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It's that time of year again, cold and flu season. Many of us are looking for ways to boost our immune system to stay healthy through these winter months.

Naturopathic prevention and treatment of the cold and flu virus include vitamins and minerals, botanical medicine, and lifestyle recommendations. Sambucus nigra with its common name, European or Black Elder, may be the cultivar most often used for medicinal purposes throughout the world and have been a staple of folk medicine for centuries. Elderberries have been used to boost the immune system and treat respiratory illnesses like the flu and cold.

Scientific studies(1) have shown that the elderberry superfruit and flowers are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants which may prevent or shorten the severity and duration of colds, the flu, sinus infections, and allergy relief.

Elderberries are a low-calorie food packed with antioxidants and have many nutritional benefits. While the exact amount of nutrients in elderberries depends on the exact plant, ripeness, and area they are grown, elderberries are:

  • High in Vitamin-C. Fresh elderberries are an excellent source of Vitamin-C. There are up to 36 mg of Vitamin-C per 100 grams of fruit, which accounts for up to 60% of the recommended daily intake.
  • High in dietary fiber. Elderberries contain 7 grams of fiber per 100 grams of fresh berries, which is over one-quarter of the recommended daily intake.
  • A rich source of antioxidants including phenolic acids, flavonols, and anthocyannins. These antioxidant properties may help prevent damage to the body’s cells and offer anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, and anti-cancer benefits.

The cold and flu virus can affect anyone. According to IRI, 69 percent of consumers say they take immunity boosting supplements to keep the body strong and healthy during the cold and flu season.

In addition to dietary factors, a flu shot, good hand washing practices, getting adequate sleep, and regular physical activity are critically important factors in fighting against cold and flu.

References:(1) Randomized study of the efficacy and safety of oral elderberry extract in the treatment of influenza A and B virus infections.