Elderberry

Elderberry

A bush, with branches that are often curved, that can measure 1 to 10 metres in height - Green-grey fissured bark - Deciduous, opposite and odd pinnate leaves comprising 5 to 7 folioles, regularly serrated, a little more velvety along the veins and releasing a pleasant fragrance when rubbed. The leaves mature early (around 6 March) - Hermaphrodite flowers that appear at the start of summer, very pleasantly fragranced with 5 creamy-white coloured petals placed in flat corymbs of 100 to 240 mm in diameter - Fruits: small purplish-black berries of 6-8 mm arranged in clusters of three seeds, with soft flesh.

Latin name

Sambucus nigra L.

Origin

Europe, Western Asia and North Africa, aside from the mountainous regions.

Used part

The fruit.

Active components

Flavonoids: are known for their antioxidant action but are probably also responsible for the immunostimulant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Anthocyanins: contribute to the antioxidant action.

Lectins (Type II ribosome-inactivating protein, Sambucus nigra agglutinin III): have an antiviral action and inhibit the reproduction of viruses and their adherence to the cell walls.

Tannins: have an astringent and therefore antiseptic effect.

Usage

Elderberry flowers are used for infusions, but are also ideal for the preparation of refreshing lemonades and delicious syrups. In certain regions, these flowers are soaked in a paste to be used to make doughnuts. The berries are edible once cooked and can be used to make jam, syrup and even to produce wine and beer. Both the flowers and the berries are traditionally used to combat a cold. The hollowed stems can be used as whistles, in a practice that dates back to ancient times. Thanks to the presence of anthocyanins and flavonoids, elderberry is a powerful antioxidant capable of protecting the cells against oxidative stress. 1-3 However, it also protects against chills, because it is an immunostimulant. It is possible that certain pectins in the juice of the berries activate the immune system’s non-specific macrophages through the increased production of cytokines.4-5 The flavonoids present prevent the viruses’ ability to infect and replicate.6,7,8,9 The lectins and gallic acid also contribute to this effect. Moreover, elderberry is also active against numerous pathological bacteria. 12 This makes elderberry a broad-spectrum antiviral and antibacterial agent with proven efficacy against colds and influenza-like symptoms. 13,14

Bibliographical references

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The health claims relating to other nutrients or substances contained in our products that feature on our site are compliant with Regulation No. 432/2012 of the Commission of 16 May 2012 which establishes a list of authorised health claims authorised in relation to food products, other than those in reference to the reduction of the risk of disease as well as community-based development and child health (cf. website of the European Commission: http://ec.europa.eu/nuhclaims/).