Elderberry tincture has long been known as the 'poor man's medicine chest' for its usefulness, but especially its efficacy in treating cold and flu symptoms. Long used throughout Europe and the Americas, elderberry has a long and respected history as an herbal remedy. Both Pliny the Elder and Hippocrates mentioned and recommended elderberry as a medicinal herb in their writings.
The Poor Man's Cure
Elderberry(Sambuca nigra) grows throughout Europe, North America, parts of Asia and Africa. Other names for elderberry include elder, black elder, elder flower and sambucas. The berries and flowers of this tree are used to make herbal medicine as well as flavors to enhance beverages. The berries taken straight from the tree are poisonous, but when properly cooked, are safe to eat. You may even come across recipes for elderberry pie in older cookbooks as many housewives made special pies after properly preparing the berries.
The plant parts must be prepared properly to eliminate potentially poisonous toxins, but elderberry purchased through a reliable supplement or herbal products manufacturer should be fine for most people to take. Unless you have a known allergy to elderberry, simply consult your doctor to ensure no potential drug interactions or other negative impacts on your health before using elderberry tincture. The only known potential side effect of elderberry is that it acts as a diuretic, so if you are taking diuretics or have bladder or kidney problems, discuss using elderberry with your physician before taking this herbal remedy.
Uses of Elderberry
Elderberry has a very long history in herbal medicine as a cure for colds, coughs and flus. Elderberry tincture, capsules or dried powdered are often taken along with several other herbs when a cold or flu threatens. According to the National Center for Complimentary and Integrative Health, the European elder is most commonly used for supplements. It's also the elderberry tincture most frequently studied for its effect on cold and flu viruses.The most common uses for elderberry tincture include treatment for:
- Common cold
- Influenza (flu)
- Sinus infections
Scientific Research on Elderberry
Promising scientific research has begun on the use of elderberry tincture to shorten the duration and severity of colds and flus, but no reliable conclusions may be drawn from the preliminary studies. Scientists from Hebrew University - Hadassah Medical School in Jerusalem conducted a study in which 60 men and women who were suffering with the flu took either elderberry tincture or a placebo. Those who took the elderberry got better faster, on average about twice as fast as those who received the placebo. They also used fewer pain medications such as aspirin and other medications to control flu symptoms.
Another study conducted in Oslo, Norway, showed similar results. In this study, those who received the elderberry recovered more than twice as fast as those who did not receive elderberry, on average three days as compared to seven days for the placebo group.
Combining Elderberry Tincture With Other Herbs To Combat Flu
Two studies are too small a research pool for serious scientists to draw conclusions and make recommendations. The results, however, neatly back up many centuries of folkloric use of this wonderful herb.
If you choose to use elderberry tincture to combat a cold or flu, you may wish to combine it with other healing herbs useful to boost the immune system. Echinacea and goldenseal, for example, are recommended for infections, particularly upper respiratory infections. Other herbs may be comforting herbal teas, such as chamomile, and herbal remedies for bronchitis. Whatever natural remedies you choose, be sure to see your doctor for advice and especially if symptoms persist for several days.