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Home > Berry Good Science > Elderberry


The black elderberry (Sambucus nigra) is native to Europe and has been used for centuries by traditional healers for its variety of health benefits. Elderberry is often referred to as "nature's medicine chest," (as coined by Hippocrates) and it is most recognized today for its immune health properties as well its ability to provide support against physical stress (which we now know can be related to oxygen radical buildup). The berries are harvested in early autumn but are not very palatable in their raw form.

Hierarchy of Actives

Polyphenolsare a large family of natural phytonutrients widely distributed in plant foods. They are characterized by the presence of more than one phenol unit per molecule.

Flavonoids(or "bioflavonoids") make up an important subcategory of polyphenols that exhibit potent antioxidant activity. Many health promoting effects are attributed to flavonoids.

Anthocyanins, with their incredible antioxidant and health-promoting potential, are one of the most widely-studied flavonoid categories. Anthocyanins are the water-soluble pigments responsible for the dark red-purple color found in fruits, vegetables, and flowers. The darker the berry, the more anthocyanins that are present.

Elderberry contains nearly four times the anthocyanins as other commonly consumed berries. Each berry species contains a unique anthocyanin profile that contributes to its distinct health benefits. The black elderberry contains four predominant anthocyanins:

  • cyanidin-3-glucoside (C3G)
  • cyanidin-3-sambubioside
  • cyanidin-3,5-diglucoside
  • cyanidin-3-sambubioside-5-glucoside

Antioxidant Ability

Perhaps one of the most important health attributes of the dark berries that are high in anthocyanins is the antioxidant capacity. Dark berry antioxidants neutralize free radical buildup, also known as oxidative stress. Free radicals are linked to the development of a number of degenerative diseases and conditions. Free radicals are by-products of normal bodily functions and are inevitable in daily life. However, it is the delicate balance of antioxidants and free radicals that determine our state of health. As we age, the body doesn't function as efficiently and, as a result, an excess of free radicals are produced. We can do our best to arm ourselves by including sufficient amounts of antioxidants in our diet or by supplementing our diets with products rich in dark berry anthocyanins, including elderberry anthocyanins.

The Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) test is one commonly used method for measuring the antioxidant capacity of a substance. The higher the ORAC value, the higher the antioxidant activity.

A study by Youdim et al. in 2000 found that incorporation of elderberry anthocyanins by endothelial cells increased protection against oxidative stress.

Additional Health Benefits

Elderberry is valuable not only for its antioxidant potential but also for its many particular health benefits that are substantiated in studies in the areas of:

  • Immune support
  • Physical Stress & Athletic performance
  • Cardiovascular support
  • Healthy inflammation response

Scientific Research at a Glance

Elderberry's extensive use in traditional medicine has interested modern researchers who continuously explore the health benefits of natural products and search for the active compounds like anthocyanins and the mechanisms by which they function. Current studies range fromin vitrolaboratory studies to animal studies and even human clinical studies.

Some noteworthy findings include:

  • In a human clinical trial, a significant improvement of influenza symptoms, including fever, was seen in 93.3% of the cases in the elderberry-treated group within 2 days, whereas in the control group 91.7% of the patients showed an improvement within 6 days. (Zakay-Rones, 1995)
  • In a human pilot study, athletes who consumed elderberry supplements experienced a delay in lactic acid buildup and a maintained state of oxidative phosphorylation, enabling them to workout longer and harder. (Porta, 2001)
  • A human pilot study showed that the intake of elderberry juice resulted in a significant decrease in serum triglyceride concentrations. (Murkovich, 2001)

Berries For Life™ Elderberry is the Answer

Our elderberry supplement includes astandardized extract, which delivers consistent high levels of the active elderberry anthocyanins combined with awhole food elderberry powderthat delivers the full elderberry matrix, just as if you were eating the actual berries. We also include anelderberry juice powderfor an added boost of elderberry phytonutrients to deliver a well-rounded and complete product to help you stay healthy.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any medical condition.