this study to investigate the role of vitamin D in the protection against swine flu. PHAC will measure vitamin D levels in the blood of H1N1 patients and compare the blood levels with uninfected individuals. The rationale behind this study is based on earlier work in the 1940’s that indicated mice on diets low in vitamin D were more susceptible to experimental swine flu infection than those with adequate vitamin D levels (Young, et al., Vitamin D intake and susceptibility of mice to experimental swine influenza virus infection. Proc Soc Exp Biol Med. 1949 Dec;72(3):695-7.) How vitamin D might protect against influenza infection is not fully understood. However, research suggests that vitamin D may induce the production of antimicrobial substances in the body that may possess neutralizing activity against a variety of infectious agents including influenza virus.
It is interesting information and something to consider as we approach this year’s cold and flu season. Low and deficient vitamin D levels are highly prevalent in people who avoid sun exposure due to health concerns or cultural traditions, use sunscreen, have dark skin, or live in northern latitudes. Recommended optimum blood levels of vitamin D are greater than 50 and as high as 80 ng/ml 25(OH)D.
Nick’s comments: In past emails I have suggested Vitamin D supplementation should be at least 1000-2000IU daily in the form of D3
Using this same line of thought, elderberry flavonoids were shown to bind to and prevent H1N1 infection in vitro in a study published this July 2009. The study established that flavonoids from the elderberry extract bind to H1N1 virions and, when bound, block the ability of the viruses to in fect host cells. The authors also stated that the H1N1 inhibition activities of the elderberry flavonoids compare favorably to the known anti-influenza activities of Oseltamivir (Tamiflu; 0.32 microM) and Amantadine (27 microM). (Phytochemistry. 2009 Jul;70(10):1255-61. Epub 2009 Aug 12.)
Also see my past email on Colloidal Silver which is an effective treatment for all sorts of infections
Another great remedy for colds and flu in Yin Qiao San or Ilex 15. I have used these in the past at the first sign of getting sick. I usually take double or triple the recommended dose initially. My symptoms usually subside and when they start to come back I repeat the dose. I only have to do this three or four times to be free of all symptoms. Yin Qiao can be purchased at Emerson Ecologics (see link at the top of the page) I have Ilex 15 here.
Elderberry products, Vitamin D, Yin Qiao San and Argentyn 23 (colloidal silver) can be found by using the link below. I suggest buying and having these products on hand so that if you get sick you can “nip it in the bud”