What Are The Immunity Benefits of Elderberry?

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    Meet elderberry, a powerful antioxidant for immune system support with the research and history to back it up.

    Elderberry is commonly known for its immune health benefits due to it’s powerful antioxidant properties and anthocyanins (AKA a group of compounds that have been shown to have immune-supporting benefits).

    Specifically, the dark black berries of the flowering elderberry plant (sambucus nigra) are a rich source of antioxidants shown to help maintain the structure and healthy function of immune cells which are critical for short-term immune needs and long term ones.

    What exactly is elderberry?

    Elderberry is a dark black berry of the flowering elderberry plant, officially called sambucus nigra but often referred to as an Elderberry tree or Elder tree.

    Native to North Africa, Europe, and Asia, elderberry has been used for centuries in traditional medicine for immune health benefits. Hippocrates even referenced elderberry almost 2,500 years ago when he praised its medicinal properties in his writing. In folk medicine, elderberries were commonly used for their beneficial properties and were used to promote optimal health.

    In addition to its immune health benefits, elderberries which have a naturally tart and tangy taste have been commonly used for flavoring, and to make wines, pies, syrups, and teas. Even today you can find entire cookbooks and recipes dedicated to elderberry’s flavor profile.

    How does elderberry support immune health?

    Elderberry has been growing in popularity for its powerful immune health benefits, and recent clinical studies confirm that elderberry helps maintain a healthy immune system.

    Elderberries have been studied extensively in-vitro and in-vivo, for their immunomodulatory properties. This means that elderberry studies suggest that elderberries broadly support the function of a healthy immune system.

    For example, a randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial was conducted in 2016 to determine if elderberry improved health outcomes for passengers taking overseas flights. Although the results were not significant, the group that received elderberry did maintain their health with fewer common air travel respiratory occurrences during travel on long-haul flights than placebo.

    What are the different forms of elderberry?

    Historically elderberry was used in jams and pies, but these days you're more likely to come across elderberry supplements in the form of syrups, teas, gummies, and capsules at your local health food store or online.

    Elderberry has a naturally tart and tangy taste so forms of elderberry supplements like capsules may be great if you dislike tart flavors. Additionally, because of its bold flavor, many syrup forms of elderberry include added sugar to mask the tartness. If added sugar is something you’re looking to avoid in your diet, elderberry capsules are a good option.

    Before taking any elderberry product, make sure you read the product label for suggested use. The suggested use will include details on the amount and frequency it’s recommended you adhere to for the most benefits.

    What are the best elderberry supplements to take?

    Ultimately the best form of elderberry is one that is easy for you to take. But there are other factors to consider, too. Look out for third party tested ingredients to make sure you are getting only what is listed on the label of your supplement. Nothing more, nothing less. Also look for ingredients that fit your dietary standards. For instance, our Elderberry is C.L.E.A.N certified, made with non-GMO ingredients, vegan, and gluten free.

    When choosing an elderberry supplement look at the quality of sourcing, formulation, and purity. Capsules are the most convenient form and often offer a purer source of elderberry antioxidants (i.e. no added sugars).

    For example, Care/of’s elderberry is harvested throughout Europe in places like Poland and the valleys of Austria, where a humid climate and magnesium-rich soil ensure the highest quality of their antioxidant properties. We use a unique membrane extraction process that avoids the use of chemicals or solvents. And our formula was created to optimize absorption. The elderberry is blended with guar gum, derived from guar seeds from the Cyamopsis tetragonolobus legume in India. Guar is a natural fiber and prebiotic, which helps support improved absorption in the body.

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    Diana Morgan, MS, CISSN
    Head of Scientific & Regulatory Affairs
    Diana Morgan is an innovative and entrepreneurial strategist with over 15 years of experience in the dietary supplement industry in areas such as Regulatory Affairs, Product Development, Technical Services and Sales coupled with a personal passion for nutrition & health.
    Our Editorial Staff
    Freelance Contributor
    The Care/of Editorial Team is made up of writers, experts, and health enthusiasts, all dedicated to giving you the information you need today. Our team is here to answer your biggest wellness questions, read the studies for you, and introduce you to your new favorite product, staying up to date on the latest research, trends, and science. Each article is written by one of our experts, reviewed both for editorial standards by an editor and medical standards by one of our naturopathic doctors, and updated regularly as new information becomes available.