A Berry Eats Up Old Flu

Purple compounds inhibit viral entry and replication

Elderberry syrup

Elderberry syrup

The phytochemicals from the elderberry juice were shown to be effective at stopping the virus from infecting the cells. But what about if you already have the flu?

To the surprise of the researchers elderberry was even more effective at inhibiting viral propagation at later stages of the influenza cycle when the cells had already been infected with the virus.

Read: Take Down Flu, Naturally

Chemical and biomlolecular engineering researchers from the University of Sydney’s Faculty of Engineering and IT have determined precisely how the elderberry fights colds and flu.

The researchers used commercially farmed elderberries, which were turned into a juice serum, and applied to cells before, during, and after they had been infected with the influenza virus.

Double Inhibition

“This observation was quite surprising and rather significant because blocking the viral cycle at several stages has a higher chance of inhibiting the viral infection,” explained Dr. Peter Valtchev.

“In addition to that, we identified that the elderberry solution also stimulated the cells to release certain cytokines, which are chemical messengers the immune system uses for communication between different cell types to coordinate a more efficient response against the invading pathogen,” said Professor Fariba Deghani.

Read: How To Tame Viruses

The team also found that the elderberry’s antiviral activity can be attributed to its anthocyanidin compounds—phytonutrients responsible for giving the fruit its vivid purple colour.

Otherwise known as Sambucus nigra, the black elderberry is a small, antioxidant-rich fruit that grows in Europe and North America and consumed mainly as a jam. For medicinal benefits, elderberry extract is available commercially in tablet or syrup form.

ReferenceGolnoosh Torabian, Peter Valtchev, Qayyum Adil, Fariba Dehghani. Anti-influenza activity of elderberry (Sambucus nigra). Journal of Functional Foods, 2019; 54: 353 DOI: 10.1016/j.jff.2019.01.031
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