Monday, January 14, 2013

Keeping the Flu at Bay with Elderberry

Since the cold and flu season is currently in full swing, I've been asked repeatedly, "What can I do to protect myself and my family from getting sick?"  Not that this will save me from repeating myself several times a day, but I thought it fitting to write about just one remedy that has been gaining national attention of late: Elderberry (Sambucus nigra). It grows naturally in the warmer parts of Europe and North America.  There are several different species, however it is the Sambucus nigra that is most often used in herbalism.
Wines, cordials, and marmalades have historically been made from both the berries and flowers of the Elder. Elderberries along with their flowers have also long been used in traditional European medicine to treat fever, joint pain, and as a cure for colds and the flu! I recently put together an herbal blend from an old Romani recipe that goes back hundreds of years - if not further - in which one of the primary herbs is Elder flowers.

Researchers have clinically proven that Elderberries are as effective against eight strains of influenza as the Tamiflu shots!! Yes, you read it right. "As effective".  Elderberry can prevent infection and shorten recovery times, if you do get sick. Not only is it believed that Elderberry is superior to vaccines at preventing the flu, but it doesn't have any of the side effects that the vaccines do, namely death.  For me, as with most moms, that is a huge plus on the Elderberry column.

In my home Elderberry elixir is an absolute must to have on hand every winter.  We take it daily to prevent colds and the flu. It's so tasty, even The Bear loves it and I have to promise him he can have more tomorrow just to get him to stop asking for it! So, how do they work their magick, these precious and delicious berries?  Well, studies indicate that Elderberry actually appears to disarm the neuraminidase-coated (an enzyme which breaks down healthy cell walls) spikes that the flu viruses use to puncture and invade your cells. They actually inhibit the action of this enzyme — thus preventing flu viruses from invading further cells. Rather potent, no?

By adding a daily prophylactic dose of a high quality Elderberry elixir or syrup to your daily health routine, you would be going a long way towards preventing colds and flu this winter. Of course, even if you do get sick, Elderberry is still your best friend when it comes to ousting those nasty bugs from your system. Get this: clinical trials  took place in Israel in the middle of a flu epidemic in 1992-93 on patients who were displaying full-blown flu symptoms. Half of them were given Elderberry extract and half received a placebo. Within 48 hours 75% of the patients who had been given Elderberry were symptom free and within 72 hours 90% were symptom-free. Only 16% of the patients who got the placebos showed any improvement after two days, and the rest took at least six days to recover.

So, what does this all mean for you? Well, I'm no statistician, but I'd say it means that taking Elderberry to prevent the flu or to help you get rid of an outbreak is pretty much a no-brainer.

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