The Sambucus tree, a flowering plant in the Adoxaceae family, is known by numerous other names, including elderberry.
Sambucus nigra, often known as European elderberry or black elder, is the most prevalent kind. This tree is native to Europe, although it is also commonly planted in other areas of the globe.
Elderflowers are clusters of tiny white or cream-colored flowers that grow up to 30 feet (9 metres) tall on S. nigra. Small black or blue-black clusters of berries might be found.
The berries are extremely sour and must be cooked before being consumed. Raw or cooked, the blossoms have a subtle muscat fragrance and can be either raw or cooked.
The American elder, dwarf elder, blue elderberry, danewort, red-fruited elder, and antelope brush are some of the other types.
Various components of the elderberry tree have been utilised for medical and culinary reasons throughout history.
Pain treatment, swelling, inflammation, increasing urine output, and producing sweating have all been utilised with the flowers and leaves in the past. The bark was employed as a diuretic, laxative, and a vomiting inducer.
The dried berries or juice are used as a laxative and diuretic in folk medicine to treat influenza, infections, sciatica, headaches, tooth pain, heart discomfort, and nerve pain.
The berries can also be cooked to produce elderberry juice, jams, chutneys, pies, and elderberry wine. The blossoms are frequently incorporated into tea or cooked with sugar to produce a delicious syrup.
Health benefits of elderberry
Anthocyanin is responsible for many of elderberry’s health advantages. Anthocyanin functions as an antioxidant by ridding the body of free radicals that cause DNA damage in cells. It also possesses antiviral effects, which might help to prevent or lessen the severity of several common illnesses.
Elderberry also has anti-inflammatory properties, which help to reduce swelling and discomfort by calming the immune system.
1.High in nutrients
Elderberries are a low-calorie, high-antioxidant meal.
Fresh berries include 106 calories, 26.7 grammes of carbohydrates, and less than 1 gramme of fat and protein per cup (145 grammes).
They also offer several nutritional advantages. Elderberries are also known as:
• Vitamin C content is high. A cup of fruit contains 52 milligrams of vitamin C, which is 57 percent of the daily requirement.
• Contains a lot of nutritional fibre. Elderberries include 10 grammes of fibre per cup of fresh berries, which is roughly 36% of the daily recommended amount.
• It’s high in phenolic acids. These chemicals are powerful antioxidants that can aid in the reduction of oxidative stress-related damage in the body.
• Flavonols are abundant in this food. The antioxidant flavonols quercetin, kaempferol, and isorhamnetin are found in elderberry. The blooms have up to ten times the amount of flavonols as the fruit.
• Anthocyanins are abundant. These chemicals are powerful antioxidants with anti-inflammatory properties that give the fruit its rich black-purple hue.
The specific nutritional profile of elderberries is determined by:
• the variety of plant
• ripeness of the berries
• environmental and climatic conditions
2.Colds and flu
Elderberry juice syrup has been used as a home treatment for colds and flu, both of which are caused by viruses, for millennia. If consumed within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms, the syrup is thought to lessen the severity and duration of the illness. This assertion is backed up by early data from tiny research.
Elderberry was found to significantly decrease upper-airway symptoms in a 2019 research for both cold and flu.
3. High in antioxidants
Reactive molecules are produced during regular metabolism and can build up in the body. This can result in oxidative stress, which can lead to illnesses including diabetes type 2 and cancer.
Antioxidants, which include vitamins, phenolic acids, and flavonoids, are natural components of meals that can aid in the removal of reactive molecules. Antioxidant-rich diets may help avoid chronic illness, according to research.
The elderberry plant’s blooms, fruits, and leaves are all high in antioxidants. One of the berries’ anthocyanins, for example, has 3.5 times the antioxidant activity of vitamin E.
Elderberry was shown to be one of the most efficient antioxidants in one study comparing 15 different sorts of berries and another study comparing different types of wine.
Furthermore, one study discovered that people’s antioxidant level improved 1 hour after consuming 400 mL of elderberry juice. Elderberry extract was also found to help decrease inflammation and oxidative tissue damage in rats in another investigation.
While elderberry has showed promise in the lab, there is currently a lack of human and animal studies. In general, including it in one’s diet has a minor impact on antioxidant status.
Elderberries’ antioxidant activity can also be reduced by processing them, such as extraction, boiling, or juicing.
As a result, items such as syrups, juices, teas, and jams may provide fewer advantages than those observed in laboratory research.
4. Good for heart health
Some indicators of heart and blood vessel health may respond favourably to elderberry.
Elderberry juice has been demonstrated in studies to lower blood fat levels and cholesterol levels. Furthermore, a diet rich in flavonoids such as anthocyanins has been linked to a lower risk of heart disease.
A diet rich in black elderberry, on the other hand, decreased cholesterol levels in the liver and aorta but not in the blood in mice with high cholesterol.
Rats fed diets containing polyphenols derived from elderberry had lower blood pressure, according to another research.
Elderberries may also help to lower uric acid levels in the blood. Increased blood pressure and harmful effects on heart health are connected to elevated uric acid levels.
Drinking tea prepared from dried elderberries might help with constipation. Anthraquinone, a chemical found in elderberry, is responsible for the laxative action.
6. Pain relief
Inflammation is known to be decreased by anthocyanins. Those found in elderberry do so by preventing immune cells from producing nitric oxide. 8 Inflammation is triggered by nitric oxide, which acts as a signalling molecule in response to damage or disease. 9 Pain and edoema may be reduced if this response is tempered.
Elderberry tinctures and salves have long been used to alleviate tooth pain, wounds, bruises, and burns in traditional medicine. Some people even believe that elderberry syrup might help with sciatica and other types of neuropathic pain.
Unfortunately, few human research has looked at elderberry’s anti-inflammatory and analgesic (pain-relieving) properties.
Elderberry in cancer
There have been no human or animal trials to see if elderberry extract can help prevent or cure cancer. Several in vitro investigations, however, have suggested that elderberry extract may have moderate anticancer properties.
Treatment of human keratinocytes with elderberry extract reduced the synthesis of VEGF, a protein essential for angiogenesis, in a research. Angiogenesis is a process that results in the formation of new blood vessels, which is necessary for providing blood to tumours that are developing.
Another study used an elderberry extract rich in anthocyanins to treat human colon cancer cells, which reduced cancer cell development. Other plant extracts, such as purple maize, chokeberry, bilberry, purple carrot, and grape, were shown to be less effective than elderberry. An anthocyanin-rich elderberry extract reduced the growth of mouse melanoma cells in a dose-dependent manner in another research. Melanoma cells experienced apoptosis, or cell death, as a result of the extract.
Elderberry extract rich in triterpenoid acids caused cell death in human breast cancer cells and human colon cancer cells, according to a research. Furthermore, an elderberry extract fraction containing oleanolic acid decreased the migration of breast cancer cells, indicating that it may prevent metastasis.
Mechanism of action
By attaching to H1N1 virions and preventing host cell identification and entrance, elderberry suppresses H1N1 activity. It may also protect against HIV-1 infection by attaching to viral glycoproteins like gp120, although further research is needed to confirm those processes. Increased cytokine production or suppression of nuclear transcription factor kappaB and phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase may be responsible for elderberry’s anti-inflammatory properties. In a mouse model of obesity, an elderberry extract reduced metabolic abnormalities by decreasing blood lipids, inflammatory markers, and insulin resistance. It has anti-diabetic effects via stimulating insulin-dependent glucose absorption and activating the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma. Elderberry may also alter HDL dysfunction associated with chronic inflammation in hyperlipidemic rats by influencing hepatic gene expression. According to another research, its chemopreventive potential is linked to the activation of quinone reductase, as well as inhibition of cyclooxygenase-2 and ornithine decarboxylase.
Possible side effects
Ripe, cooked elderberry fruit is considered safe if consumed in small amounts. Elderberries’ laxative properties may induce diarrhoea, stomach pain, and abdominal cramps if consumed in excess. Only ripe or dried elderberries should be utilised for medicinal purposes.
The elderberry plant contains cyanogenic glycoside, which is a kind of toxin found in the leaves, root, bark, and stems. Even unripe berries contain tiny quantities of this, which can cause cyanide poisoning if chewed.
Elderberries must be prepared before eating since they might make you sick if eaten raw.
Children: When eaten by mouth for up to 10 days, elderberry may be safe for children aged 12 and above. There isn’t enough trustworthy information to say if elderberry is safe for children under the age of 12.
Elderberry is not safe to use during pregnancy or breast-feeding since there isn’t enough trustworthy information. To be safe side, avoid using it.
Elderberry may exacerbate the symptoms of autoimmune illnesses such as multiple sclerosis (MS), lupus (systemic lupus erythematosus, SLE), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and other ailments by causing the immune system to become more active. It’s advised to avoid taking elderberry if you have one of these disorders.
While elderberry has been linked to a number of prospective health benefits, much of the study has been done in the lab and not widely studied in humans.
Elderberry extract may have some moderate anticancer effects, according to many in vitro studies. However, because elderberry extract has not been investigated in either animals or people, its effect on cancer prevention and therapy is unclear. Overdosage, utilising undercooked fruit, or using a poisonous portion of the plant have all been linked to negative side effects such nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea.
Its use to assist decrease the length and intensity of flu symptoms is supported by reasonable evidence.
It may also benefit heart health, boost antioxidant levels, and have anti-cancer, anti-diabetes, and anti-inflammatory properties.
Elderberry is also a tasty complement to a balanced diet, as well as an excellent source of vitamin C, fibre, and antioxidants.