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    Elderberry & Immune Health

    iStock-1271495889An interesting study by a group of researchers at the University of Sydney shows how the active component in elderberry (Sambucus nigra L.) may help mitigate the negative health effects of the influenza virus in human cells.

    The influenza virus is estimated to lead to an average of 389,000 respiratory deaths globally each year. Folk medicines and medicinal plants like elderberry have been used for thousands of years to help combat a wide range of health issues in many disparate cultures. 

    Past investigation into the antiviral properties of elderberry (also known as black elder) extract has shown that they may possess properties beneficial for supporting a healthy microbial balance. The FDA has generally recognized them as safe, yet, according to a recent review, the amount of available research has been limited. However, this research out of the University of Sydney has now confirmed the mechanisms at play behind elderberry’s long ethnobotanical usage history.  The study highlights that the active compound in elderberry, cyanidin 3-glucoside (cyn 3-glu), displays a variety of potentially therapeutic actions.

    The results of hemagglutination inhibition assays, plaque reduction assays, and flow cytometry analysis were that cyn 3-glu has a mild inhibitory effect at the early stages of the influenza virus cycle, barricading viral proteins from entering the host cells. Cyn 3-glu had a considerably stronger effect in the post-infection phase. The study data also supported both a direct effect on the flu virus by blocking viral glycoproteins as well as indirect immunomodulatory effects, as shown by the increased expression of inflammation biomarkers IL-6, IL,8 and TNF without stimulation of the immune system.

    Moreover, the scientists added that the elderberry solution encourages the human cell to produce cytokines, chemical messengers that help the immune system deliver a more effective message between various cells to communicate a more effective response to find the invading pathogen.

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