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The dreaded H1N1 flu strain has terrified people around the world for the past two years. Health clinics and doctors' offices have been filled to the brim with people begging for a flu shot. But is there another way to boost your immune system in defense of H1N1, the regular flu and other illnesses? Are there really elderberry wine health benefits?
Some people refer to elderberries as magical. They may not literally be magical, but they do have incredible health benefits that we here in the US are starting to discover.
Elderberries are grown in clusters on elder trees, also called elder bushes. They grow in mild and warm climates, and by late in the summer, the berries mature. A ripe elderberry will have a reddish-purplish hue. With this color indicator, you can either pick or eat them; however, unripe berries have high amounts of toxins and can cause the victim an ill-fated trip to the emergency room.
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Overall Health Benefits
The black elderberry has high levels of anthocyanins, or plant pigments which ward off cell damage and contain powerful antioxidants. They give the immune system a huge boost. In addition, they have anti-inflammatory properties, thus bringing much needed relief to those with aches and pains i.e. those suffering from the flu.
In early 2005, The New York Times reported that the World Health Organization openly acknowledged that Tamiflu, the traditional antiviral medicine to prevent and cure influenza, is not as effective as originally thought. Experts cited only partial effectiveness and an unwanted host of side effects. The cost of Tamiflu is very expensive as well.
Enter the world of the elderberry. Besides anthocyanins and anti-inflammatory agents, elderberries contain vitamins A, B and loads of vitamin C. In fact, studies have shown that people who take a form of elderberry in treating the flu reported less severe symptoms and had a significantly faster recovery than those who didn't.
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The most potent form of elderberry is in fact the syrup. Bought at a local health food store, the syrup comes in the brand name form of Sambucol, named after the fruit's genus of Sambucus. Europeans use it as a medicinal food in a concentrated form. People ingest the syrup to cure flu symptoms and colds.
Thus, wine is not the strongest form of elderberry to receive the maximum health benefits. If you have the flu, it is not recommended to drink a whole bottle of elderberry wine. Instead, it is used more for the prevention of flus and colds. Sipping on elderberry wine as much as your doctor recommends is a great way to boost the immune system. And it's quite a tasty option compared to the syrup. Elderberry juice and tea are available as well.
Many people also make their own elderberry wine, using the black elderberry to enhance the health benefits. You can also purchase it in bottle form at a local winery or wine shop.
Elderberry wine is a wonderful indulgence to keep the immune system running properly. It is a tasty option that adults will love, forgetting as they sip that they're consuming elderberry wine health benefits to fight off those frightful colds and flus.
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"Elderberry Trumps Tamiflu for Flu Remedy." Organic Consumers Association -- organicconsumers.org/articles/article_18105.cfm
Dr. Andrew Weil, M.D. -- drweil.com/drw/u/id/QAA300839
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Photo 1 (black elderberries): Jonathunder -- en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Elderberries2007-08-12.JPG
Photo 2 (elderberry wine): freedigitalphotos.net/
Photo 3 (sick boy): Arvind Balaraman / FreeDigitalPhotos.net -- http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=1058