If you’ve managed to escape a heavy cold or flu so far this winter – don’t think you’re out of the danger zone just yet!
We are now entering the peak season for influenza and other respiratory infections, and people who have managed to evade the troublesome viruses through the autumn and early winter are most vulnerable, as they may not have built up sufficient immunity yet.
But don’t fret. Researchers have just discovered an astonishing natural influenza treatment derived from black elderberry that can stop these troublesome viruses in their tracks. And, as a bonus, you won’t need the antibiotics that far too many doctors now automatically prescribe for flu victims, albeit in the full knowledge that they have no impact on viruses.
Although antibiotics safeguard against secondary bacterial infection, they also have the detrimental effect of disrupting the delicate balance of your intestinal flora (‘good bacteria’), which can compromise your health for weeks after the initial illness. In contrast, black elderberry (Sambucus nigra L) – one of nature’s oldest remedies – has been shown to be effective for both preventing and treating cold and flu viruses, with no harmful side-effects.
Black Elderberry: From alleviating fevers to encouraging wounds to heal
The health-giving properties of black elderberry have been documented as far back as the 5th century and it was favoured by Hippocrates – the father of modern medicine. The berries were extolled as an all-round panacea, due to their tonic and blood purifying properties.
Traditionally enjoyed in the form of wine or preserves, the berries epitomise Hippocrates’ holistic ethos: ‘Let food be thy medicine and medicine thy food’.
Native Americans used the plant to treat rheumatism and fever. Black elderberry’s ability to reduce fever is due to its diaphoretic (sweat-inducing) properties. And the leaves of the plant were employed for pain relief and applied to wounds to promote healing.
Black Elderberry: 90% of flu victims made a complete recovery in just three days!
Now a double-blind clinical trial at the Department of Virology, Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School in Jerusalem, has provided evidence to back up Hippocrates’ belief in the power of elderberries.
The trial showed that a standardised extract of black elderberry, known as Sambucol, is an effective treatment for the influenza virus. After just two days, more than 93 per cent of those who took the Sambucol showed a significant reduction in symptoms, while almost all (90 per cent) of those taking Sambucol had recovered after just three days.1
In comparison, it took 92 per cent of the placebo group more than six days to feel even a slight improvement.
World-renowned virologist, Dr Madeleine Mumcuoglu and her team, measured the presence of influenza antibodies in the two groups. The subjects in the Sambucol group were found to have a higher level of antibodies than those receiving the placebo, confirming an enhanced immune response in those patients.
Black Elderberry: Potent AntiVirins can substantially reduce virus-inflicted damage
It was during work for her Ph.D thesis that Dr Mumcuoglu isolated key active compounds from black elderberry extract known as AntiVirins. Based on common plant chemicals, bioflavonoids, these agents have the ability to protect cells from virus invasion, thereby preventing the spread of the infection through your body.
Unlike bacteria, a virus cannot replicate on its own. In order to survive it must attack living cells. It does this by puncturing cell walls using the tiny protein spikes of haemagglutinin that cover its surface. The spikes are also armed with an enzyme called neuraminidase that helps to break down the cell wall, allowing the virus to invade healthy tissue.
Dr Mumcuoglu believes that black elderberry extract disarms the protein spikes by binding to them and preventing the virus from piercing the cell membrane.
Black elderberry extract has been shown to be effective against both the type A and type B flu virus in human test subjects and at least ten different strains in the laboratory, including Beijing, Singapore, Hong Kong, Ann Arbor, Texas, Panama, Yamagata and Shangdong.1 The efficacy of Sambucol appears not to be affected by the genetic variations (responsible for the varying degrees of severity each flu season) that occur between strains.
Black Elderberry: Important immune-boosting powers
A second double-blind clinical study performed in Norway echoes the earlier studies, showing that Sambucol shortens the duration of a flu attack by an average of four days.2
Other more recent research, published in June 2001, demonstrates how Sambucol positively activates the immune system.3
Other studies have shown the wider anti-viral properties of black elderberry. In the laboratory, black elderberry extract can inhibit the herpes and HIV virus.4, 5
Now Sambucol products are available in the UK. They can be taken all year round as a preventative, or at the first signs of cold or flu-like symptoms. Available in five varieties, the extract can be purchased as a liquid (original, sugar-free and for children) or lozenge, or combined with other immune-enhancing compounds such as propolis, zinc and vitamin C.
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Disclaimer: This article is part of the Daily Health's extensive research archive. The research and information contained in this article was accurate at the the time of publication but may have been updated since the date of publication. Consult our most recent articles for the latest research on alternative health and natural breakthroughs.
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1. Mumcuoglu M et al. Inhibition of Several Strains of Influenza Virus in Vitro and Reduction of Symptoms by an Elderberry Extract (Sambucus nigra L.) during an Outbreak of Influenza B Panama. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 1995;4:361-369.
2. Thom E and Wollan T. Randomised study on the efficacy and safety of an oral elderberry extract in the treatment of influenza A and B virus infections, 2000: submitted for publication to BMJ.
3. Barak V, Halperin T, Kalickman I. The Effect of Sambucol on the production of human cytokines. Eur. Cytokine Netw., 2001;12:290-6.
4. Morag et al. Inhibition of Sensitive and Acyclovir-Resistant HSV-1 strains by an Elderberry Extract in Vitro. Xth International Congress of Virology, Abstract 1 8-3 (Jerusalem, 1996).
5. Shapira-Nahor, B et al. The Effect of Sambucol on HIV Infection in Vitro. Israel Congress of Microbiology 6-7th February 1995.