As member of the honeysuckle family, elderberries can be transformed into wines, syrups, jams, marmalades, tonics and supplements. They can be helpful in boosting the immune system and treating common ailments. Elton John even sang a song about them, but I’m not sure the focus was on the medicinal benefits.
Elderberries are full of anti-inflammatory, antiviral, properties and contain viburnic acids, carotenoids, amino acids, flavonoids, tannin, beta-carotene and vitamins A and B and C. They also contain cytokines, the body’s protein messengers that keep the immune system functioning properly. Cytokines are sent to the needed area in the body during an immune system response.
Here are some of the main benefits of elderberries:
- Elderberries are full of antioxidants and help repair cell damage.
- Elderberry juice helps control blood sugar levels, and is helpful in controlling diabetes.
- The antioxidants and flavonoids in elderberries can help prevent heart-related disease.
- Elderberry flowers and berries are used to treat swelling in the mucus membranes, reducing bronchitis, sinus and nasal congestion.
- Elderberry juice can reduce levels of LDL (bad cholesterol).
- An Extract in elderberries called sambucol can suppress viral symptoms, like the flu.
- Elderberry compounds can work as an eye wash for conjunctivitis and eye inflammation.
- Elderberries have a high amount of dietary fiber and are a diuretic, acting as a mild laxative.
- Elderberry extract can help with urinary tract infections, much like cranberries do.
- Elderberries diuretic and detoxifying properties help with weight management by bioactive compounds and carb-degrading enzymes that play a vital role in absorption of carbohydrates.
- Elderberry compounds can treat wounds and restore skin tone and lighten freckles.
- The elderberry flower oil is used to make a lotion that relaxes sore muscles and treats burns, sunburn, and rashes.
Always go for the organic elderberries, and if you seek them in the wild, make sure you cook them as the raw berries contain a cyanide-like chemical. You need to avoid green, unripe, or bright red elderberries because they are bitter and possibly toxic, even when cooked.