Elderberry Extract Helps Treat and Prevent H1N1 and Other Flus

Like much of the world, I’ve been anxiously watching the H1N1 outbreak and researching like crazy to keep my family safe.  One remedy that came up again and again was elderberry.  The research is really impressive and reassuring.  I’ve ordered elderberries for a recipe I found online and will make up a batch as soon as they arrive, but you can also just purchase the extract.  If you’re interested, I put the information I found here with lots of links for sources and information.  Knowledge is power, and I feel much more prepared with this information. 

For more information about symptoms and when to seek medical attention, see this article.

5 Comments

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5 responses to “Elderberry Extract Helps Treat and Prevent H1N1 and Other Flus

  1. Anonymous

    Thanks!
    This is great info. We’re already loading up on vitamin D. I think I’ll pick up some Sambucol for my husband. I had never heard of it before. I am disappointed that the website says you shouldn’t use it while breastfeeding. I think I’ll ask my midwives anyway.

    • Re: Thanks!
      Elderberries are safe for BFing moms so I’m guessing they say that as a legal precaution. In any case, you could make elderberry syrup like the one I linked. It’s just dried elderberries, honey and water (make sure you follow the directions and cook them, since raw ones can cause stomach upset). Since pregnant women are at increased risk from H1N1 I would personally go for it, but that’s just me. Definitely ask your midwives. Good luck!

      • Anonymous

        Re: Thanks!
        I am confused because some sites say it is okay and some say that it isn’t. Also, I just found this http://the-health-gazette.com/496/natural-antivirals/ saying elderberries should be avoided to avoid a “cytokine storm”. This doesn’t seem to be about H1N1 though. What do you think?

      • Re: Thanks!
        A couple of the links in the article address the concern about cytokine storms. Here’s an excerpt from one:
        “A valid concern registered by some is the possibility of cytokine storms initiated by black elderberry’s immune boosting capability. So far, there have been no reports of that activity. Besides, it appears that cytokine storms are usually a result of the type of flu virus strain rather than from the use of any herbal or natural cure.
        Dr. Gabriel Cousens states that cytokine storms are actually a result of an imbalance between TH-1 and TH-2, which are cells that attack pathogenic invaders. The TH-1 cells go after pathogens in the cells while the TH-2 cells attack pathogens in the blood system. There is another natural preventative remedy for the potential cytokine storm.
        Zinc helps correct this TH-1 and TH-2 imbalance by re-establishing a hormonal balance, greatly reducing the potential of a cytokine storm. There is good evidence that zinc salts also dramatically potentiate the action of the human cytokine interferon alpha, a type of protein that inhibits viral replication. Thus the immune system is less challenged, less likely to be overwhelmed, and free to handle immediate and present dangers.
        Zinc is an essential component of the specific SOD or superoxide dismutase enzymes, oxygen radical scavengers. These scavengers can significantly reduce mortality rates following a lung infection, possibly even if from a cytokine storm.”
        http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_18105.cfm
        So if you’re concerned, you can take a zinc supplement to be safe but it sounds like it’s not a big risk.
        Basically, a cytokine storm is the result of a healthy immune system fighting a very aggressive illness and overreacting (which some scientists have hypothesized is the reason this flu has killed a disproportionate number of young and healthy people). But it’s the faulty reaction to the invader, not having a good immune system that leads to problems, and so far there have not been any links found between using remedies that help build a strong immune system and cytokine storms. Saying that elderberries could cause cytokine storms is basically saying “they’ll make my body too healthy.” It’s an interesting guess to make, but only a guess and not backed up by any cases where anybody thinks it has happened so far.
        If you are worried about cytokine storms then you would want to avoid any natural remedy that would boost your immune system, not just elderberries, by the way.
        Here’s more info on cytokine storms: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cytokine_storm
        I hope that makes sense. I know it’s pretty confusing!

      • Anonymous

        Re: Thanks!
        It does make sense! I really appreciate all of the info. Thanks again!

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