Some Black Fruits May Protect Against Colds and Flu – ‘High Antioxidant Properties’

During the winter months, it becomes difficult to avoid illnesses such as colds and flu. Not only does colder air weaken our resistance to disease, but more time spent indoors together encourages the spread of infection. Thus, the use of certain natural remedies can help reduce the risk of certain seasonal diseases.

One such natural remedy can be eating elderberries.

Commonly found in the UK countryside, this fruit is dark purple or black in color.

Various studies have shown that it may have restorative properties when it comes to colds and flu.

However, the berries should not be eaten raw, as they contain a toxic substance that can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, and should instead be cooked first.

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Andrew Petrow, a registered dietitian with Sambucol, explained, “Black Elderberry (Sambucus nigra) has been used for centuries as a traditional natural cold remedy in many parts of the world due to its immune-supporting and antioxidant properties.

“The high antioxidant properties of black elderberries are associated with high levels of flavonoids, especially anthocyanins, which are responsible for the dark color of the berries.

“The properties of black elderberry, often taken as a supplement (when preserved during production), have been proven to reduce viral infections and have a positive effect on immunity.”

What do the studies say?

One study published in the Journal of International Medical Research in 2004 found that flu symptoms could be relieved up to four days earlier by drinking elderberry syrup.

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In the study, 60 patients with flu-like symptoms were given 15 ml of elderberry syrup or a placebo four times a day for five days.

They recorded their symptoms using a visual analog scale.

The study concluded: “Symptoms improved an average of four days earlier, and those who received elderberry extract had significantly less use of rescue medications compared to placebo.

“Elderberry extract appears to offer an effective, safe, and cost-effective treatment for influenza.”

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In a separate article from Complementary Therapies in Medicine in 2019, elderberries were found to reduce the duration of upper respiratory symptoms caused by influenza in a study of 180 patients.

It states: “These results represent an alternative to the misuse of antibiotics for upper respiratory symptoms caused by viral infections and a potentially safer alternative to prescription drugs for common cold and flu cases.”

How to use elderberry

Mr. Petru added: “It often depends on the purpose of eating the elderberries.

“If needed to maximize health benefits, I recommend a supplement format that has evidence-based clinical studies, such as Sambucol, to ensure consistent immune support properties in every serving.

“If you are experimenting with healthy herbs/fruits in your daily cooking, then juices, teas, and jams are a great way to use elderberries.

“However, it is important to understand that you should not eat raw elderberries as they are toxic and must be cooked to make the fruit completely safe to eat.”

BBC Good Food also states that elderberry syrup is one way to get the health benefits of the fruit.

Common flu symptoms include:

  • Sudden high temperature
  • sick body
  • Feeling tired or exhausted
  • Dry cough
  • A sore throat
  • Headache
  • Sleep difficulties
  • Loss of appetite
  • Diarrhea or abdominal pain
  • Feel sick and be sick.

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