It’s that time again: cold and flu season. Though my kids and I all got vaccinated, I know nothing is 100%. In fact, seasonal flu vaccines, according to the DCD, are designed to protect only against the “most likely” flu strains for this season. And, of course, it does nothing to ward off the more than 200 viruses that cause the common cold.
So what’s a person to do? How can you stack the odds in your favor so that you don’t end up bed ridden for days, moaning and wailing in a cold sweat, unable to breathe, think or function?
You already know the obvious stuff: wash your hands, take your multivitamin and get eight hours of shut-eye each night. But I’m here to tell you about another powerful tool you can add to your immune-boosting arsenal: black elderberry extract.
What the heck is black elderberry extract? Sounds like a poison elixir the evil Queen would slip to Snow White to rid the land of the fairest one of all.
I assure you it’s not. Just the opposite, in fact. With its antiviral, immune-supporting properties, black elderberry extract has been clinically proven to ward off viruses and significantly minimize symptoms of the flu, including sore throat, cough, fever and headaches.
What exactly is black elderberry, anyway?
Let’s start with the basics. Black elderberry is a dark blue/purple berry that comes from the native North American and European elderberry shrub. Widely know as one of the most revered of all herbs, elderberry has been used for centuries to treat more than 70 maladies—from simple ailments like stress relief to deadly ones like the plague. In fact, Hippocrates, the ancient Greek known as the “father of medicine,” referred to elderberry as his “medicine chest.”
How does it work?
Elderberry is extremely rich in flavonoids (a groups of compounds with beneficial antioxidant effects). But it’s the specific type of flavonoid—the anthocyanins—that makes elderberry special. Anthocyanins are thought to boost the production of cytokines. Cytokines alert the body when increased immune response is required; they send T-Cells into battle against infection.
Elderberry is such a powerful antioxidant, in fact, that the United States Department of Agriculture gives it an ORAC score (a measure of antioxidant levels in food) of more than double that of blueberries.
In support of elderberry:
While the medical community is often reluctant to promote the use of herbal remedies in the treatment of medical conditions, elderberry seems to be one that is recognized by holistic practitioners and medical doctors alike. Numerous studies have been conducted proving the efficacy of this power supplement. One study (1995 – Zakay-Rones) revealed that 90% of those infected with the flu virus who were given elderberry extract were completely cured within two to three days, as opposed to six days in the control group. And another study (2005 – Balasingham) found elderberry extract to be at least 99% effective against the Avian Bird Flu. There are many more where those came from, but I think you get the gist. It works; science tells us so.
Where do you find it?
Black elderberry extract has become so mainstream that most local pharmacies carry it. You can buy it in the form of a syrup-like liquid extract (which is totally yum), chewable tablets (also quite tasty) or small easy-to-swallow capsules. If you can’t find it at your pharmacy or local health food store, look online at sites like amazon.com.
As for me, I take elderberry in one shape or form every day. Since I started with it a few years ago I’ve noticed I get fewer colds—and when I do, I’m only down and out for a day or two, as opposed to the three or four days it used to take me to recover.
I’ve recently started mixing the syrup into my fruit smoothies, which adds a smooth sweetness and a rich, dark color. It’s good to take as a preventative measure, but if you’re not keen on the idea of a daily dose, you can just take it at the first sign of a cold or flu. Oh yeah, and my kids love it, too.
photo source: freedigitalphotos.net
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