Saturday, November 24, 2007

fighting the sniffles: elderberries




We just got home from a very enjoyable local food potluck (more about that later!) but all I could think about was that I had to get home and VeganMoFo! Tonight, I want to blog about one of my favorite discoveries from the last few years- elderberries! When I first moved to Syracuse, there was a magazine article about the power of elderberries and elderberry extract to treat the flu and the common cold. Well, we bought some in bulk from our local health food store in the form of dried berries. We made a simple tea with them- and guess what? They totally work! If you drink elderberry tea within the first day or so of sensing a cold coming on - you know, scratchy or sore throat, heavy head, headache, etc. - it lessens the impact of the disease, or eliminates it all together! We gave it to my aunt one day when she was visiting our house and had a cold- she drank a cup in the evening, and by the next day was markedly less miserable. Our whole family witnessed this, and now can't get enough of the stuff!



In addition to making the tea from the dried berries, you can also find elderberry extract at health food stores (although it's substantially more expensive.) Daiku and I try to remind ourselves to drink a cup of the stuff as frequently as possible, to boost our immune system. It's natural, it's inexpensive, and it's more effective than any other cold remedy that I have ever come across, so I recommend it to everybody! How does the tea taste? To me, it has a kind of prune/raisin taste, although it is not sweet like those fruits. It just has a very mellow, dried fruit kind of flavor.

Here are two articles that go into more precise detail about the nutritional benefits of elderberries:

From Article #1: "The edible berries are rich in vitamin C and get their dark color form their high anthocyanin and bioflavonoid content. They are primarily used to treat flu symptoms and as an immunostimulant."

"Acting as an antioxidant, elder may protect the body against damage from free radicals. Flavonoids, including quercetin, are believed to account for the therapeutic actions of the elderberry flowers and berries. Anthocyanins are special class of bioflavonoids, which offer powerful antioxidant protection against cellular aging. Elderberry extract reduces the damaging effects of LDL, or bad cholesterol, and serves as an antioxidant for the body."


From Article #2: " Elderberry (Sambucus nigra) has been used in folk medicine for centuries to treat influenza, colds, and sinusitis. Elderberry extracts have been found to have anti-viral activity in preliminary laboratory studies. A Norwegian double-blind, placebo controlled study found that elderberry syrup (15 milliliters four times a day for 5 days) was more effective than placebo at relieving symptoms and decreased the use of rescue medication."

**Warning- you should only buy commercially prepared elderberry products, since the berries, when unripe and/or raw, and much of the plant (leaves, etc.) can be poisonous.**

So go out and find some elderberries today! (Or elderberry jam, wine, syrup, candies, etc. Did you know that Sambuca is made with them...?)

And with that, yet another VeganMoFo post right under the wire- woo!


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24 comments:

textual bulldog said...

wow, way to convince me! in my first year of grad school i was briefly excited about airborne, which worked really well for me in warding off colds (as in, miraculously well), although i know it doesn't work for many people. but then i started to think about the fact that there was god knows what in that stuff, so i just switched to drinking berry smoothies a few times a week minimum and haven't got sick yet. i know it's going i'm bound to catch something someday, though, so i'm thrilled to know about this remedy. between berry smoothies, elderberry tea, and miso soup, i may never be sick again...

Tracy said...

Hey Bazu, thanks for the tip! I love herbal and berry type teas, so if I can find these berries, I might drink this regularly just for the hell of it! I'm always looking for more natural ways to be healthy.
I know I haven't been doing much commenting lately, on your blog or anyone elses (just too busy I guess) but I want you to know I always read yours...your blog is one of the few I never miss. You are such a thoughtful person and everything you post is so well written. It is clear that you give a lot of thought to everything you write about. Keep up the great job, you inspire me!

Bridget said...

What a timely post! I will pick some up today because last night, BOOM, sneezing, stuffy nose, oh my! Why does a cold always surface when you are about ready to go back to work???

Veg*Triathlete said...

I, too, am convinced! I'm going to look for some elderberries at the co-op later today :-) By the way, I am loving VeganMoFo. Your posts have been great-- informative, mouthwatering, entertaining. I don't want November to end!

Gwenlet said...

I'm going to go buy some Sambuca and get drunk for my health!

Unilove said...

Hi Bazu :)

A day too late for me - I caught a cold and am home sick. I look forward to the berry tea for the future...

Quick question: you steeped the berries, from your pic. Can you not also eat the berries, after making the tea? Wouldn't they be re-hydrated? Jusy curious...

Melody Polakow said...

thanks for posting this...

I have not yet used Elderberries, so I will definitely give these a try.
the next time I goto the health food store, I am definitely buying some.

ChocolateCoveredVegan said...

Aww cute bunny plate :o)

the little one said...

Sambuca! My dad will be psyched to hear this. He loves Sambuca. We just had some when I was visiting for the holiday. Wonder why he rarely gets sick ;)

VeggieGirl said...

I never knew that elderberries had so much going for them!! thank you, Bazu, for sharing all this information on elderberries - I will definitely look for some, next time I'm at Whole Foods :0)

theONLYtania said...

Hmm thanks for this info. I'm definitely going to keep it in mind and pass it along to my sister, she's always getting sick!

Theresa said...

Sounds cool... I'll look for tea!

It was the other way around--instead of me in NY, my parents came to Oz. So I was pretty far from Syracuse! Next time I am in the US, though, I will aim for vegan blogger meet-ups!

stonielove said...

thank you for the wonderful tip! i'll make sure to get some elderberries next time i go grocery shopping :)

bazu said...

I hope elderberries help you guys battle winter colds and flus! I know they help me.

Unilove, to answer your question, I suppose you could eat the berries, the thought has never occurred to me! I'm not sure they would taste that great, though... if I try it, I'll let you know! ;-)

Melisser; the Urban Housewife said...

Ooh, interesting! Now if I only liked tea..

dreamy said...

Thanks for the interesting info on Elderberries :)

runswithdog said...

You have convinced me and now I gotta get some. I hate being sick! Naturetyme or the co-op?

bazu said...

Melisser, you don't have to drink it as tea, you can just have the extract in a cup of water, or make a tiny cup of the steeped stuff and gulp it down!

Trac, Naturtyme! In the bulk herbs/spices section. =)

Alexandra said...

My husband is on his way to Naturetyme to get some for me. How did you make your tea; I mean what proportions to water? Thanks

bazu said...

Hi Alexandra!
That's funny- I went to NaturTyme today, and they said they'd gotten some calls about elderberries- I'm just full of myself enough to think that might have something to do with this post- ha ha!

To make the tea, I usually put about a teaspoon (or 2) of the dried berries in an infuser, and pour hot water (anywhere from 6 - 10 oz.) over it, then let it steep until it's a nice deep red color. It doesn't really matter how much water you use, I'm guessing it's more a matter of taste, but the longer you let it steep, the stronger it will probably be.

Johanna3 said...

this is a awesome information bazu, maybe this si the solution my family need we are so sick of the cold this years. righ now we have one again!!!!!

i must find this .. thanks so much for this.

Village Vegan said...

Oooh, my mom used to make elderberry syrup. I've never tried the tea, though, but I think I will, especially since winter (and winter sniffles) are coming. I hope I can find some in Germany.

Julie said...

I just found your blog searching for info and prices on elderberry tea. I tried the tea after Thanksgiving and am now addicted to it!! The flavor is quite soothing and the benefits are excellent. :) Thanks!

FloridaHerbHouse.com said...

Hey folks! Just droppin' in to let everyone know our most recent batch of succulent elderberries (certified organic by OTA) has undergone its final freeze drying process and is available for purchase at any one of of many online stores or you can buy direct at www.SharpWebLabs.com or www.FloridaHerbHouse.com. The #1 berry for cold and flu season! Kick the swine flu in the buttocks!

SS