I think we have all been guilty of flippantly throwing around the “f” word. Yes, you know what I mean, you have a bit of a runny nose and can’t think of anything worse than trudging into the office so you phone the boss and tell them you have the “flu”. It’s not really lying, it’s just exaggerating, as a very mild flu could potentially masquerade as a bit of the sniffles but in most cases they are poles apart.
The common cold is an inflammation of the mucous membranes caused by a plethora of different types of viruses. Catching a cold is pretty easy; it’s as simple as inadvertently inhaling the sneeze of someone infected, or by touching your nose, eyes, or mouth after coming into contact with some bugs. Colds tend to come on slowly with a scratchy throat and a drippy nose and although you may be fatigued or a bit achy, most symptoms are above the neck.
Whilst equally easy to catch, the flu on the other hand is an altogether different, more vicious, viral beast. Flu symptoms are quick to take hold and are more severe than the common cold. The classic symptoms of flu include sore throat, high fever, headache, body aches and soreness, congestion, dry cough and often diarrhoea and vomiting. Not very pleasant, and definitely not a just a cold.
So enough of a biology lesson! What can you do to reduce the signs and symptoms of a cold or the dreaded flu after it has already pounced on you?
Well, aside from eating wholesome foods (if you can), making sure you are drinking adequate fluids and getting some vitamin c and zinc into you, one age old herbal helper could help.
The Elder tree has been a mystical and glorified plant across many continents and peoples for many thousands of years. In fact, during the Middle Ages it was believed that a beautiful goddess lived in the tree and from there she decided your luck, prosperity, happiness and health. It also has a firm footing in many ancient medical tomes where the ripe berries were used in the treatment of all kinds of maladies from smallpox to the plague to poisoning and the all too common fevers, colds and flu.
More recently, research has shown that elderberry syrup can indeed help support people who may have come down with the dreaded bot. In fact scientific studies have shown that those flu patients given elderberry syrup over a three day period were quickly supported back to a healthy state without experiencing any unwanted side effects.
So how does elderberry support an ailing immune system and get you back on top sooner? Does it spur the Elder good health goddess into action, or is there some other more scientific explanation?
Well, those scientists have come up with the answers again! It's seems that black elderberry contains plant chemicals called flavonoids which help subdue virus replication so that your “under pressure” immune system has a chance to clobber them. It doesn’t actually stop with viruses; it also has a pretty good action against bacteria which often take up residence in ears and chests after a virus has come to visit.
So naturopathically, black elderberry kicks goals as it treats the cause of the illness but does it help with the symptoms that have you feeling miserable? It seems yes, as black elderberry contains other nifty compounds called anthocyanins which have an anti-inflammatory effect; this could explain why it is great for supporting those poor folks trying to deal with the ills, chills and aches which accompany a dose of the flu.
So when winter rolls around and it seems like the whole country is coughing and spluttering, pull out your little secret bottle of black elderberry elixir to keep the good Elder goddess looking out for you and your family.
By Rachel Dawson Dip Nutrition Dip Herb Med (Hons)
You may also be interested in the Diffusing the viral takeover bid with black elderberry blog article.
Nature’s Way Sambucus Original and Sambucus for Kids contain an extract of the European black elder or elderberry (Sambucus nigra L.). Sambucus is the world’s best selling and most extensively researched black elderberry extract and is produced with a patented process which uniquely isolates the key active constituent of elderberries.
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Have you tried an elderberry supplement for colds and flu?
If so did you experience the benefits you were expecting?