For those suffering from diseases such as cancer, life-saving treatments sometimes come with their own risks and side effects. Chemotherapy and radiotherapy can weaken the immune system as they fight to win the body back, making it harder for the patient to combat bacterial and viral infections. Patients may emerge from treatments free of disease, but with reduced physical vitality.

But natural supplements and health-giving extracts are giving new hope — and European Elderberry (Sambucus nigra) is among the most promising tools. Researchers are finding that doses of concentrated elderberry extract may help return some strength back to the immune system, and to overall health as the body works to recover.

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Return to wellness

For centuries, elderberry has been known to have healing and strengthening powers. But our modern ability to concentrate health-giving fruits into different forms, and calibrate and standardize their potency, gives elderberry even greater effectiveness.

Scientists have discovered that in a concentrated form, elderberry extract can counter both bacterial and viral infection as well as support overall health by reducing oxidative stress throughout the body. The substances doing most of the work are natural plant pigments known asanthocyanins, powerful anti-oxidants found in abundance in dark-colored (and therefore heavily pigmented) elderberries.

Antiviral power

Recent research on elderberry’s antiviral power found that the anthocyanins in concentrated elderberry extract form a bond with the influenza virus H1N1 (swine flu). This bond thwarts the virus’ ability to infect new cells. A study in Japan found that concentrated elderberry juice is a potent double weapon against influenza infection. Not only does it suppress the replication of the Influenza A virus, it also increases the level of antibodies in the blood. The same study also found evidence that elderberry stimulates the immune response, which further prevents viral infection.

Still more research found that the anthocyanins in elderberry extract may have the ability to fight the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). The anthocyanins blocked viral reproduction by bonding with HIV, thus preventing it from infecting new cells. The researchers called this a promising starting point in the quest for safe and reliable co-therapies, and a bright possibility for those who are HIV-1-positive.

Antibacterial power

Among the toughest infections facing those with diminished immune systems are bacterial infections that affect the respiratory system. That was the focus of yet another series of studies into elderberry’s potential. The anthocyanins in elderberry were found to kill a range of bacteria, particularly those related to respiratory infections.

Research conducted in Germany found that an elderberry formula called Rubini, created using Iprona AG´s proprietary membrane enrichment technology, was particularly effective in this regard, and could potentially function as a valuable alternative treatment. Similarly, a study in Ireland found that elderberry was a potentially powerful weapon against the dangerous antibiotic-resistant bacteria Staphylococcus aureus.

On many fronts, elderberry has therapeutic, health giving promise. Whether as a supportive treatment against colds and influenza, or a way to help strengthen the blood and increase vitality, it’s another example of the incredible power of nature to help us heal.