A new study by researchers at the University of Sydney’s Faculty of Engineering and IT have found that compounds contained in elderberries can directly inhibit the flu virus’s entry and also replication in human cells. These compounds can additionally help strengthen the immune response to this virus. While modern scientists have struggled to explain the medicinal benefits of herbal products and folk medicine, these methods have been used for millennia to help combat a variety of ailments.
Although the flu fighting properties of the elderberry fruit have been previously observed, the team sought to perform a more comprehensive examination of the mechanisms through which phytochemicals found in elderberries can help combat the flu virus.
The study involved the use of commercially farmed elderberries which were made into a juice serum. This serum was applied to cells at all stages after they had been infected with the flu virus…before, during and after. The phytochemicals from the juice were shown to be effective at stopping the flu virus infecting the cells.
And surprisingly to the research team, they were even more effective at inhibiting viral propagation at the later stages of the flu cycle when the cells had been infected with the virus. The study showed that this common fruit has a direct and potent antiviral effect against the flu. It inhibits the initial sages of the infection by blocking key viral proteins that are responsible for viral attachment and entry into host cells.
In addition, the team identified that the solution from the elderberry also stimulated the cells to release certain cytokines. These are chemical messengers which the immune system uses for communication between different cells types in an effort to coordinate a better response against invading pathogens.
They also found that the antiviral activity of the elderberry can be attributed to its anthocyanidin compounds. These are phytonutrients which are responsible for the vivid purple coloring of the fruit.
The elderberry which is also known as sambucus nigra, is an antioxidant rich fruit most common to North America and Europe. It is commonly consumed as wine or jam. For the medicinal benefits, elderberry extract is available in table or syrup form.
The flu virus is one of the leading cause of worldwide mortality. It affects almost 10% of the world’s population and contributes to one million deaths on an annual basis.
To view the original scientific study click here: Anti-influenza activity of elderberry.