The most asked question I hear as Clinical Nutritionist & Herbalist right now is “How can I protect myself and my family from cold and flu viruses, including the Human Influenza A (H1N1) virus?” My answer is Elderberry (Sambucus nigra). Elderberry has long been praised for its strong antiviral activities and has been used for centuries for cold and flu symptoms. During the fifth century BC, the writings of Hippocrates describe the use of tonics derived from Elderberry. In the Middle Ages, Elderberry was traditionally used to help support the immune system. Elderberry has been clinically shown to disarm flu viruses and prevent them from replicating in the body.

Elderberry contains powerful flavonoids including anthocyanins that are located in the pigment of the fruit. These flavonoids (antioxidants) help your body's immune system to fight unwelcome invaders. In placebo-controlled, double-blind studies, Elderberry has been found to effectively treat influenza. Elderberry inhibits neuraminidase, the enzyme used by the virus to spread infection to host cells. Elderberry constituents literally “coat” the virus, preventing it from attaching to receptor sites. The virus ends up bouncing off. Once coated, the virus can be more easily detected by the immune system, which then can dispatch it.

How effective is Elderberry against the H1N1 flu virus? A national press release dated September 10, 2009, entitled “A recent research study indicated that Herbal Science’s proprietary Elderberry Extract prevents H1N1 influenza infection” states the following: “According to this recent research study, new scientific evidence demonstrates that elderberries can block flu viruses. This research involved a specific, reproducible elderberry extract developed by HerbalScience Group LLC, (called Immunity Take Care by New Chapter) and succeeded in identifying key chemical components of the extract that inhibited in vitro infection and were shown to bind directly to Human Influenza A (H1N1) virus particles. The binding blocked the ability of the viruses to enter host cells, and thereby effectively preventing H1N1 infection in vitro.1

“These research results are notable not only because they identified and characterized two specific flavonoids (plant nutrients that are beneficial to health) that are the major contributors to the anti-influenza activity of the elderberry extract, but also verified how the flavonoids provide that benefit, via direct binding to H1N1 virus particles and blocking the virus from infecting host cells.” “Using methods, technologies, and procedures that are standard in the pharmaceutical industry and new technologies developed by us, we were able to demonstrate the effectiveness of the elderberry extract in inhibiting viral entry into target cells and effectively blocking its ability to reproduce."1 An article detailing the study, titled "Elderberry Flavonoids Bind To and Prevent H1N1 Infection In Vitro," has been published in the peer-review scientific journal Phytochemistry.”2

The elderberry extract used in this study is the result of the DARTvision technology developed by HerbalScience that enables the company to standardize the chemical profile of any selected botanical in order to deliver a compositionally and functionally consistent product that is effective and safe. The DART (Direct Analysis in Real Time) Time-of-Flight mass spectrometer is one of the most advanced mass spectrometric technologies available and is able to detect, identify with high accuracy, and quantify the hundreds or thousands of individual chemicals present in botanical extracts.

This Elderberry extract created from HerbalScience’s research and technology is called Immunity Take Care, which is manufactured and distributed solely by New Chapter. Immunity Take Care is a fast dissolving, great tasting, all natural lozenge that you hold under your tongue. It enters and starts working in your bloodstream in minutes - not hours, unlike anti-virals whose primary delivery mechanism has to work through the GI tract (stomach lining). While many conventional extracts of Elderberry are available, none consistently provide the broad spectrum of herbal chemistries and key bioactives available in Immunity Take Care.

By utilizing this DARTvision technology, Immunity Take Care is able to provide a dosage assured potency. This means that Immunity Take Care's herbal extract is fingerprinted and guaranteed to have the same full-spectrum potency from capsule to capsule without the variation common in natural herbal therapeutics. This ensures that the whole intelligence of the herb is consistently delivered.

HerbalScience scientists also developed a process that enables the beneficial chemical compounds in botanicals to be enhanced while removing any harmful compounds like heavy metals and pesticides. With the application of this technology to the elderberry in Immunity Take Care, the company achieves a consistent chemical profile in its extract with batch-to-batch and dose-to-dose reliability, and maintains the natural synergy of the chemical make-up while optimizing the efficacy of its health benefits.

Because Elderberry is an immune modulator rather than an immune stimulator, is safe to take daily as a preventative against cold and flu viruses, as well as used to treat symptoms of cold and flu. Immune modulators balance and strengthen immune function in the body, whereas immune stimulators can create a hyperactive immune system. So when it comes to cold and flu season, I believe that an ounce of prevention is truly worth a pound of cure and that an Immunity Take Care elderberry lozenge a day can help keep the cold and flu viruses away.

2. July 2009 issue of the peer-reviewed scientific journal Phytochemistry (Volume 70, Issue 10)


Additional Reading:
Immunity Take Care by New Chapter – Product Information

A New Generation Herbal Therapeutic for Blocking Viruses by Taryn Forrelli, ND

Elderberry Primer: An Answer to Support the Body’s Healthy Viral Defenses by Doctor’s Prescription for Healthy Living

"Prior Planning & Prevention to Side-Step the Cold & Flu Season" by Christine Dreher, CCN, CCH

The statements in this article have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The information contained here is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Suggestions and ideas presented in this document are for information only and should not be interpreted as medical advice, meant for diagnosing illness, or for prescriptive purposes. The information in this document is not to be used to replace the services or instructions of a physician or qualified health care practitioner.

Author's Bio: 

Christine Dreher, CCN, CCH is a Nutritionist, Herbalist, Author of “The "Cleanse Cookbook" and President & Founder of Christine's Cleanse Corner, Inc., (a nutritional company that specializes in nutritional & health education & Whole Food Vitamin Supplements. Christine is the Editor & Publisher of the free, online "Transform Your Health" Nutrition and Health E-Newsletter. She is also a Health/Nutritional Speaker & Teacher, & a Nutritional, Diet & Internal Cleanse Consultant, and a Live Beyond Organic Mission Marketer.

Christine is also the Official Self Growth Guide for Dietary Supplements. For more information about New Chapter, Garden of Life or Vitamin Code and other Whole Food Vitamin supplements and herbs, visit Christine on the web at: or call Christine's office at 858-673-0224.