Compounds in elderberry bind microorganisms before they can penetrate the walls of cells, thereby inhibiting their ability to spread.
The hot tea from the flowers and juice from the berries promotes sweating preferable adding on lemon juice and honey which is soothing for upper respiratory infections. A liquid extract from black elderberry may inhibit the growth of pathogenic bacteria by 99 percent at highest concentrations, a feat no anti-bacterial drugs can match. The tea is also considered to be anti-rheumatic, laxative and detoxifying.
American Native Indians use the leaves and flowers in antiseptic wash for skin diseases and the berries to dye their hair black and dye the strands of grass they use in their basket designs. Others have used the tea made from the leaves as a diaphoretic (an agent that promotes sweating), the inner bark as a cathartic (an agent for purging the bowels, especially a laxative), the flowers simmered in oil for sunburn, and steeped in water as a compress for headaches.
The flowers contain an oil that is used in perfume and cosmetics. Elderflower water can be used as a wash for dry skin or as a cooling wash for the eyes. According to an ancient recipe, washing your face with elderflower water in the morning and before retiring, leave it there to dry, will remove freckles and hardened skin. American Indians used the leaves also for pain relief which promotes healing of injuries.
Addition of a standardized extract of black elderberry inhibited the growth of the bacteria, Branhamella catarrhalis and Streptococcus pyogenes, two strains often found in association with upper respiratory tract infections, by 70 percent, when used at a concentration of only 10 percent, according to findings published in the open-access BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
Ursolic acid is present in many plants including apples and elder flower, and can proect against from obesity and some of its harmful effects.
Elderberry may help treat cold and flu symptoms by reducing congestion and possibly making you sweat more. One study suggested that using a standardized elderberry extract, Sambucol, could shorten the duration of flu by about 3 days. Sambucol also contains other herbs plus vitamin C, so no one knows whether elderberry by itself would have the same effect.
Another preliminary study found that a lozenge with elderberry extract (ViraBLOC) helped reduce flu symptoms when taken within 24 hours of symptoms starting. In the lab, one study suggested that elderberry could kill the H1N1 virus (“swine flu”) in test tubes, but researchers don’t know whether it would be effective against H1N1 in people.
“The activities shown by the elderberry liquid extract suggest that additional and alternative approaches to influenza infections might be provided by natural products,” wrote researchers led by Torsten Hain at the university’s Institute for Medical Microbiology.
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