Fighting the Flu: The Surprising Science Behind Old-Fashioned Elderberry Syrup
With immune health front and center this season, we’ve been reviewing the best insights we’ve learned from pros and have been on the hunt for the most reliable immune supports we can find for ourselves and our readers.
When it comes to something as serious as this year’s cold and flu season, we’re not messing around. I know so many people who are still very skeptical of ‘natural remedies’ and have confidence only in things they can get prescribed by a doctor. I understand it — not every natural remedy can hold its weight against modern medicine. However, compelling science is finally catching up with many of the most potent natural remedies humans have used for ages. One of them is the immune-boosting power of elderberry.
Elderberries may sound a little odd and look a little too adorable to be a viable health support, but don’t get it twisted: elderberries are no joke when it comes to the cold and flu.
I didn’t grow up using elderberry syrup for coughs and colds, but most of the wellness pros that I now know use it religiously the minute they start feeling sick. That and the growing body of scientific evidence are why elderberry syrup is part of my core medicine cabinet line-up (even though, obviously, I keep it in the fridge).
My favorite brand has quickly become Further Food’s new Elderberry Soothing Syrup. The syrup is formulated with premium European (Haschberg variety) elderberries and infused with honey, cinnamon and cloves. Unlike so many tinctures and remedies, the syrup, thankfully, tastes nothing like medicine! With the cinnamon, honey and cloves I actually love the taste of the syrup so much that I drink it in warm water like a tea. It basically tastes like Christmas.
We learned from the founders of Further Food that elderberries have incredibly high biological activity thanks to three components: flavanols, phenolic acids and most importantly, anthocyanins…
Anthocyanins are the flavonoids that give elderberries their striking dark purple color. They’re also known for their potent antioxidant support.
A lab study showed that drinking 400 mL of elderberry juice can significantly increase antioxidant activity. In this particular study, the subjects saw this increase within just one hour of ingesting the juice! This is important in and of itself because increased antioxidant activity can possibly prevent and reduce free radical damage. High levels of free radicals have been linked to a multitude of illnesses, including chronic diseases.
The most important in vitro study used to identify the antiviral features of elderberry fruit found that the elderberry extract inhibited human influenza infection thanks to its flavonoids’ activity. The flavonoids in elderberries bind to H1N1 virions, and when those virions are bound, they are unable to infect host cells. Simply put, flavonoids like anthocyanins in elderberries block the ability of the virus to cause the infection. This remarkable study went on to compare the influenza inhibition activity of the elderberry flavonoids to a popular anti-influenza medication!
Researchers at the University of Sydney also found that the elderberry’s antiviral activity can be traced back to its anthocyanins. In their research, they found that the phytochemicals from the elderberry juice used in their study were effective in preventing the virus from infecting cells. They additionally found that the same phytochemicals were also effective in inhibiting the cells even after a cell had already been infected with the virus. That means the anthocyanins in elderberries can be attributed to helping to diminish the chance of overall viral infection!
Anthocyanins are considered the key to elderberry’s power for immune support because of their antioxidant and protective potential, as well as their display of antiviral and antibacterial activity.
The benefits of anthocyanins are profound, but elderberries also contain a potent dose of everyone’s most trusted immune-booster, vitamin C (60% RDA per 100 grams of fruit).
The great news is that, like all of Further Food’s products, their Elderberry Soothing Syrup is made with high quality, real food ingredients endorsed by Functional Medicine doctors. One bottle contains almost two month’s worth of daily doses and can be taken by the whole family: all children over two years old can safely take elderberry syrup daily.
Like never before, immune health is at the top of our priority list. We’re relying on Elderberry Soothing Syrup to keep ourselves in top condition in a way that’s actually also delicious.
The women-led team behind Further Food have also extended an exclusive offer for 20% off our readers’ first purchase which includes their full range of wellness products like their incredibly delicious Superfood Turmeric golden milk powder and Chocolate Collagen — TCM team favorites!
This story is brought to you in partnership with Further Food. From time to time, TCM editors choose to partner with brands we believe in to bring our readers special offers. The Chalkboard Mag and its materials are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. All material on The Chalkboard Mag is provided for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health-related programs.
- Baker, M. (1928). Discovering the folklore of plants . Buckinghamshire, U.K.: Shire Publications.
- Grieve, M. (1971). A modern herbal (originally published in 1931) New York: Dover Publications.
- Zakay-Rones Z, Varsano N, Zlotnik 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. J Altern Complement Med 1995;1:361-369.
- University of Sydney. “Elderberry compounds could help minimize flu symptoms, study suggests.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 April 2019. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/04/190423133644.htm>.