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Elderberry – Sambucus nigra

You may have recently seen me in the Manly Daily and Daily Telegraph defending Elderberry Syrup!  This may be hard to believe but it’s true.  Someone wrote an email expressing concern that my promotion of Elderberry syrup should not be considered as an alternative to the Flu Shot. I was interviewed by a journalist who worked for the Telegraph and Manly Daily who then printed a few articles about my position regarding Elderberry syrup and the facts surrounding it’s immune supporting properties.

Elderberry syrup was never meant to be an alternative to the Flu Shot but simply used to support your immunity this winter. We have had a huge amount of people knocked down by the flu this season and who doesn’t need some extra support in the winter months?

What we know:

As far as the evidence shows Elderberry syrup is a safe and well researched herb that has been used traditionally for immune support. I have just a few links below from many I could have posted as it is in fact one of the most researched herbs. There is a link to a recent Sydney University Study here showing how valuable Elderberry is against viruses like the common cold. Elderberry has been found in many cases to reduce the severity and duration of a cold or flu. It’s actions are anti-viral, Immune modulating, antibacterial & anti-inflammatory.

The berries have a beautiful purplish red colour and this is one herbal extract that does taste wonderful! The berries are rich in phenolics which are the preferred food for our beneficial gut bacteria.  So not only do Elderberries protect our immune system but help our gut too! Come in for a free taste test if you do not believe me!

Constituents of the berries include the polyphenolic antioxidant flavonoids quercetin and rutin, anthocyanins (responsible for the colour of the fruit) identified as cyanidin-3-glucoside and cyanidin-3sambubioside, the hemagglutinin protein Sambucus nigra agglutinin III (SNA-III), cyanogenic glycosides including sambunigrin, viburnic acid and vitamins (A, B1, B2, B6, B9, C and E), trace elements such as Cu, Zn, Fe and minerals such as K, Ca and Mg to phytochemicals such as carotenoids, phytosterols and polyphenols.


Various parts of the elder plant have been used for thousands of years by Native Americans and people of the Mediterranean basin and surrounding regions. It continues to be commonly gathered as a food and medicine and, according to ethnobotanical research, is currently one of the most used medicinal plants worldwide where the berries are used primarily as antiviral agents for colds, influenza and Herpes virus infection. Elder flowers and berries have long been used in the English countryside for making many homemade drinks and preserves. Clinical research now shows that some elderberry extracts might reduce flu-like symptoms, have antiviral, immunomodulating and antioxidant effects and insulin-stimulating properties.

(Thank you Herbal Extract Company who supplies our Elderberry

If you would like to try some Elderberry Syrup come in to our Apothecary in Waratah Court and have a taste test.

100mls of Elderberry Syrup is only $35.

It mixes well with soda water, in plain water, fresh juice or simply have it neat. Children love the taste!

All Green Door Health Patients and Friends can claim 10% with the code word:


elderberry drawing green door health

Stay Well !

Fin Mackenzie – Naturopath & Herbalist

BHSc(CompMed), ADNat, DNut, DRM, MATMS



Channel 7 Recently did a segment on the cutting edge research from Sydney University just out…

Also an excellent article with links…

Zakay-Rones Z, Varsano N, Zlotnik M, et al. Inhibition of several strains of influenza virus in vitro and reduction of symptoms by an elderberry extract (Sambucus Nigra L.) during an outbreak of Influenza B Panama. J Altern Complement Med. 1995;1(4):361–9.

Zakay-Rones Z, Thom E, Wollan T, Wadstein J. Randomized study of the efficacy and safety of oral elderberry extract in the treatment of Influenza A and B virus infections.” J Int Med Res. 2004;32(2):132-40.

Roschek Jr. B, Fink RC, McMichael MD, et al. Elderberry flavonoids bind to and prevent H1N1 infection in vitro. Phytochemistry. 2009;70(10):1255-61. doi: 10.1016/j.phytochem.2009.06.003.

And a few more….

“Sambucol was shown to be effective in vitro against 10 strains of influenza virus. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized study, Sambucol reduced the duration of flu symptoms to 3-4 days. Convalescent phase serum showed a higher antibody level to influenza virus in the Sambucol group, than in the control group.”

A standardized elderberry extract, Sambucol® (SAM), reduced hemagglutination and inhibited replication of human influenza viruses type A/Shangdong 9/93 (H3N2), A/Beijing 32/92 (H3N2), A/Texas 36/91 (HlNl), A/Singapore 6/86 (HlNl), type B/Panama 45/90, B/Yamagata 16/88, B/Ann Arbor 1/86, and of animal strains from Northern European swine and turkeys, A/Sw/Ger 2/81, A/Tur/Ger 3/91, and A/Sw/Ger 8533/91 in Madin–Darby canine kidney cells. A placebo-controlled, double blind study was carried out on a group of individuals living in an agricultural community (kibbutz) during an outbreak of influenza B/Panama in 1993. Fever, feeling of improvement, and complete cure were recorded during 6 days. Sera obtained in the acute and convalescent phases were tested for the presence of antibodies to influenza A, B, respiratory syncytial, and adenoviruses. Convalescent phase serologies showed higher mean and mean geometric hemagglutination inhibition (HI) titers to influenza B in the group treated with SAM than in the control group. A significant improvement of the symptoms, including fever, was seen in 93.3% of the cases in the SAM-treated group within 2 days, whereas in the control group 91.7% of the patients showed an improvement within 6 days (p < 0.001). A complete cure was achieved within 2 to 3 days in nearly 90% of the SAM-treated group and within at least 6 days in the placebo group (p< 0.001). No satisfactory medication to cure influenza type A and B is available. Considering the efficacy of the extract in vitro on all strains of influenza virus tested, the clinical results, its low cost, and absence of side-effects, this preparation could offer a possibility for safe treatment for influenza A and B.

Elderberry has been used in folk medicine for centuries to treat influenza, colds and sinusitis, and has been reported to have antiviral activity against influenza and herpes simplex. We investigated the efficacy and safety of oral elderberry syrup for treating influenza A and B infections. Sixty patients (aged 18-54 years) suffering from influenza-like symptoms for 48 h or less were enrolled in this randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study during the influenza season of 1999-2000 in Norway. Patients received 15 ml of elderberry or placebo syrup four times a day for 5 days, and recorded their symptoms using a visual analogue scale. Symptoms were relieved on average 4 days earlier and use of rescue medication was significantly less in those receiving elderberry extract compared with placebo. Elderberry extract seems to offer an efficient, safe and cost-effective treatment for influenza. These findings need to be confirmed in a larger study.

“Intercontinental air travel can be stressful, especially for respiratory health. Elderberries have been used traditionally, and in some observational and clinical studies, as supportive agents against the common cold and influenza. This randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial of 312 economy class passengers travelling from Australia to an overseas destination aimed to investigate if a standardised membrane filtered elderberry (Sambucus nigra L.) extract has beneficial effects on physical, especially respiratory, and mental health. Cold episodes, cold duration and symptoms were noted in a daily diary and assessed using the Jackson score. Participants also completed three surveys containing questions regarding upper respiratory symptoms (WURSS-21) and quality of life (SF-12) at baseline, just before travel and at 4-days after travel. Most cold episodes occurred in the placebo group (17 vs. 12), however the difference was not significant (p = 0.4). Placebo group participants had a significantly longer duration of cold episode days (117 vs. 57, p = 0.02) and the average symptom score over these days was also significantly higher (583 vs. 247, p = 0.05). These data suggest a significant reduction of cold duration and severity in air travelers. More research is warranted to confirm this effect and to evaluate elderberry’s physical and mental health benefits.”

Black elderberries (Sambucus nigra L.) are well known as supportive agents against common cold and influenza. It is further known that bacterial super-infection during an influenza virus (IV) infection can lead to severe pneumonia. We have analyzed a standardized elderberry extract (Rubini, BerryPharma AG) for its antimicrobial and antiviral activity using the microtitre broth micro-dilution assay against three Gram-positive bacteria and one Gram-negative bacteria responsible for infections of the upper respiratory tract, as well as cell culture experiments for two different strains of influenza virus.

Green Door Health Herbal Apothecary & Clinic

24/12-14 Waratah St, Mona Vale NSW 2103

02 99799888


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