In the quest for new and effective dietary supplements, a lot of traditionally used medicinal herbs are finding renewed scientific interest. Elderberry, is one such plant with a lot of acclaimed health and dietary benefits.
Facts about elderberry
European elder or black elder is a common shrub in Europe with sweet-smelling flowers and shiny black berries. Historically, the flowers, berries, leaves, and bark have all been used medicinally. However, the most commonly used plant part is the flower. Botanically the plant is known as Sambucus nigra L. sub specie canadensis (L.) R Bolli or Sambucus canadensis L.
Chemicals of importance in Elderberry
Elderberry mainly contain essential oil which are reportedly richer in linoleic and linolenic acids. Contrastingly, the content of palmitic acid is appreciably low. Elderberries may also have up to 2-3 percent tannins. They are very rich in antioxidant and healthy flavonoids, particularly rutin, isoquercitrin, and hyperoside, and several anthocyanins. Approximately 0.01 percent of the berries is essential oil. Other components of importance include Sambunigrin and Sumbucin and cyanogenetic glycosides.
Important usages and benefits of elderberry
Preparations of the flowers have been used for their diaphoretic and diuretic effect as well as in the treatment of colds. In addition, the flowers and berries are used to make wine, which has been heated until hot and taken for colds. In a research carried out by few scientist in Peru and Belgium, it was conceptualized that the elderberry fruit extract is very helpful in treatment of flu caused by numerous strains of influenza virus. The German Commission E regulating herbal medicine in Germany approves the use of dried, sifted flowers for colds and feverish conditions.
The compendia published by the British Herbal Association have also listed these useful benefits of elderberry flowers. Elderberry juice which is prepared by cooking and pressing the berries is reported to have laxative as well as diuretic properties; it is also helpful in cleansing the body from toxic waste due to overstress and exercise. The juice is also considered as a very beneficial blood purifier by traditional healers.