My Favorite Immune Supplement: Elderberry

Elderberry is one of my favorite immune supplements.

Truth: I have many favorites. But elderberry makes the top of my list with good reason.

My initial experience with elderberries was as a food in the form of syrup. I used it as a flavoring for plain yogurt, as pancake syrup and in place of honey. These are simple ways to incorporate the firepower of this amazing antiviral berry into your families’ winter menu. Many herbalists and other practitioners think of elderberries as an herb. In addition to being widely available as a syrup (to be kept refrigerated), it is also available in a variety of other preparations, such as capsules, powder and gummies. All forms are good. It’s simply a matter of personal preference. I love elderberries so much that my kitchen pharmacy is stocked with all forms.

So, what’s all the well-earned buzz about these deep purple-black berries?

They are rich in vitamin C and quercetin (also antivirals) and contain a variety of vitamins and minerals, including zinc and magnesium. Vitamin C, zinc and magnesium are each on my essential immune nutrient list. Elderberries reduce inflammation and contain potent antiviral compounds. They have been shown in clinical studies to combat infectious bronchitis and may help to prevent a simple cold from progressing to pneumonia.

There is an extensive body of research supporting the immune regulating properties of elderberries, and I consider them to be an essential component of my first line of defense for all things related to winter
wellness. Think of elderberries as a daily shield of protection during times when viruses are going around. It can be confusing to navigate the selection of products out there.

Sprigs of fresh raw elderberries.

My students have taught me there is no single form that’s right for everyone. Many adults love the gummies. That’s okay; the most important thing is to use a form that’s going to be used as needed. If the candy-like taste of the gummies works for you, then that’s fine.

I love the formulation of some elderberry gummies that provide the added antiviral benefits of additional vitamin C and zinc in small amounts. The syrup is flavorful but comes with a serving of sugar. Capsules are easy, and the powder can be used to enhance water. Using the powder to make tea is my favorite preparation because it provides a tasty way to bathe your cells in antiviral elderberry goodness all day long.

Each company has a different method for detailing the information related to the elderberry content and dosing of their product. Some products will include the term “standardized” on the label, but this level can change after the product has sat on a shelf. Instead of confusing you with all the laborious details I’m going to provide the names of two companies I trust. When using a reliable company, you can feel safe following their dosing recommendations.

You can also double the dose if extra immune support is needed. During these times, your body may provide clues that you are coming down with something, such as an itchy throat, slight congestion or fatigue. I recommend using elderberries every other day preventatively when a virus is circulating in your community. Use them daily if you have a high level of exposure—like teachers during the winter or when you need to boost immune function when you have been near a sick person.

Remember, my viral strategies are all about getting ahead of the virus and not allowing it to gain a foothold in your body. Focus on prevention by taking back your power and being prepared with a few items in your kitchen pharmacy. Just in case you didn’t know – the common cold, the flu and many respiratory infections are caused by viruses.

Products I Love:

• Gaia Herbs Immune Shine. This powder includes elderberries, mushrooms, astragalus and ginger, making it a great immune-support blend. Simply stir 1 teaspoon into water, drink, and go. It’s also great with a squeeze of lemon, or mixed into a smoothie. This is my #1 go to for fast, comprehensive support. Shop here .

• Nature’s Way Sambucus is an elderberry gummy that also
contains zinc and vitamin C for extra immune support,
which is a simple way to include other essential immune
nutrients that are difficult to get enough of through
diet alone.

For more of my extensively vetted elderberry and other excellent immune support , energy, and joint supplements, refer to Products Marie Loves.

To learn more about my favorite immunity super foods and the 6 critical nutrients for immune support, check out my book, Optimize Your Immune Function: Create Health and Resilience with a Kitchen Pharmacy.

*Includes affiliate links.

Marie Ruggles, RD, CN, CDE

Marie Ruggles, MS, RD, CN, CDE, is a nutritionist and certified diabetes educator, and is certified in essential oil safety. She has a master's degree from Columbia University in Nutrition and Public Health where she started her career in research forty years ago. She then began working in public health, translating the wisdom of science into simple action steps for managing chronic disease and maximizing wellness. Over time, Marie became concerned about people's lack of reliable information regarding options for being proactive in their own self-care. She decided to write a book that could serve as a home reference guide for her students who were eager to learn about natural options for preventive health and everyday wellness challenges. Marie is the recipient of national awards for her nutrition education publications and lectures internationally on the safe use of essential oils for everyday wellness challenges. She is on a mission to inspire others to take responsibility for their personal wellness through nutrition and lifestyle, applying the findings of cutting-edge nutrition research to develop a home inventory of natural wellness options. When Marie isn't teaching, she enjoys spending time with her family, working in healing prayer ministry, and gardening. --This text refers to the paperback edition.

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