One of the most medicinal trees in the world today is in the Sambucus genus, and you will want to know the health benefits of elderberry (Sambucus nigra). Although there are many species of the Elderberry plant in the world today, they all have a medicinal purpose, but the most medicinal of them all is Sambucus nigra, commonly grown in North America and Europe. It is effective in treating illnesses, even some you will find hard to believe.
The health benefits of elderberry are derived from consuming the juice gotten from the berries, leaves, flowers, or trunk, after they have been cooked and the juice extracted. However, the most commonly used part of the plant is the berries, as it contains a lesser amount of toxic substances than other parts of the plant.
The question that may be burning at the back of your mind now is, why use elderberry when it contains some level of toxicity? To answer this question, we will have to highlight the nutrition information that is available on elderberry. That will help you understand the health benefits of elderberry and why you should consider using it. In essence, you will get to know the various health benefits attached to using elderberry and the nutrients responsible for the benefits you can derive from them, in this article.
What You Should Know About Elderberry
Elderberry is a widely grown tree around the world. Its different species are known to be medicinal, however, the species grown in Europe and North America, Sambucus nigra, is the most medicinal of them all. Its origin is unknown but its use dates back to around 400 BC. It was commonly used among the Egyptians to improve their skin complexions and treat burns.
It is also used to treat rheumatism and fever in alternative medicine but today, it is mostly used as a supplement to treat cold and flu. The flowers, leaves and fruits are often heated in water and served as tea to supplement for some nutrients that may be useful in treating simple illnesses.
Although these parts are commonly used, they can be toxic as a certain amount can cause stomach upset, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. The seed is especially toxic and is mostly avoided. This is because it, and other parts – although to a lesser degree – contains cyanogenic glycosides, a compound also found in other plants such as cassava. This does not mean they can’t be consumed, they can, only in moderation.
Elderberry also contains anthocyanidins, it gives it its characteristic purple color which becomes red when diluted with water. They are commonly used as natural colorants in some foods since they are approved by the United States Food and Drugs Administration, USFDA.
Nutrition Info on Elderberry
Elderberry is abundant in nutrient, some nutrients actually, but is quite low in others. Ordinarily, one would think a plant regarded as a medicinal plant and suitable as a supplement will have an immense amount of the macro nutrients. However, it is low in nutrients such as proteins and fats.
Here is a detailed nutrition information on elderberries.
|Energy||305 kJ (73 kCal)|
|Vitamin A||30 µg|
|Vitamin B1||0.07 mg|
|Vitamin B2||0.06 mg|
|Vitamin B3||0.5 mg|
|Vitamin B5||0.14 mg|
|Vitamin B6||0.23 mg|
|Vitamin B9||6 µg|
|Vitamin C||36 mg|
This nutrition info is based on 100 g of elderberries. Each berry contains water, mostly, and is rich in vitamins and minerals. Vitamin C and Potassium are exceptionally, making them provide way more than the daily recommended dosage.
Health Benefits of Elderberry
Considering the immense amounts of vitamins and minerals elderberry contains, it is safe to say it is a good supplement for micro nutrients and will go a long way in addressing many nutritional deficiencies. However, these nutrients will also be able to give some health benefits of elderberry to its users.
Improves the Immune System
The immune system is the body’s defense system against any possible threat such as disease-causing pathogens. Sometimes, the strength of the defense system is down and needs to be boosted with some nutrients. Chief among these nutrients is vitamin C.
Vitamin C, one of the nutrients elderberries is rich in, is an antioxidant, that helps to rid the body of free radicals, and consequently helping the immune system regain its strength.
Due to the amount of vitamin c, more than 40 times more than the required daily dosage, one of the health benefits of elderberry is immune system boost.
Treats Cold and Flu Symptoms
For a long time now, elderberry has been used to treat symptoms of flu and cold, which includes nasal congestion, running nose, headache, and many more. Ordinarily, flu is impossible to treat specifically, only the symptoms can be addressed, to improve the way the affected person feels.
With elderberry, the immense amount of vitamin C and the presence of minerals such as zinc and magnesium help to improve the symptoms.
Improves cardiac health
The cardiac system is made of muscles that need to be regularly supplied with the right nutrients and rid of unwanted fats to help them function optimally. The beating of the heart creates pressure in the arteries, and to maintain the health of these arteries and vein, including the heart itself, there’s need for minerals that help to control this action.
One of the health benefits of elderberry, improvement of cardiac health, is only possible because it contains minerals such as potassium and magnesium, which influence the pumping action of the heart.
They also help to burn unwanted fats and calories. Also, due to the fact elderberries are low in fat, they are excellent for improving heart health.
Protects the skin
Elderberry has been used to treat burns for a very long time. However, there are also skincare products that contain elderberries, harnessing their ability to improve skin conditions due to its high level of vitamin C.
Also, it helps to shield the skin from the harmful effects of the UV rays from the sun.
May help improve mood
Elderberry has been tested on some mice and they have been found to improve the mood of the mice. Although, it has not been proven to have the same effect on humans, it may be a medication for the treatment of depression and anxiety.
Risks of using Elderberry
The risk attached with elderberry use is in the cyanogenic glucosides it contains. While it is not generally toxic when used in low quantities, it is impossible to quantify how much of it is too much when one is preparing an elderberry tea or tincture. Although these glucosides have their benefits and they give elderberry some of the health benefits it has, they can be tricky to use without guidance.
An overdose on the glucosides can cause reactions such as nausea, weakness, vomiting, diarrhea, and general stomach upset.
The health benefits of elderberry go way back in history and is widely known among different people in different parts of the world. However, scientific proof of these health benefits is inadequate. It is, therefore, important to exercise caution in the use of this plant.
To enjoy the health benefits of elderberry, ensure that you consult your doctor to determine if it is safe for you to use it.