Flu season is still going strong. While public health experts assure us it is not too late to get a flu shot, some readers would like to know how to treat it and feel better faster if they do catch it. One reader has taken us to task for not telling others to take elderberry extract for relief.
Would You Take Elderberry Extract for Influenza?
Q. Why haven’t you recommended elderberry extract against the flu? As I understand it, tests have proven it to be better than Tamiflu.
I never get flu shots even though almost everyone else in my retirement community gets them. Several still catch the flu.
At the first sign of a throat tickle, I start taking elderberry extract. I haven’t had even a sniffle.
Scientific Studies of Elderberry Extract:
A. There is some evidence suggesting that elderberry has antiviral activity. One meta-analysis found that elderberry supplements (Sambucus nigra) can reduce upper respiratory symptoms such as congestion and cough (Complementary Therapies in Medicine, Feb. 2019). Scientists have also found that a compound in elderberry, cyanidin 3-glucoside, acts in several ways to inhibit influenza infection (Journal of Functional Foods, March 2019). They found that it blocks viral surface proteins and boosts the body’s immune responses.
We found only one trial comparing elderberry (in combination with Echinacea purpurea) to oseltamivir (Tamiflu) for treating influenza (Holistic Nursing Practice, March-April 2016). In this study, more than 400 people with flu responded equally well to both treatments. We would love to see further research on herbal treatments for influenza.
We would not suggest that you take elderberry extract instead of getting your flu shot. But having a backup treatment available is not a bad idea. We heard recently from a reader that elderberry extract helped her recover quickly from a cold.
Could You Take Elderberry Extract to Recover from a Cold?
Our reader said that she had seen our article on elderberry rob as a cold remedy. She purchased an elderberry product at the health food store, planning to keep it on hand. When she awoke one day with severe cold symptoms, she followed the instructions on the bottle. The following day, she noticed that her symptoms were very mild. By the third day she felt well, although she could still hear the effects of the cold on her voice. That was the last day she felt she needed to take elderberry extract, since the fourth day she felt entirely well. She told us that this was the quickest recovery from a cold she can recall. Perhaps we should all take elderberry extract at the first signs of a respiratory tract infection.