A strong immune system is now more important than ever, but maintaining a healthy immune system can be challenging. This is especially true for older adults, teachers, healthcare workers, travelers and people who are immunocompromised.
Taking a supplement can help support a strong and resilient immune system, especially if that supplement contains antioxidants and other ingredients that boost immunity. One of the most potent immunity-boosting ingredients is elderberry extract. In this article we'll discuss:
- Facts about your immune system
- Facts about elderberries
- Health benefits of elderberries
- The Healthycell elderberry fruit extract difference
About Your Immune System
Your immune system is a complex group of organs, cells, and tissues that work together to help your body fight infections and prevent other diseases. When bacteria, viruses, or other germs invade your body, they attack and multiply to cause infection. The infection causes the disease and symptoms that make you sick. A healthy immune system protects you from infectious disease by fighting off the germs and toxins.
Your immune system defends your body against antigens, which are substances it sees as harmful or foreign. Antigens may be germs such as bacteria and viruses, or antigens might be chemicals or toxins. Antigens could also be cells damaged from cancer, sunburn, or other causes.
Your immune system attacks any antigen it recognizes as part of your body's immune response. Next, your immune response makes antibodies, which are special proteins that attack, weaken, and destroy antigens. Your body also makes other cells that fight and kill the antigen.
In addition to fighting the antigen, your immune system learns how to recognize it. This allows your immune system to quickly send out the right antibodies so that you don't get sick from the same antigen in the future. Healthcare professionals refer to this protection as immunity.
The complex network of cells, tissues, and organs of the immune system include your skin that acts as a barrier, mucous membranes that make mucus and other substances that trap and fight germs, white blood cells that fight germs, and the organs and tissues of the lymph system that produce, store, and transport these white blood cells.
Specific chemicals, such as TNF-a and IL-6, also play important roles in the immune response. Tumor Necrosis Factor alpha (TNF alpha or TNF-a) regulates immune cells and inflammation, induces fever, and inhibits the replication of viruses inside your body . Interleukin-6 (IL-6) helps regulate immune responses, such as inflammation in response to infection, autoimmune disorders, cardiovascular diseases, and some cancers .
Inflammation is the immune system's response to harmful stimuli, such as the presence of pathogens, toxic compounds, and damaged cells. Inflammation floods the affected area with fluids to help wash away harmful pathogens. The fluids associated with inflammation also initiate the healing process. In this way, inflammation associated with the immune system is beneficial. Too much of a good thing can have unhealthy effects, though. Chronic inflammation can slow the healing process.
A healthy immune response relies on healthy cells, tissues, and organs. A weak immune system can cause you to get sick more often. Your infections may also last longer, and they can be more serious and more difficult to treat.
You may have a weak immune system if you:
- Get colds more often than others
- Have wounds that are slow to heal
- Suffer frequent infections
- Feel tired all the time
Achieving a healthy immune system and immune response requires proper nutrition and a healthy lifestyle. Unfortunately, many Americans do not get the vitamins and minerals they need for a robust immune system. The good news is that supplements can fill in nutritional gaps to keep your immune system functioning at its best.
An elderberry is a dark purple berry that comes from a tree variety known as Sambucus. The European elder, also known as black elder or Sambucus nigra, is the most common tree from the Sambucus family of trees. Native to Europe, the tree grows widely in other parts of the world. Other varieties include the American elder, blue elderberry, dwarf elder, red-fruited elder, danewort, and antelope brush.
Both the flowers and berries of the elder trees are edible. The flowers have a delicate muscat aroma; you can eat the flowers cooked or raw . The berries, however, are quite tart and must be cooked before you can eat them. Eaten uncooked, elderberries are toxic and can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
Elderberry is one of the most commonly used medicinal plants in the world today, and it has a rich history of use throughout the ages. Healers have been using elderberries medicinally for centuries to fight infections and boost immunity. The ancient Egyptians used elderberries to heal burns and improve complexions.
Healers used the flowers and leaves to relieve pain, swelling, and inflammation, for example, and used bark to stimulate the production of urine and as a laxative. They used the dried elderberries and elderberry juice to treat influenza, infections, and more.
Folk medicine enthusiasts across many parts of Europe still gather and use elderberries. Why? Because they know what nutritional researchers and supplement makers know – that elderberries provide a wide variety of health benefits, especially when it comes to building a healthy immune system.
Today, elderberry is most often taken as a supplement to treat cold and flu symptoms. Research performed by world-renowned Israeli virologist Dr. Madeleine Mumcuoglu shows that elderberry-based treatments are effective against avian flu, which is a type of influenza virus that normally affects birds but that also causes illness among humans . Mumcuoglu first tested her research on patients in 1992 and 1993, during the Southern Israel flu epidemic. Within the first 24 hours, 20 percent of those taking the elderberry-based treatment showed dramatic improvement in fever, muscle aches and pains, and cough. Seventy-three percent showed improvement by the second day, and 90 percent by day three. Among participants that did not take elderberry extract, only 16 percent felt better after two days.
What Are Health Benefits of the Elderberry?
Elderberry extract benefits your body in a variety of ways. These little berries are both low in calories and high in vitamins and minerals, which make them a powerhouse of nutrition. One cup of fresh elderberries provides only 106 calories and is low in carbohydrates and fat. It is also high in nutrients that support your immune system. This cup of elderberries provides about 57 percent of your daily value of vitamin C, for example, which helps support immune function by speeding healing . Vitamin C also has antiviral effects that help your immune system protect your body from viruses .
The vitamin C in elderberries also works as an antioxidant that fights free radicals, which are unstable molecules that damage body cells. Free radicals are oxygen-containing molecules that contain an uneven number of electrons, which allows them to react easily with other molecules. The reactions between free radicals and other molecules, a process known as oxidation, can cause harmful effects on body cells and tissues.
The big problem with oxidation is that the free radicals "steal" electrons from other molecules, which then destabilizes the other molecules in a chain reaction. Antioxidants, like those in vitamin C, can donate an electron to a free radical without becoming unstable themselves. This means the antioxidants in vitamin C can stabilize free radicals and stop harmful chain reactions.
These powerful little berries offer other benefits too. Elderberries are a good source of phenolic acids, for example. Phenolic acids are potent antioxidants that can help reduce damage from oxidative stress.
Elderberries also contain flavonols, which are plant compounds that impart a variety of health benefits to humans. Flavonols offer powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. Elderberries contain specific types of flavonols, known as quercetin and kaempferol . Quercetin is an antihistamine that helps relieve symptoms of hay fever and hives; it also has anti-inflammatory benefits. Kaempferol is a powerful antioxidant.
Elderberries are also packed with anthocyanins, which are the compounds that give the fruit its characteristic dark black/purple color. Anthocyanins are also strong antioxidants that provide anti-inflammatory effects.
Together, the antioxidant and antiviral effects in phenolic acids, flavonols, and anthocyanins in elderberries can help your immune system protect your body from viruses, bacteria, and other threats.
The Healthycell Elderberry Fruit Extract Difference
Healthycell's Immune Super Boost contains elderberry fruit extract, which can provide more of the benefits of elderberry than can simply eating the berries or flowers. The best elderberry supplements contain extracts because they are more potent, so you gain more of the antioxidant, antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory benefits from the phenolic acids, flavonols, and anthocyanins. They are also easier and safer to consume than eating raw elderberries. In folk medicine, you'd have to consume several servings of elderberries to gain a therapeutic dose; this can lead to upset stomach, stomach ache, and diarrhea. Extracts can deliver therapeutic doses of the active ingredients without causing these effects.
Because we use elderberry fruit extract, Healthycell's immune system supplement provides the clinically effective dose of elderberry (500+ mg) to help you gain the optimal immune effects of this potent berry. Many supplements do not contain this dose, and therefore cannot provide the immune support in each 0.85 fl oz (25 mL) gel pack of Healthycell's gel supplement.
Healthycell's Immune Super Boost also contains other plant-based nutrients that support a healthy immune response.† Armed with antiviral and antibacterial properties, these nutrients can help your immune system respond with strength to threats.† Zinc, flavonols and anthocyanins from elderberry extract, Aronia berry extract, dark cherry juice, and other ingredients may slow the rate at which viruses replicate.† Plant-based nutrients, known as polyphenols, may also boost your immune health by preventing the release of certain inflammation-causing substances, such as TNF-a and IL-6.†
Healthycell's Immune Super Boost can help you achieve and maintain the strong, responsive immune system you need for good health.† If you're looking to make a change and start feeling ill less often, try our immune health product that takes the place of a stand-alone elderberry extract supplement.