What To Know Before Using Elderberry During The Coronavirus Outbreak

mindbodygreen Editorial Assistant By Sarah Regan
mindbodygreen Editorial Assistant

Sarah Regan is a writer, registered yoga instructor, and Editorial Assistant at mindbodygreen. She received her bachelor's in broadcasting and mass communication from SUNY Oswego, and lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Elderberries

As cases of the coronavirus surge past a quarter million around the globe, people everywhere are looking for novel and effective ways to support their immune systems. One long-trusted, traditional option for supporting your immune symptom and improving flu and cold symptoms is elderberry syrup.

But as with any medical claim, it's always important to do your research. And it turns out there may be some instances in which elderberry could wind up doing more harm than good.

So to get an expert's take, we got in touch with Marvin Singh, M.D. He actually loves the stuff, but he did have some important info for anyone curious about the berry and its efficacy.

Here's what it does.

First off, elderberries have indeed been scientifically proven to improve cold and flu symptoms in randomized studies. They've also been found to show a "mild inhibitory effect" during early stages of the flu but appear to work even better at lessening symptoms once infected. That same study also observed elderberries can stop a virus from getting into a body and replicating, as well as boost immune response.

"Elderberry is packed with antioxidants and vitamins and can make a great addition to any immune-boosting regimen," Singh says. But what about for the coronavirus? The results don't exactly translate.

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Looking at the coronavirus.

Due to the way elderberries work in the body, they can end up activating certain immune cells that you don't necessarily want to activate.

Singh explains, "When you are exhibiting symptoms of infection or test positive for coronavirus, you should consider avoiding elderberry, because the immune-activating properties of it may cause increased levels of IL-1B and/or IL-18 in infected immune cells. These are inflammatory cytokines that could potentially make the illness more complicated."

"While I love vitamin D as an inflammation-modulating agent," he adds, "the same concern exists with vitamin D. Interestingly, there may also be some potential concern with polysaccharide mushroom extracts, Echinacea, and larch arabinogalactan, as well."

So if you've been thinking about downing some elderberry syrup, there you have it; while it does show effectiveness for the flu or common cold, it may not be the one to turn to for the coronavirus. But don't worry, there are plenty of other ways to support your immune system during this outbreak—like these 12 all-natural options.

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