Treating Influenza with Elderberries

We commonly refer to flu as influenza and it’s a highly contagious illness caused by the RNA viruses. Flu may potentially become a deadly disease, causing about 35,000 deaths annually due to improper treatments and complications. Symptoms of flu may worsen and they can develop into pneumonia, which affects chronically ill individuals, elderly and younger children. While healthy people very rarely die from influenza, symptoms like fever, respiratory problems, muscle aches and headaches could make our life miserable. Studies show that we proper treatment, the peak duration of influenza symptoms can be cut to a third.

Elderberry lozenges may reduce fever and boost immune system when combined with enough rest and adequate hydration. Scientific studies found that elderberry lozenges could significantly relieve fever and headache within 24 hours, while placebo recipients experience worse symptoms. While there’s no real cure for common cold, elderberry-based medications could be one of effective remedies. Chemicals inside the lozenges could bind to the influenza viruses, rendering them incapable of infecting the host cells, slowing down or even reversing the progression of symptoms. Elderberry contains flavonoids, important antioxidants that can stimulate our immune system. They are also good anti-inflammatory agents that reduce fever and pain. Online journals have published scientific findings that elderberry can block influenza virus, while reducing flu symptoms.

Elderberry is native to eastern and central North America; the trees line the roadsides in some parts of the United States. It is packed with anthocyanin, Vitamin A, Vitamin C and Vitamin B6. Native Americans have been using them to treat fevers, sore throats, common cold and even rheumatism.  There are now hundreds of products with elderberries as one of the ingredients. Not only the fruits can be turned to jelly or pies, elderberries can also be frozen and canned.

Elderberries are particularly effective as cough syrup for treating common cold; but consumers should avoid products that contain too many other unnecessary ingredients, such as gelatin, caffeine and high-fructose corn syrup. It may be a good idea to choose honey-based elderberry cough syrup; which could be available in local farmer markets.

Raw elderberries may not be appealing to our taste buds, due to their tartness and the presence of tiny seeds. To appreciate their flavors, elderberries must be boiled with three cups of water for every one cup of elderberries. After the cooked berries are simmered for an hour, they are smashed and strained with cheesecloth. To improve the taste, some honey can be added to the juice.