The Elderberry tree is a deciduous one that can grow to about thirteen feet in height. It yields large oval shaped leaves and large, creamy white heads of small, sweet-smelling flowers. The flowers are then followed by purplish-blue berries in the autumn. The Elderberry tree is native to Europe, Asia, North Africa and the Eastern United States.
Some parts of the elderberry are toxic, such as the leaves and unripe fruit. But the common species has flowers and mature berries that may be ingested without harm.
The common species is black elderberry plant and also known as Sambucus nigra. The dark pigmentation of the fruit it bears contains high levels of the flavonoid group of antioxidants called Anthocyanins. It is these antioxidants that provide the elderberry with its purple pigment. The fruit of the black elderberry possesses powerful antioxidant capabilities.
Elderberries themselves are seen as super-foods as they contain extremely high levels of vitamins, antioxidants and phytochemicals, and are beneficial for viral infections, allergies and inflammatory conditions.
Elderberries are a rich source of nutrients and active compounds that benefit the immune system. Anthocyanins, rich phytochemicals called flavonoids, are what gives the elderberries their dark colour, and are powerful antioxidants that protect against free-radical damage and oxidation.
These anthocyanins are located in the purple pigment of black elderberries. Scientific research has shown that the anthocyanins in black elderberry can increase the production of cytokines, the proteins that act as messengers within the immune system, and in doing so, serve to improve the body's immune response.
Herbalists have used elderberry extract and other elderberry parts for centuries to treat illnesses, especially those relating to feverish colds, flu and excessive phlegm. Native Americans also used elderberry to reduce fevers and soothe rheumatism. One historical use of elderberry was to reduce excessive phlegm and congestion. Herbalists have long used elderberry extract and tea to help soothe and shrink swollen mucus membranes, relieve nasal congestion and ward off infections that may lead to bronchitis and sinusitis. Hence their use as a cold & flu remedy to date.
Vitamin C & Zinc
Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that has a number of biological functions. It is required for growth and repair of tissues in all parts of your body. It is necessary to form collagen, an important protein used to make skin, scar tissue, tendons, ligaments, and blood vessels. Vitamin C is essential for the healing of wounds, and for the repair and maintenance of cartilage, bones, and teeth.
Vitamin C Vitamin C is one of many antioxidants. Antioxidants are nutrients that block some of the damage caused by free radicals, which are by-products that result when our bodies transform food into energy.
The build-up of these by-products over time is largely responsible for the ageing process and can contribute to the development of various health conditions such as cancer, heart disease, and a host of inflammatory conditions like arthritis. Antioxidants also help reduce the damage to the body caused by toxic chemicals and pollutants such as cigarette smoke.
The body does not manufacture vitamin C on its own, nor does it store it. It is therefore important to include plenty of vitamin C-containing foods in your daily diet.
Zinc is an essential mineral that is a component of more than 300 enzymes needed to repair wounds, maintain fertility in adults and growth in children, synthesize protein, help cells reproduce, preserve vision, boost immunity, and protect against free radicals, among other functions.