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With the growing problem of antibiotic resistance and the unpleasant side-effects of taking them, more people are looking for natural ways to fight infection.
One solution could be the black elderberry plant, a plant native to Europe that’s rich in natural antioxidants.
According to new research published in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, an extract from black elderberry may help fight off respiratory infections – even the flu.
Black Elderberry Uses: Does It Fight Infection Naturally?
The medicinal benefits of black elderberry have been recognized for years. It’s been used medicinally in Europe for centuries to ward off colds and flu – and for good reason.
Small studies show its ability to fight flu, including the H1N1 flu virus and seasonal influenza. Now there’s more confirmation of its infection-fighting prowess and its ability to act as a natural anti-bacterial.
In research carried out at Justus-Liebig University in Germany, a black elderberry extract reduced the growth of two bacteria involved in respiratory infections by 70% and by 99% when it was tested in the lab.
What About Viruses?
They went on to test extract from black elderberry against the two most common forms of seasonal influenza virus, influenza type A and influenza type B.
Again, black elderberry inhibited the growth of both viruses by 25%. It seems to block the ability of influenza viruses to infect cells.
Viruses have no impact until they get inside a cell, so this keeps the virus from gaining a foothold in the body.
Black Elderberry Extract: How Does This Natural Anti-Bacterial Plant Fight Infection?
According to one study, extract from the black elderberry plants stimulates the production of cytokines. Cytokines are small proteins that regulate the activity of cells that fight infection.
By releasing cytokines, more immune cells are drawn to the site of infection to help eradicate it. Thus, black elderberry has an immune-enhancing effect.
Is It Safe To Take Black Elderberry Extract During Cold And Flu Season?
Black elderberry extract seems to be safe when used short-term – for 5 days or less.
Because it stimulates the immune system, people who have autoimmune diseases of any type should avoid using it. No one knows the safety of taking it long term.
The Bottom Line?
An extract from black elderberry has natural anti-bacterial activity – and helps to stop the growth of viruses too.
It’s available at most health food stores and online – but don’t take it for more than 5 days until there’s more research to support its long-term safety.
As always, talk to your doctor before taking any type of supplement, especially if you’re on medications.
Phytochemistry 70 (10): 1255–61.
The Journal of International Medical Research 32 (2): 132–40.
Nutraingredients-USA.com. “Black Elderberry Extract Shows Anti-Infection Activity”