Many people are understandably worried about swine flu. A press release (1) was issued on Tuesday (11th August) providing information that the Vatican has tripled their order of black elderberry extract this year, compared to their order last year. It seems as though the Pope may be trying a natural way to prevent influenza and boost his immune system.
“This year the International Pharmacy of Vatican City has ordered 600 bottles of the black elderberry extract compared to 200 bottles last year, showing that divine intervention may work miracles, but when it comes to combating flu, even the Pope needs a helping hand” (1)
Black elderberry extract (Sambucol ®) is something I have written about previously in my blog. There is evidence suggesting that it can reduce the duration of an influenza attack by about 4 days and may also prevent against influenza.
Black elderberries are thought to contain a unique compound, called antivirin, which seems to coat viruses and prevents them from penetrating and infecting healthy body cells. As a result viruses, such as influenza, are unable to replicate. This means that the body’s white blood cells can ingest the infected cells, effectively removing the virus from the body.
A press pack(2) produced about black elderberry extract details the results of a laboratory based study that took place in 2006 (3) which found black elderberry extract (Sambucol ®) effective against the H5N1 strain of bird flu (avian influenza H5N1): “Laboratory trials were undertaken at Retroscreen Virology Ltd., a leading research institute associated with the University of London. Sambucol ® was found to be at least 99% effective against avian influenza virus H5N1. Sambucol ® was effective at significantly neutralizing the infectivity of the virus in cell culture. Further studies are to be undertaken to assess the effectiveness of Sambucol ® against avian influenza (H5N1) virus infections in humans”
Black elderberries also contain high levels of natural antioxidants known as flavonoids which help strengthen the immune system against viral attack; indeed the black elderberry has twice the antioxidant capacity of blueberries and significantly higher antioxidant capability than that of cranberries.
Black elderberry extracts are widely available in the UK and sold as a liquids or lozenges. The products can be taken as a preventative or at the first signs of cold or flu-like symptoms. A healthy diet, rich in a variety of fruit and vegetables, is obviously the most important way to keep the immune system strong, healthy and effective. However, if you are concerned about flu and feel that your diet tends to fall short you may consider following the Popes lead and taking an elderberry extract supplement to give your immune system an extra boost.
It is very important that if you begin to experience flu-like symptoms you consult your doctor immediately. For more information on black elderberry visit the website http://www.blackelderberry.info/
(1) The Pope exorcises the flu with black elderberries. Tuesday, 11 August 2009. Press release distributed via Response Source, a service from Daryl Willcox Publishing, on behalf of Tiger White PR. http://www.responsesource.com/releases/rel_display.php?relid=LzgXz
(2) Razei Bar. Sambucol ®A Unique Plant Extract. New Scientific Findings on H5N1 Bird Flu. Press Information Kit. http://www.mivelle.hu/sambucol/Press%20kit%20London%209.1.06.pdf
(3) Balasingam S et al. 2006. Neutralizing activity of Sambucol ® against avian NIBRG-14 (H5N1) influenza virus. Bird flu: the first pandemic of the 21st century. A central role of antivirals. London.
Written by Ani Kowal