Since ancient times, herbs have been used as a natural remedy for a long list of diseases and viral infections are no exception. Because they have a unique concentration of powerful plant compounds, they can be of immense help for the treatment of viruses.
This is why so many natural health practitioners favor plants as remedies. However, as the healing properties of some herbs are only supported by limited research on humans, every natural remedy should be taken with a grain of salt.
Today, we will discuss one amazing and nutritious berry known as the elderberry. It’s a well-known berry used for jam, syrup, wine, etc., and has a tart, sharp, and refreshing taste.
These berries aren’t just delicious: they’re also good for your immunity, especially when you want to protect yourself from viruses.
New Evidence Emerges: Elderberry Protects Your Body from Viruses & the Flu
The black elder is a shrub that grows throughout Europe and North America. Its flowers and fruit are traditionally used to prepare seasonal jams and drinks. The elderberry harvests happen in late summer or early autumn when the fruit is ripe.
The harvesting time is crucial because unripe and uncooked elderberries can be toxic. This is because the shrub’s fresh leaves, bark, flowers, roots, and young buds have a bitter alkaloid and a glucoside which may produce a type of cyanide known as hydrocyanic acid in certain conditions.
Even though we need to be careful with elderberries, drinks, and desserts it remain a staple in cuisines worldwide. Also, plenty of people swear by these berries’s ability to strengthen the immune system and prevent diseases.
Why Are Elderberries Good for Your Immunity?
According to a study done by researchers at the University of Sydney, elderberries possess antiviral characteristics and can fight against viruses and infections.
One of the study’s co-authors, Golnoosh Torabian, Ph.D. explains that their study has shown the powerful and direct antiviral effect of elderberries against the flu virus.
It works by impeding the early stages of the infection via blockage of the key viral proteins that play a role in the viral attachment and entry into the cells.
What Did the Researchers Discover?
For the study, the team tested the effect of commercially farmed elderberries which they processed into a serum. The serum was administered at various stages of the influenza cycle, including before an infection with a flu virus and during the infection.
The team concluded that the phytochemicals (the natural substances of the elderberry serum) had a mild inhibitory effect shortly before the virus was about to infect a cell. But, when the cell was infected, the same chemicals had a major effect on stopping the propagation of the virus.
This observation was surprising and very important as blocking the viral cycle at different stages has a higher chance of impeding the viral infection, according to Peter Valtchev, Ph.D. and co-author of the study,
According to the study, the application of the elderberry solution also strengthened the reactions of the cells against the virus. They stimulated the release of certain cytokines. These are chemical messengers that the immunity uses to communicate between various cell types and create a more effective response against invading pathogens.
The study concluded that the antiviral abilities of elderberries happen thanks to anthocyanidins or plant pigments that they contain. Other research has found that anthocyanidins also possess antioxidant effects which means that they can keep the cells safe from damage.