Can Elderberry Make the H1N1 Flu Strain Worse?

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Filed Under: Colds and Flu, Immune Health
Last Reviewed 02/06/2014

Can Elderberry Make the H1N1 Flu Strain Worse?

As a doctor, I recommend elderberry for treating viral infections and patients have been happy with the results. However, I'm concerned that Sambucol (elderberry-based natural product) may make H1N1 flu worse, even though it is very effective for ordinary flu. What's your opinion?

 

Based on my research with other influenza strains, I believe that elderberry probably acts more as a regulator than as a strong stimulant of the immune system. H1N1 is thought to kill in part by creating a "cytokine storm" whereby the body's attempt to overcome an infection leads to respiratory failure. From what I can determine, elderberry increases inflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokines and works to directly inactivate the virus.

I still recommend that you encourage your patients to take elderberry extract at the first sign of flu. By the time they get tested to see exactly which variety of virus it is, it’ll be past the 72-hour period when elderberry is most effective.

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