Elderberry tea is a well known herbal remedy for a variety of ailments. If you have never had elderberry tea and want to explore the health benefits, check out your local health food store such as GNC, order online, or even make your own.
What Is an Elderberry?
Sambucus nigra or elderberry, is a deciduous shrub that is native to Europe, southwestern Asia, and western North America. The plant produces dark purplish-black clusters of berries that are popular with birds and humans. The berries are also eaten by larger wildlife such as deer, elk, and sheep. The berries should only be eaten when ripe and no part of the rest of the plant should be consumed except the flowers due to poisonous cyanogenic glycosides compounds. These compounds contain cyanide which is toxic to humans.
Uses of Elderberry Tea
The active ingredients in elderberry are sambucin, potassium nitrate, sambunigrin and natural sugars. The health benefits of elderberry tea include treatment of influenza type B, headaches, muscle aches, cough and fever.Influenza B, also known as the flu, affects millions worldwide each year. Though there are preventative shots available each fall in the United States, thousands still manage to contract the illness. In less developed countries where the flu shots are not available, there are more serious outbreaks and many actually die from complications from the illness.
Recent studies suggest that consuming elderberry tea may treat the flu's symptoms and significantly improve the rate of recovery. In addition, there were no documented side effects, unlike traditional medications used to treat the flu. Such things as drowsiness and lethargy were not present in patients who consumed elderberry tea while those side effects were present in patients who took flu therapy medications.
The extracts from elderberry appear to contain flavonoids which are known to help the immune system work better. Flavonoids are a type of antioxidant and when used as part of a treatment regimen, can help the body attack infected cells and strengthen the body's response to the flu virus.
Elderberry extracts have been shown to reduce coughs and other upper respiratory illnesses by reducing the amount of mucous and phlegm that has accumulated in the air ways. Consuming tea made from elderberry promotes phlegm removal, which clears the lungs and makes it easier to breathe.
Anthocyanins are another compound found in elderberry that has health benefits. Anthocyanins work by blocking the genes that trigger inflammation. When consumed in tea, the anthocyanins help ease muscle aches by reducing inflammation and fevers.Anthocyanins have also been found to inhibit the growth of cells and blood vessels that feed tumors. Though more studies and research must be done, berries containing anthocyanins may someday help treat cancer by helping kill the malignant cells prevent the body from feeding the infected area.
Making Elderberry Tea
Elderberry tea is made by steeping the berries or flowers in hot water. This process, known as infusion, allows the elderberry flavor to permeate the water. To make your own tea, fill a teapot with water and bring to a boil. Place one tablespoon of dried flowers and berries into a teacup, then pour in the boiling water. Let the mixture rest, or steep, for approximately 10 minutes. Remove the dried flowers and berries with a spoon or pour the tea through a strainer to remove all of the particles. Drink while the tea is still warm for the best flavor.