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According to the World Health Organization, influenza kills up to 650,000 people every year.

The crazy thing about the flu virus is that it is constantly changing and mutating like an alien life form in a Steven King novel taking on different shapes in order to fool our bodies and evade our immune system.

This tiny alien can spread easily to other humans.

When our medical scientists fail to predict quickly enough how this mutant virus is evolving, the alien flu invasion is then called a pandemic. It is not a matter of ‘IF’ it is a matter of ‘WHEN’ this will happen.

When this occurs our beloved flu vaccine is not going to be very effective.

One of the most catastrophic public health crisis in modern history happened 100 years ago. The 1918 “Spanish Flu” hit with the speed and intensity of an F5 tornado. It infected approximately 500 million people.

That was about one third the population of the earth!

It took about two years for it to subside and took the lives of more than 50 million people.

That is way more than the death toll of the first world war which was around 17 million human beings.

Sounds like another Stephen King movie. Remember “The Stand”? I read that book 3 times. The entire population of the earth contracted some sort of plague where they were all coughing up nasty stuff and then died except for about a dozen or so that were consuming elderberry.  

I just made that last part up. 🙂

We have learned a lot since 1918 and have way more advanced techniques to predict and treat the flu but it is obvious that we have a long way to go since we continue to have pandemics.

Granted they have not been catastrophic like the Spanish flu or the plague in the Stephen King novel, The Stand.

At least not yet anyway.

They still continue to be severe though. Consider the pandemic of 1957 and 1968 where millions lost their lives.

Then in 2003, there was the H5N1, aka avian flu, which spread from animals to people. Remember that one?

It is only a matter of time before the next one hits.

Question is, how bad will it be? And will you be ready?

It is imperative that there is global collaboration in the effort to maintain access to vaccines, treatments, and medication but can we really depend on that?

Pharmaceutical companies (remember they are ‘for profit’) base the production of the vaccine on the previous year’s history.

Any vaccine that does not get used or sold is discarded and the manufacturer takes a loss.

On top of that, it takes months to develop the vaccine that has to be reformulated each year.

You do the math. If there is a mutation in the virus that goes ‘viral’ (excuse the pun) then Houston we have a problem. Microscopic mutating aliens destroying and causing havoc here on planet earth and that is no fiction novel.

The last thing I want to mention before I dive into the wonderful antiviral components of Elderberry is to talk briefly about the vaccine controversy.

And I do mean briefly.

I do not want to debate this subject. I want to share the properties of the Elderberry plant.

I am a nurse and am not anti-vaccine. I do however believe that data is not delivered to the public by our government and pharmaceutical companies accurately. I believe we need to do our own research and not believe everything we are told by one source alone.

I also acknowledge that there is research regarding vaccines that have caused enough concern that many do not get the flu vaccine and there is a need for more conversation around this topic.

The other thing is that at best it will provide only 60% protection. Each year will be different. As I write this in the 2018-2019 flu year the vaccine will only provide approximately 25% protection against this years most prevalent virus H3N5.

Age is also an indicator as to how well the vaccine will work. Young children under the age of 2 years and older adults over 65 may be even less likely to see adequate protection from the vaccine.

I am not indicating that is a reason they should not be vaccinated!

Another study shows that the effectiveness of the influenza vaccine decreases considerably over a short period of time.

Researchers from Kaiser Permanente of Northern California found that after every 28 days from vaccination the risk of contracting the flu climbs about 16%.

So if you get your flu shot October 1st, by November 1st you will have less than 9% protection against the H3N5.

Whether you get the flu vaccine or not there is strong evidence to show that Elderberry can protect against the flu and shorten the duration and severity of the symptoms.

Ok, finally. Let’s talk about Elderberry!

 

Elderberries have been touted to be beneficial in a number of areas from reducing cholesterol, fighting cancer, improving digestive health, enhancing heart health, treating diabetes, urinary tract infections, eye health, brain health, supporting weight loss, and improving skin and hair.

But that is not why you are here right?

You want to learn how it can help you fight the war against those mutant alien flu viruses.

Is there any science behind elderberry’s effectiveness against influenza?

YES!

 

Significant improvement was seen in flu symptoms of 93.3% of people within 2 days during a placebo-controlled, double-blind study conducted by Israeli virologist Dr. Madeleine Mumcuoglu compared to 6 days for the group taking the placebo. 

Hmm.  2 days or 6 days? Sounds like the same thing those synthetic antivirals do but without adverse side effects.

Similar results were seen in another randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study performed in Norway. Patients that had flu-like symptoms for less than 48 hours were given either a placebo syrup or elderberry syrup. The patients that received the elderberry syrup saw on average, relief of symptoms 4 days earlier than the group that was given the placebo syrup.

In addition, those that received the elderberry syrup were reported taking significantly fewer over-the-counter medications for relief of their symptoms.

The part that excites me the most is that researchers have also found that people who take elderberries have higher levels of antibodies against the flu virus, showing that it may be able to prevent the flu as well as treating its symptoms. You can read about it here.

So how exactly do elderberries work their magic against the influenza virus?

Considered an antiviral the prime mechanism of action is something called hemagglutinin protein. This protein has been shown to inhibit virus replication by impeding its ability to penetrate the cell wall. This prevents the virus from causing infection if it is taken before exposure to the virus.

If taken after being infected with the virus it keeps it from spreading which reduces the duration of the flu symptoms.

Unlike synthetic antivirals like Relenza or Tamaflu elderberries have no side effects and are safe to use unless you eat too many of the raw seeds. Also, beware of the commercial powders as they may contain some of those seeds.

Remember colds are also caused by viruses as well so elderberry is effective against colds as well.

You may be able to find fresh elderberries but if not the dried elderberries work just fine and you can purchase them here at iHerbs.

How can you make elderberry syrup to use for yourself and your family?

It is super easy and tastes downright delicious. Kids love it.

I make up a batch every fall and take 1 TBL daily as a preventative. It will last 2 -3 months in the fridge which will get you through most of the flu season. If you do come down with flu you will want to increase the dose to 1 TBL every 2-3 hours until symptoms are gone.

Here is the basic recipe but you can play around with some of the spices until you get it the way you like it.

For elderberry syrup recipe click here.

For those of you who don’t have a local source or would rather not make your own, you can purchase pre-made elderberry syrup here. Follow the directions on the label of whichever product is purchased.

All in all, elderberries could be a great option for folks to add to their medicine cabinets to prevent and treat cold and flu symptoms.

Don’t wait until it is too late, get some now and make sure you have it on hand.