Elderberry May Shorten Colds

As the holiday season wraps up next week with New Year’s, many adults will be thinking of travelling somewhere to escape the cold and snow.  But travel, especially in close quarters on long flights can expose people to cold and flu viruses and the stress of air travel can lead to a greater risk of becoming ill.  In addition to getting an annual flu shot, there are some supplements and foods that may help boost the body’s ability to fight off illness and shorten the duration of colds. 

According to a recent Clean Plates report by researcher Gretchen Lidicker, foods like broccoli, sweet potatoes, grapefruit and thyme can help boost the immune system with antioxidants, vitamin A, vitamin C and antimicrobial properties.   Elderberry has also gained attention as a supplement that can help reduce the duration of colds.  In a recent double-blind randomized trial, air travellers who supplemented their diet with elderberry syrup before and after travel experienced a significantly reduced cold duration.  

Black elderberry has also been shown to reduce upper respiratory symptoms according to research published recently in Complementary Therapies in Medicine.  Elderberry syrup has long been used to help reduce cold symptoms.  Elderberries grow wild in North America and are they are often boiled with honey and cinnamon, strained and sometimes mixed with a little brandy.  

Powdered elderberry can be purchased online or at a health food store to make preparing elderberry syrup easier.  It is often combined with honey, ginger or cinnamon to improve the taste.  There are also a number of prepared elderberry syrups and gummy supplements available on the market; look for a high quality trusted brand and watch our for too much added sugar.  

Eat well, get some fresh air and exercise and don’t forget to keep washing your hands this cold and flu season.  And if you need a little extra boost, black elderberry (Sambucus nigra) might help shorten the duration of colds.  Here’s a recipe for making elderberry syrup at home from the Franklin School of Integrative Health Sciences.