Right after Christmas, my son developed a cough and fever (thank you to all the people who boarded our flight from Portland to DC while they were sick). He has a heart condition and the flu could be quite devastating for him. Actually, the flu can be quite devastating for anyone and I think that sometimes we take it too lightly. Maybe not after this year when we’ve seen a flu epidemic. Pretty much everyone I know has had somebody in their household with the flu. And, yes…many got the vaccine.
The thing about the vaccine is that it only contains certain strains and it doesn’t 100% guarantee that you won’t get the virus. The way those strains are determined is certainly scientific, but there’s a little bit of guesswork that goes into it. And, it’s impossible to know which strain you might be exposed to. My son tested positive for Influenza Type B. The pediatrician said he was surprised because most of the Type B cases he’d seen this year were in October. Now, he said, they are mostly seeing Type A stains. It wasn’t a surprise to me because we had just returned from a big dvd replication job. In any case, he said that this year’s vaccine contained two Type A strains and one Type B strain. So, lucky us….we got exposed to a strain that wasn’t in the vaccine.
Normally, our pediatrician’s office doesn’t prescribe Tamiflu to children, but since my son has a congenital heart defect and is therefore at a higher risk for major complications, he would be an exception. Except that no pharmacy within a reasonable driving distance had any Tamiflu on hand. Then, the doctor started telling me about a study that was done (and actually there have been many) during the H1N1 outbreak that showed Elderberry extract to be as effective in reducing the length of the illness and reducing the symptoms as Tamiflu. Evidence also exists to suggest that it can prevent illness as well. The doctor said to give my son 1 TBSP, 3x daily.
After I got home and gave the sicko his first dose, I started doing some research and was dumbfounded by what I found. There was so much evidence to support elderberry as a “cure” for the common cold and flu. And, all these years we’ve been told there’s not much you can do about a virus. In fact, Elderberry is probably the most promising herb in our modern medicine cabinet. I couldn’t believe I had never known this before.
As I researched, I found studies completed in Israel and Norway that showed Black Elderberry to be 2 times as effective as Tamiflu. Both the Israeli and Norwegian studies confirmed that Elderberry cured the flu symptoms in 2 to 3 days and those using Elderberry reported that their symptoms were less severe than those treated with Tamiflu or placebo. Tamiflu cure times range from 4.5 to 6 days. The placebo groups resolved their symptoms in 6+ days. Our own personal timeline went like this: Symptoms developed on Thursday, flu test was positive on Friday, 1st dose of Elderberry extract was given Friday evening and the fever broke by Sunday. Even the inevitable cough that seems to last FOREVER this year was gone within a week.
There are several brands of Elderberry extract on the market. I happened to pick up the Vitacost brand at Whole Foods because the only ingredient was Black Elderberry Extract and I figured I didn’t want to muddy the water. Amazon carries it at great prices. But you can also find it at most drug stores under the brand Sambucol. It is a bit thick and tastes like dark berry and is generally recognized as safe for children and adults. A friend of mine said that she mixes it with sprite for her son to drink and he loves it. When I was searching on Amazon, I found and Elderberry Fruit Powder and am thinking of buying it to put in my breakfast smoothie.
Since our experience I have been harping on everyone I know to try it. A few have and have reported positive results. If you’re sick…try it. It can’t hurt and it won’t give you medicine-head. It’s becoming a daily part of our morning regimen. Forget apples…a shot of elderberry keeps the doctor away!
Speaking of shots…I wonder if it would help a hangover?
Disclaimer: This post is based on sources, education, and experience. It is NOT intended as a substitute for the care and advice of a physician.