Living Center Oregon

Sustainable Living Center Oregon

Elderberries: Liquid Coronavirus Flu Shot?

There are no studies on building up a person’s immunity to prevent getting the Coronavirus, but there are studies on the effects of Elderberry on the normal flu.  The Sustainable Living Center has been testing if it is true that Elderberry can prevent a person from getting the flu.

Two members of our Sustainable Living Center are over 70 years of age have been taking Elderberry syrup daily for the last six years.  They did not get a flu shot.  They have never gotten a cold, let along the flu during the six years. 

Vitamin \ D:
Q: If I take vitamin D, should I stop it during this pandemic?

A: Many people are deficient in vitamin D and supplement with this vitamin to become sufficient. Vitamin D sufficiency is an important part of optimal immune function, bone health, and brain health. However, when the body is experiencing significant inflammation, such as can occur in some people who become severely sick from COVID-19 infection, vitamin D should be temporarily discontinued. This is because vitamin D can activate the specific inflammation pathway and inflammatory molecule, IL-1B, which characterizes and contributes to symptomatic COVID-19 infection. The vitamin D should be discontinued while symptoms are present and can be resumed upon return to health.

Q: Why is elderberry considered safe for prevention but recommended to stop with symptoms or positive COVID-19 test results?

A: Elderberry extracts may help to prevent the early stage of corona virus infections, which includes COVID-19. Elderberry contains compounds which decrease the ability of viruses to infect cells. Elderberry is considered generally safe and in influenza B (cause of common cold), use of elderberry shortens the duration of symptoms. However, as a part of its immune supportive actions, elderberry increases immune cell release of tiny chemicals called cytokines. Specifically, elderberry increases the release of a cytokine called IL-1B which is a part of the inflammatory reaction to COVID-19 that can result in acute respiratory distress. For this reason, to minimize the possibility that elderberry could aggravate the inflammatory “cytokine storm” associated with the more severe COVID-19 infections, it is recommended to stop elderberry at the first signs of infection (fever, cough, sore throat) and/or if you test positive for the virus.

Q: Is the cytokine suppression provided by Boswellia serrata helpful in cases of COVID-19 infection?

A: Boswellia serrata, commonly known as Frankincense, is an herb with significant anti-inflammatory effects. The resin from the trunk and bark of this tree has compounds in it which inhibit an inflammatory pathway driven by an enzyme called 5-lipoxygenase, or 5-LOX. Inflammation which is driven by 5-LOX can result in painful joints in arthritis and inflammation in various inflammatory bowel diseases. It is also true that Boswellia extracts have been studied for asthma and found to improve pulmonary function, reduce asthma attack frequency and decrease inhaler usage. This would suggest that Boswellia may, in fact, be helpful especially for someone with asthma as a way to reduce lung inflammation during prevention of Covid-19. Pre-clinical studies have shown that Boswellia extracts inhibit a broad range of inflammatory cytokines which suggests that this herb is unlikely to be harmful, and may in fact, be helpful in someone with mild symptoms of Covid-19 infection.

Q. Does zinc help?

Zinc: Coronavirus appear to be susceptible to the viral inhibitory actions of zinc. Zinc may prevent coronavirus entry into cells8 and appears to reduce coronavirus virulence.9. Typical daily dosing of zinc is 15mg – 30mg daily with lozenges potentially providing direct protective effects in the upper respiratory tract.

No, it does not prove that it works, but it did make a person feel more hopeful that they might not get the Coronavirus.

Their special recipe is now made with three (3) flavors of honey: Clover, Blackberry or Wild Flower.   All the ingredients are Organic and all the spices are from Ceylon.

One can purchase the Elderberry Syrup over the counter at your local drug or grocery store in the price range of $2.31 – $3.27/oz.  For example

7.8 oz bottle of Sambucol Black Elderberry Syrup online at = $17.39.

7.8 oz Make it yourself = $4.60

Make some – You will like it

For centuries, elderberries have been used for their potential health benefits, which likely stem from their superior antioxidant capacity.  It is higher than blueberries! Black elderberry is said to possess antioxidant properties that may protect healthy cells from free radical damage.

growBlack elderberry may support normal immune function – which is why elderberry syrup, elderberry lozenges, and elderberry supplements are so popular during the winter months when everyone seems to be coughing and sneezing.

Since most parts of the plant are toxic, caution is suggested and cooking the elderberries before consuming is always a wise choice. The branches, leaves, and twigs of all species contain trace elements of cyanide, which can build up in your body and eventually kill you, so be careful!

Despite the implicit risks of elderberries, they are packed with beneficial nutrients, so they have been a part of traditional medicine for hundreds of years, and some of the health benefits have even made it into the mainstream. The recent popularity of elderberries can largely be attributed to the discovery of its many health benefits.  Elderberries packed with nutrients including minerals like iron, potassium, phosphorous, and copper, as well as vitamins, such as vitamin A, B, and C, as well as proteins and dietary fiber. Add some of the beneficial organic compounds that function as anti-inflammatory and antioxidant agents in the body, and you have one powerful berry!

Elderberries are used this time of year to support immune health.* This syrup is wonderful when sipped for herbal purposes, but it is also amazing as a pancake or waffle syrup or used in place of a simple syrup in a delicious cocktail. I like to pour about ¼ cup in a tall glass or pantry jar and fill with ginger ale or club soda for a refreshing beverage!

This recipe is easy to multiply if you’d like to make a big batch to store or give as gifts. These glass pantry jars and amber bottles are great choices.

sypeClassic Elderberry Syrup Recipe

  • 2/3 cup dried black elderberries (about 3 ounces)
  • 3 1/2 cups of water
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh or dried ginger root
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves or clove powder
  • 1 cup raw honey (we get from our farmer’s market)
  • Pour water into medium saucepan and add elderberries, ginger, cinnamon and cloves (do not add honey!)
  • Bring to a boil and then cover and reduce to a simmer for about 45 minutes to an hour until the liquid has reduced by almost half.
  • Remove from heat and let cool enough to be handled. Mash the berries carefully using a spoon or other flat utensil.
  • Pour through a strainer into a glass jar or bowl.
  • Discard the elderberries (or compost them!) and let the liquid cool to lukewarm.
  • When it is no longer hot, add 1 cup of honey and stir well.  When honey is well mixed into the elderberry mixture.
  • Pour the syrup into a quart sized mason jar or 16-ounce glass bottle of some kind

Store in the fridge and take daily for its immune boosting properties. Some sources recommend taking only during the week and not on the weekends to boost immunity.

The standard dose is ½ tsp to 1 tsp for kids over 6 years and ½ Tbsp to 1 Tbsp for adults. If the flu does strike, take the normal dose every 2-3 hours instead of once a day until symptoms disappear.  Keep in mind that the half-life of the active components in elderberry treatments is only a couple of hours total, so frequent dosing is required. As a result, one dose per day will not be effective. 

Studies have found that elderberry eases flu symptoms like fever, headache, sore throat, fatigue, cough, and body aches. The benefits seem to be greatest when started within 24 to 48 hours after the symptoms begin. One study found that elderberry could cut the duration of flu symptoms by more than 50%.

Lab studies have found that elderberry might be effective against H1N1, or swine flu.

A few studies have suggested that elderberry could help with bacterial sinus infections or bronchitis. More research needs to be done.


People use elderberry for high cholesterol, HIV, and many other conditions. For now, we don’t have good evidence to support these uses.

Aid Digestion

Although most fruits and vegetables can help you hit your fiber goals for the day, few fruits can boast more than 40% of your daily requirements for fiber in a single serving. Elderberries are packed with dietary fiber that can help eliminate constipation, reduce excess gas, and generally increase the health of your gastrointestinal system. Fiber can also help to increase the nutrient uptake efficiency in your gut so you get more out of your food!

Improve Cardiovascular Health

It seems that heart health and fruits and vegetables go hand in hand, and with good reason. The high fiber levels help to eliminate excess cholesterol from the system and make room for “good” cholesterol that the body needs. This can help eliminate the chances of developing atherosclerosis and other cardiovascular issues. The high level of potassium in elderberries also protects the heart by relaxing the tension of blood vessels and arteries. As a vasodilator, potassium can significantly reduce blood pressure and keep your heart healthy!

Double-Blind Study

In a recent study, the intake of elderberry juice resulted in a significant decrease in serum cholesterol concentrations and an increase in low-density lipoprotein (LDL) stability. This study was designed to verify the preliminary results.

The impact of elderberry juice on cholesterol and triglyceride concentrations as well as antioxidant status in a cohort of young volunteers.

Study A: The randomized, placebo-controlled trial for studying the effect of anthocyanins on lipid and antioxidant status, 34 subjects took capsules with 400 mg spray-dried powder containing 10% anthocyanins t.i.d. equivalent to 5 ml elderberry juice for 2 weeks. A subgroup of 14 subjects continued for an additional week to test for resistance to oxidation of LDL.

Study B: To investigate the short-term effects on serum lipid concentrations, six subjects took a single dose of 50 ml of elderberry juice (equivalent to 10 capsules) along with a high-fat breakfast. In the placebo-controlled study, there was only a small, statistically not significant change in cholesterol concentrations in the elderberry group (from 199 to 190 mg/dl) compared to the placebo group (from 192 to 196 mg/dl). The resistance to copper-induced oxidation of LDL did not change within 3 weeks. In the single-dose experiment increases in postprandial triglyceride concentrations were not significantly different when the six subjects were investigated with and without elderberry juice. Elderberry spray-dried extract at a low dose exerts a minor effect on serum lipids and antioxidative capacity. Higher, but nutritionally relevant doses might significantly reduce postprandial serum lipids.
Discover the world’s research effects of elderberry juice on fasting and postprandial serum lipids and low-density lipoprotein oxidation in healthy volunteers: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study

Improve Respiratory Health

When it comes to clearing up a sore throat, a cough, cold, bronchitis, or any other issue that affects your respiratory system, elderberry juice might be your best choice. Like many cough syrups, they contain active ingredients (bioflavonoids like anthocyanins, to be exact) that can soothe inflammation and irritation and also act as an expectorant and clear out phlegm that can trap foreign agents in your glands. Elderberry juice is even recommended for people with asthma.

Influenza Studies

Double-Blind Study

We investigated the efficacy and safety of oral elderberry syrup for treating influenza A and B infections. Sixty patients (aged 18-54 years) suffering from influenza-like symptoms for 48 h or less were enrolled in this randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study during the influenza season of 1999-2000 in Norway. Patients received 15 ml of elderberry or placebo syrup four times a day for 5 days and recorded their symptoms using a visual analog scale. Symptoms were relieved on average 4 days earlier and use of rescue medication was significantly less in those receiving elderberry extract compared with placebo. Elderberry extract seems to offer an efficient, safe and cost-effective treatment for influenza.

Another Double-Blind Study

In 2004, the Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School conducted a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study on the efficacy of elderberry for the treatment of Influenza A and B.  Sixty patients with confirmed flu-like symptoms enrolled in the study; half of the participants received 15 ml of elderberry syrup four times a day for five days and the other half received a placebo.  Individuals who were given elderberry experienced relief from their flu symptoms an average of four days earlier than those who had received a placebo containing no elderberry.

Another Double-Blind Study

Forty patients suffering from influenza-like symptoms during an outbreak of influenza B/Panama in 1993 were randomly assigned to receive, in a double-blind fashion, elderberry extract or placebo. Children received 30 ml per day and adults received 60 ml per day for three days. Twenty-seven patients completed the trial. After two days of treatment, a higher proportion of patients in the active treatment group than in the placebo group had experienced significant improvement in symptoms (93% vs. 25%). Symptoms resolved completely after three days in 87% of patients receiving active treatment and in 33% of those receiving placebo.

Another Double-Blind Study

In 2016 study cold symptoms among travelers and found that when elderberry syrup supplementation was compared to placebo, it produced significant differences in overall health. The elderberry syrup treatment group experienced a total of 57 days of illness (compared to the 117 days in the placebo group) and on a rating scale of symptoms, experienced a severity of 247 (compared to the 583 among placebo patients).

Boost Immunity

It seems like people love to discuss elderberries in relation to their effects on the immune system. They have certain antibacterial and anti-infectious qualities and is very commonly used to ward off influenza during bad seasons where it seems like everyone is catching it. Furthermore, elderberries can protect against the effects of autoimmune disorders, even alleviating certain symptoms and associated pain of AIDS.

If you have to Fly

In 2016, Australian researchers showed that taking elderberry before an overseas flight may protect against the cold viruses that can wreak havoc in a plane’s tight quarters and stagnant air. Over the course of 20 months, they gave 312 international air travelers either 600 to 900 milligrams of elderberry extract capsules or a placebo starting 10 days before their trip. The participants kept taking elderberry (or the placebo) until four or five days after they returned home, and they tracked any cold symptoms they experienced during or after their trip. Sure enough, more people in the placebo group got sick, and they reported harsher and longer-lasting cold symptoms than those who’d taken elderberry extract.

Double-Blind Study

Sambucol Elderberry Extract is natural remedies with antiviral properties, especially against different strains of influenza virus. Sambucol was shown to be effective in vitro against 10 strains of influenza virus. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized study, Sambucol reduced the duration of flu symptoms to 3-4 days. Convalescent-phase serum showed a higher antibody level to the influenza virus in the Sambucol group than in the control group. The present study aimed to assess the effect of Sambucol products on the healthy immune system – namely, its effect on cytokine production. The production of inflammatory cytokines was tested using blood-derived monocytes from 12 healthy human donors. Adherent monocytes were separated from PBL and incubated with different Sambucol preparations i.e., Sambucol Elderberry Extract, Sambucol Black Elderberry Syrup, Sambucol Immune System and Sambucol for Kids. Production of inflammatory cytokines (IL-1 beta, TNF-alpha, IL-6, IL-8) was significantly increased, mostly by the Sambucol Black Elderberry Extract (2-45 fold), as compared to LPS, a known monocyte activator (3.6-10.7 fold). The most striking increase was noted in TNF-alpha production (44.9 fold).

We conclude from this study that, in addition to its antiviral properties, Sambucol Elderberry Extract and its formulations activate the healthy immune system by increasing inflammatory cytokine production. Sambucol might, therefore, be beneficial to the immune system activation and in the inflammatory process in healthy individuals or in patients with various diseases. Sambucol could also have an immunoprotective or immunostimulatory effect when administered to cancer or AIDS patients, in conjunction with chemotherapeutic or other treatments

Control Diabetes

Some of the active antioxidant ingredients in elderberries work directly on the pancreas to regulate insulin and glucose levels, either providing stability for people who suffer from diabetes or helping non-diabetics to avoid developing this terrible condition.

Improve Bone Health

While the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds found in elderberries can help alleviate joint pain and soreness from inflammation, the high levels of essential minerals will help promote bone strength and the development of new bone tissue. Osteoporosis is a condition that millions of people face in the later years of their life, but increasing bone density during your younger decades can delay the onset considerably.

Skin Care

Elderberry makes its way into a lot of cosmetic applications, primarily because the bioflavonoids in elderberries can boost your skin health. The antioxidant activity, combined with its significant levels of vitamin A, make elderberries perfect for preventing or lessening wrinkles, helping age spots to fade, and generally improving the glow and tone of your body’s largest and most visible organ!

Weight Loss

With the high level of dietary fiber, combined with the metabolism-speeding effects of a solid vitamin and mineral injection, elderberries aid in weight loss. The fiber keeps you feeling full, the low-calorie count doesn’t affect your intake too much.

Elderberry tea is prepared by steeping the flowers of the elderberry plant that grow early in the blooming season before the berries appear on the plant. Scientifically known as Sambucus cerulea, this plant has been used for its medicinal benefits for thousands of years by indigenous people of the Americas. The plant itself is a shrub.  The flowers used for brewing tea are normally white and have a rather unpleasant smell. The health benefits of this tea are mainly derived from the rich concentrations of anthocyanins, quercetin, cinnamic acid, flavonoids, triterpenoids, and other antioxidants, as well as vitamin A, vitamin B, and vitamin C.

tea2Benefits Of Elderberry Tea

Elderberry tea is a popular drink for people suffering from macular degeneration, respiratory infections, indigestion, constipation, high toxicity, chronic pain, obesity, poor metabolic function, bronchitis, cancer, and other chronic diseases.

Vision Health

Significant levels of vitamin A in elderberry tea make it the ideal booster for vision health. Vitamin A acts as an antioxidant and can help prevent macular degeneration and slow the development of cataracts as you age.

Metabolic Function

The B-family vitamins are well represented in elderberry tea, most of which can boost the metabolism. By improving metabolic function, it can increase passive fat-burning, which can aid in weight loss efforts, while also optimizing various processes in the body related to hormones and digestion.

Detoxify the Body

Elderberry tea has been linked to laxative and diuretic effects, meaning that it can detoxify the body by expelling excess toxins, salts, and fats through urination. As a laxative, this tea can improve symptoms of constipation, reducing the occurrence of hemorrhoids, and maximize nutrient uptake efficiency.


Soothing the stomach with natural anti-inflammatory compounds, elderberry tea can reduce excess flatulence, indigestion, acid reflux disease and stomach upset, making it an excellent tea for before or after meals.

Respiratory Infections

Some of the most popular traditional uses of elderberry tea relate to respiratory infections, bronchitis, coughs, and congestion. There appear to be decongestant and expectorant qualities in elderberries volatile compounds, helping to ease inflammation in the respiratory tracts and eliminating mucus and phlegm where bacteria and other pathogens can thrive.

Immune System

High levels of vitamin C make this herbal tea a potent immune system aid, as it can stimulate the production of white blood cells, and also act as an antioxidant throughout the body. Ascorbic acid can seek out free radicals and lower oxidative stress, which allows your immune system to focus on more pressing attacks and infections.

Pain and Inflammation

Studies have found that there are certain analgesic properties to elderberry tea, as well as anti-inflammatory properties that help those recovering from illness, injury or surgery. This tea is particularly popular for those suffering from back pain or joint disorders, and some people drink 2-3 cups per day to relieve pain from morning to night. Elderberry tea can also be used medicinally to treat symptoms of arthritis.


Due to the presence of various flavonoids, triterpenoids, and cinnamic acid, a number of research studies have tried to link elderberry tea to cancer prevention and anti-mutagenic properties. While these studies are still ongoing, early results show that the antioxidants in this tea can help defend against oxidative stress, cell mutation, and apoptosis in healthy cells.

tea3.pngHow to Make Elderberry Tea

Brewing your own elderberry tea is quite easy, and requires nothing more than a few flowerheads from the elderberry plant, cinnamon, and mint. While some people prefer to make a syrup from crushed elderberries and use that to quickly make an elderberry-flavored beverage, the milder form of tea made from the flowerheads is also very effective, and more pleasant to taste. You can use the unopened flowerheads to brew this delicious tea or wait until they bloom for a milder, sweeter flavored drink.


  • 2-3 flowerheads (umbrels)
  • 1 cup of water (filtered)
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 4-5 mint leaves

Step 1 – Place the flower heads in a teapot.

Step 2 – Bring the water to a boil and then remove from heat.

Step 3 – Pour the water over the flowerheads and allow to steep for 5-8 minutes, depending on your desired strength.

Step 4 – Strain the mixture and add the cinnamon and mint leaves.

Elderberry Taste

Elderberry has a unique flavor, ranging from tangy and tart to bitter or sweet, depending on when in the growing season they are picked, and which variety you are eating. European black elderberries tend to be more tart or bitter, whereas American elderberries are typically sweet, and are more popular for including in jams, desserts, and candies.


Elderberry-flower tea is made by steeping 3 to 5 g of dried flowers in 1 cup of boiling water for 10 to 15 minutes. A typical dosage is 1 cup 3 times daily.

Elderberry Tea Side Effects

The side effects of elderberry tea are mainly gastrointestinal in nature, resulting in nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. This can be due to consuming an excessive amount or if one has a particular allergy to the elderberry plant or other members of the Sambucus genus. However, other side effects related to specific medical conditions or drug interactions.

Diabetic Problems – Given that elderberry tea does have blood sugar-lowering tendencies, hypoglycemic patients should be careful when adding elderberry tea to their diet. This could cause dangerously low blood sugar, resulting in fainting or diabetic shock. Speak to your doctor before consuming this powerful tea.

Pregnancy – A limited amount of research has been done on the effects of elderberry tea during pregnancy or while breastfeeding, but due to the wide range of powerful chemicals found in this tea, it is not recommended.

Mistaken Identity – The elderberry plant looks extremely similar to water hemlock, which is a very toxic and lethal plant when ingested. Do not pick elderberry in the wild unless you are trained to know the difference, or else a mistake could cost you your life!

Can You Grow an Elderberry in a Pot?

In the ground, elderberry bushes grow into dense masses similar to a thicket, and over time they spread to cover a wide area. While they aren’t a good choice for a small balcony or patio, you can grow elderberries as a potted plant if you have a large container and plenty of room. Elderberry shrubs in containers have confined roots so the plants won’t grow as large as they would in the ground, but they will need severe pruning in the spring to help control the size and keep the canes productive.

The American elder (Sambucus canadensis) is one of the few fruit-bearing shrubs that produce well in shade. Native to eastern North America, it is an excellent choice for gardeners who want to attract wildlife. Some varieties grow up to 12 feet tall, but the shorter types that grow no more than 4 feet high are best for containers. Choose a large pot with several drainage holes in the bottom. Fill the pot with potting soil that is rich in organic matter.

Elderberries need a lot of moisture and won’t survive if you allow the soil to dry out. Large pots and the organically rich potting mix can cut down on the amount of time you spend watering the plant.

Care for Elderberry in Pots

Container-grown elderberries need severe pruning every year in late winter or early spring to keep them from outgrowing their pots. Remove canes that droop down to the ground, broken or damaged canes, and those that cross each other so that they rub together. Remove the canes by cutting them off at soil level.

In their first year, elderberry canes produce a light crop of fruit. Second-year canes produce a heavy crop, and they decline in their third year. Remove all of the third-year canes and enough first and second-year canes to leave a total of about five canes in the pot.

Late winter or early spring is also the best time to fertilize elderberries in pots. Choose a slow-release fertilizer with an analysis of 8-8-8 or 10-10-10 and follow the instructions for containerized plants. Take care not to damage the roots near the surface when mixing the fertilizer into the soil.

Elderberry research is ongoing at the U.S. Department of Agriculture-ARS adjacent to OSU in Corvallis. The work is in cooperation with the University of Missouri and Missouri State University, where they have a long-term elderberry research program. They hope to determine the cultivars with the highest levels of anti-oxidants and whether other plant parts (leaves, stems, bark) are a significant source of anti-cancer compounds. They also want to identify the best performing cultivars for any possible future commercial plantings in the Northwest.


This entry was posted on December 24, 2017 by .