The Health Benefits of Elderberry
With the popularity of the Elderberry Syrup recipe, there is a growing number of anecdotal and clinically studied health benefits of Elderberries. Not only are they nutritious, but they may also fight cold and flu symptoms, support heart health and fight inflammation and infections, among other benefits.
Elderberry is the beautiful dark purple berries of the Elder Tree. This nutrient-packed berry has a deep, rich history that seemed to be lost for a period of time. Our ancient ancestors knew the power of elderberry and it’s now only recently being rediscovered. So, what are the health benefits of elderberry? Keep reading below and we’ll explain more about this magical berry, it’s rich history, and how you can best use it.
The History of Elderberry
Black Elder, sometimes referred to as European Elder, has been used for centuries across many different cultures. Some cultures used it for keeping evil spirits away while others used it to treat various health ailments. In the middle ages, elderberries were considered holy, as well. They were thought to be capable of restoring good health, keeping good health, and would help you live longer.
Most of these uses were brought to America by early European settlers. The knowledge was passed on to Native Americans who started using the closely related American Elder for healing. While the American Elder hasn’t been as widely studied as the Black Elder, Native Americans have sworn by it to relieve both fevers and inflammation.
The earliest use of elderberry is from around 2000 BCE. Elder seeds were found in Neolithic dwellings in Switzerland dating back to this time. Elderberry’s uses were documented by Pliny the Elder in 77 CE but it wasn’t until 1644 that an entire book was devoted to it. The Anatomy of the Elder was used as a handbook written in Latin by Dr. Martin Blochwich for medical practitioners. This book used existing traditional remedy works dating back to Pythagoras (570 BCE). It is believed that Dr. Blochwich chose elderberry since it provided many different uses for treating a variety of illnesses.
Health Benefits of Elderberry
There are many health benefits of elderberry. They are high in vitamins and antioxidants, and have been shown to help reduce inflammation, fight infection, improve heart health, and more! Check out some of the top health benefits of elderberry below.
Elderberries are Packed with Nutrients and Antioxidants
Let’s take a look inside just 100g (a little less than a cup) of raw elderberries.
- 73 calories
- 18g of carbs
- 7g of fiber (28% of your recommended daily value)
- 0.50g of fat
- 40% of your recommended daily value of Vitamin C (36mg)
- 12% of your recommended daily value of Vitamin A (600IU)
- 18% of your recommended daily value of Vitamin B6 (0.230mg)
Just by looking at the surface, the nutritional value of elderberry is quite impressive! Vitamin C is wonderful for the immune system, Vitamin A helps with vision and organ health, while Vitamin B6 is used in the creation of red blood cells and neurotransmitters.
There is even more hiding below this magical berry in the form of very powerful antioxidants! Elderberries are a good source of phenolic acids and flavanols and are extremely rich in anthocyanins. The antioxidants found in elderberry specifically have been shown to counteract oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is responsible for a long list of damage that can occur to the body and eventually lead to numerous diseases, including cancer.
While you can find some of these traits in other berries, it won’t be as good as what’s found in elderberry. One study compared 15 different varieties of berries and found that elderberry outperformed them all. In the study, it was named one of the most effective antioxidants. Another study found that elderberries were an excellent source of antioxidants. It reported that the anthocyanins found in elderberry have over 3 times the antioxidant power of Vitamin E!
A Good Elderberry Syrup Recipe Can Help with the Flu
The flu is an absolutely miserable sickness that even can be fatal in some populations. While elderberry hasn’t been shown to help prevent the flu yet, medical research has proven it does help reduce the severity! In one medical study completed at the University of Washington, researchers found antiviral and antimicrobial properties in elderberry extract. This was then used on patients with the flu and shown to reduce both the severity and the length of the illness.
An even larger study was published in The Journal of International Medical Research with similar findings. In this study, a group of 60 people all suffering from the flu were split into two different groups. The first group received 15 ml of elderberry syrup four times a day for five days. The second group, the control group, had the same amount and schedule but were given a placebo syrup instead (a sugar syrup). The results showed that the group given elderberry syrup showed improvement and relief of symptoms within the first 4 days (average 2-4 days). While the control group continued to suffer much longer (8 days) and reported a worse severity in symptoms overall.
A Good Elderberry Syrup Recipe Can Help with Colds
While the use of elderberry was becoming established as a great way to treat the flu. Researchers started to wonder about its uses in the common cold. So, in 2016, scientists in Australian worked on answering just that question. Similar to the last study, researchers took 312 frequent air-travelers and split them into two groups. One group received 300mg of elderberry extract three times per day and the second control group was given a placebo instead.
The placebo group reported a significantly longer duration of the cold and more severe symptoms. Meanwhile, the elderberry receiving participants were concluded to have significantly less duration of colds and the symptoms associated with them.
Elderberry and Upper Respiratory Infection and Symptoms
In a more recently published December 2018 meta-analysis research by the Franklin Institute of Wellness included 180 participants. It was concluded, that supplementation with elderberry substantially reduces upper respiratory symptoms. Moreover, the findings present elderberry as a broad spectrum antibiotic and a safer alternative to prescription antibiotics and OTC cold and flu medications.
Elderberry Syrup Recipe Can Help Support a Heart Health
Recent research have shown that elderberry can be a good tool for overall heart health. The high antioxidants present have been shown to significantly decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease. In multiple studies, elderberry has shown to reduce cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and help protect organs susceptible to damage by high blood pressure.
It has also been shown that elderberry can regulate insulin secretion and therefore provide benefits to blood sugar levels. . This can help decrease your risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Breakdown of the Health Benefits of Elderberry
- Upper respiratory symptoms
- Can reduce the risk of cancer
- Supports the immune system
- Reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes
- Might be helpful in treating depression
- Reduces cold and flu duration and symptoms
- Supports overall heart health
- High in antioxidants, vitamin C, and fiber
The Best Elderberry Syrup Recipes
There are many easy and delicious ways you can start incorporating elderberry into your daily diet! You can use dietary supplements, lozenge, syrup, jam, tea, and more. The most popular way that most people use elderberry is in the form of a syrup or liquid extract. This is because it’s easy to use, easy to take, and tastes pretty good!
However, you can also make a variety of delicious treats with elderberry including jelly/jam, pie, syrup (for pancakes or cocktails), sauce, chutney, and compote! Here we’ll offer you one of our absolute favorite recipes, Elderberry Jelly!
This sweet jelly is reminiscent of grape jelly in texture but tastes similar to blackberries with a distinctive delicious elderberry flavor.
- 3-4 pounds of organic elderberries (pick your own or buy some online)
- 1 lemon
- 2 tablespoons of organic thickening agent (e.g. cornstarch, gelatin, tapioca)
- 4 cups of organic cane sugar
- ¼ teaspoon of organic grass-fed butter (optional to reduce foaming)
- Rinse the elderberries and remove any stems.
- Place all of the elderberries into a large pot and bring to a boil for 1 minute.
- Mash the berries with whatever tools you have on hand. A potato masher works well.
- Bring the elderberries and their juices to a simmer and let them cook for about 45 minutes.
- Place a sieve or use a cheesecloth over another pot or large bowl and pour the elderberries and their juices into the sieve/cheesecloth. Press and squeeze out all the juice.
- Once you have extracted all of the juices, measure out 3 cups.
- Add 3 cups of the elderberry juice extract, ¼ cup of fresh-squeezed juice from the lemon, and 2 Tbsp of cornstarch to a large pot and bring it all to a boil.
- Once the mixture is boiling, add in the sugar and butter.
- Continue to simmer and to stir. Once the mixture is at a consistent simmer for two minutes, remove from heat and pour into canning jars.
Makes roughly seven half-pint jars.
Possible Side Effects of Elderberry
Elderberry is very safe to use and the side effects are minimal. However, it is important to note that the leaves and stems of the Elder Tree, as well as unripe or uncooked elderberries, can sometimes cause nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. Commercial preparations and cooked elderberries do not cause this problem. The branches, bark, or leaves should not be used in cooking or juices.
Elderberries are a Healthy Addition to Your Daily Diet
In conclusion, there are many proven health benefits of elderberry. Using an elderberry syrup or extract can boost your immune system, protect against deadly diseases like cancer, diabetes, and heart disease, and also promotes a healthy heart! There are no reported side effects to consuming commercially prepared products or cooked berries either. The health benefits and powerful nutrients and antioxidants in elderberry are all yours to gain. Look into adding more of this magical berry to your daily diet today!
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