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Why scientists are getting excited about elderberries to treat Covid

January 21st 2021 / Melanie Macleod / 0 comment

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An NHS study will look at whether Sambucol Black Elderberry Liquid can reduce the severity of coronavirus

It's been shown in multiple studies to dramatically improve recovery from flu, but could this humble berry unleash its antiviral properties to treat coronavirus too? That's the premise of a new NHS study of black elderberry liquid, which is being trialled in East Kent Hospitals as a treatment for coronavirus. The clinical trial will assess how the ingredient impacts progression and reduction of symptoms in people with Covid 19.

“Elderberry extracts have been shown to inhibit viral replication," says pharmacist Shabir Daya, founder of Victoria Health. "This inhibiting property may also extend to other viral infections which is why it has often been recommended for flu. Elderberries are also highly nutritious containing a variety of vitamins and minerals to support the body during infection, they are said to be a powerful antioxidant in their own right and can also help combat free radicals and relieve inflammation."

It's not the first time black elderberry has been a hot topic during the pandemic. In lockdown one, Sambucol Black Elderberry Liquid, £8.99, the very one being used in the trial, flew off the shelves of online pharmacy Victoria Health. Supercharged with immune-supporting black elderberry, the liquid is fortified with vitamin C and zinc to help fight off winter viruses.

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The team behind the new clinical trial were familiar with studies that showed that black elderberry fruit or extracts had antiviral properties against influenza A and B, with one study showing significant improvement in flu symptoms in 93 per cent of patients treated with an elderberry extract within two days rather than six days for people who didn't take elderberry. The trial will test whether Sambucol Black Elderberry Liquid, will be able to reduce the severity and duration of symptoms of Covid in people who have tested positive for the virus.

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Elderberry has a long history of use in Chinese medicine too, says Chinese medicine practitioner and founder of the Hayo'u Method Katie Brindle. "It’s called Jie Gu Mu and is used as a tonic to boost Lung Qi (for immunity) and Kidney Qi (our energy reserves), both of which are good to support and nourish if you have Covid 19."

Katie actually makes her own black elderberry linctus. "I’ve been making it for ten years. It grows like weeds where I live in Somerset. Nothing beats 'homemade' and it freezes really well. Every September, we go out as a family and pick enough for the winter, then I crush them and mix them with fresh ginger and a little honey. Because it's not currently elderberry season I recommend Biona's Elderberry Juice, £3.69, as a good option without too much added sugar."

The NHS elderberry trial began earlier this month and the team hopes to recruit more than 200 patients to the trial. We'll keep you posted.

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