10 Benefits And Uses of Elderberry In Jamaica
by Deon Clarke | Associate WriterElderberry (Sambucus nigra)
, a medicinal herb that means “black elder”. It has been used for medicinal purposes for hundreds of years. It is also a perennial herb and numerous species of this plant are found throughout Europe and North America. You will find that many people refer to it as “elder”, others may know the fruit as sweet elder, scarlet elder and the ‘tree of music’. And guess what? It is found right here in many parts of Jamaica! Right here in Montego Bay too!
I must say that it is not popularly known in Jamaica even though it is found here. Even I only learnt of it some 10 years ago. A coworker of mine had brought some to the office and I got the chance to taste it. I was so fascinated by it as I had never seen this fruit before and to know that it was right here on the island. The taste to me was like a cross between guineps and grapes and they almost look like grapes but with a firmer texture. It’s also nicer and juicier when well-ripened.
What’s so special about this plant though? Although I got to taste it, I really had no idea of its health benefits so we will be looking at 10 benefits and uses of yet another medicinal wonder plant found right here in Jamaica.
- It Helps To Boost Immunity
A number of studies show that elderberries have the ability to boost the immune system. One report that was published by the University of Maryland Medical Center speaks about the powerful immune-boosting effects of elderberries.
The fruit is considered to decrease mucus production during cold and flu and ease the symptoms. A Japanese study confirms that it is an excellent remedy for the debilitating symptoms of influenza.
Elderberries boost immunity by increasing the production of inflammatory cytokines and by so doing, they also help treat upper respiratory tract infections and even other respiratory ailments.
The elderberry syrup that is made from the berries, helps to increases antioxidant levels in the body and helps to fight diseases. It also contains vitamins C and A, which helps to maintain optimal health. Elderberries also help to protect the body against viruses that are prone to damage cell walls.
- It Helps To Improve Digestive Health
Though there is limited research on this, elderberries, like most fruits, are considered to be a very good source of fibre and enhances digestion. The fibre in the fruit is also helpful in treating other digestive issues such as constipation, gas, upset stomach and bloating.
- It Can Help To Prevent Cancer
Scientists from all over the world had used elderberries in the treatment of cancer and with much success. They attribute this to the quercetin found in elderberries. This has therapeutic effects that stimulate the immune system and helps in the treatment.
There are also other studies that show, elderberries can help in the treatment of prostate cancer. The berries are known to prevent the biochemical process of “hedgehog signalling”, which has been proven to be linked to cancer.
- It Enhances Heart Health
Who doesn’t need a healthy heart? Elderberries aid in the regulation of blood pressure due to their rich content in potassium (while also having great potassium to sodium ratio). They ensure that blood vessels relax. As we know, a high potassium diet reduces the strain on the heart. Studies have shown that the risk of death by ischemic heart disease in individuals who consume a high amount of potassium (and we don’t mean excess) was reduced by 49%.
Elderberries are also considered to be helpful in regulating cholesterol levels and even boost circulation (helping to keep the heart in good shape).
Another beneficial compound that is found in elderberries is anthocyanins, which helps to protect the inner layer of blood vessels from stress caused by oxidation. This protects the cells from inflammatory stressors and ultimately results in the improvement of circulation and thereby reducing the risk of heart disease.
- It Helps In Treating Diabetes
Though studies are limited, reports show that elderberries can help to lower blood sugar levels, thus aiding in the treatment of diabetes.
- It Helps To Strengthen Bones
Elderberries are known to strengthen bones and increase bone mineral density, thereby reducing the risk of osteoporosis due to their potassium, calcium and iron content. In Addition to this, the anthocyanins in the berries are considered to be helpful in even preventing bone loss in certain cases.
- It Can Help With Weight Loss
Struggling to lose weight? Just like most fruits, elderberries are very rich in fibre. And, as we know, fibre improves satiety and can help with losing weight. This has also been proven by a German study, where participants who took the elderberry juice that was enriched with elderberry flower and the extracts saw a significant improvement in weight regulation.
- It Helps To Improve The Skin And Keeps Hair Healthy
Elderberries are infused with innate anti-aging and free radical fighting properties, that keeps your skin radiant for longer periods. Additionally, they act as a natural detoxifier and help to prevent distressing skin conditions such as boils, breakouts and scars.
Again, the anthocyanins in elderberries (the compounds that give them their red colour) were found to naturally boost the health of your skin. It also protects against skin damage. In fact, distilled elderberry flower water is known to restore the health of the skin as well as lighten freckles. By applying the fruit extract you can also reduce inflammation and bruising. The extract can also help to treat herpes. The antioxidants found in the berry can fight the herpes virus and provide relief.
The berries are also excellent for the hair. You can get some elderflower oil, mix it with some of your other favourite oils and apply it to the areas of your scalp where you have a problem. The serum is also great for the treatment of split ends and hairlines that are problematic. They might even encourage new growth for your hair.
- It Can Boost Vision Health
Due to its rich content of vitamins A and B6, elderberries can help to prevent serious vision illnesses such as glaucoma and macular degeneration. The antioxidant in elderberries also helps to ensure a healthy vision in the long run.
- Help Treat Urinary Tract Infections And Fight Inflammation
Some sources consider the infusions of elderberry juice to be helpful to reduce urinary tract inflammation and to treat urinary tract infections.
A number of studies also speak to the anti-inflammatory properties of elderberries. In fact, elderberries have even been used to treat inflammation of the eye. The anthocyanins in elderberries help to fight inflammation by fighting oxidative stress.
And here’s a bonus one!
- It Improves Brain Health
Elderberries are filled with quercetin, an important flavonoid that is critical for brain health. Quercetin reduces harmful inflammation in the cells. It also activates the mitochondria in your cells – which are powerhouses that boost the health of your cells.
One study speaks on how the anthocyanins in berries (including elderberries) can help to treat cognitive impairment that results in conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease.
Now that we have discussed the benefits of elderberries (which was by the way a mouthful, I mean, how can you not have some of these awesome plants growing in your back yard!), what about ways in which you can use this awesome medicinal plant? Let’s check out a few of them.Other Uses Of Elderberries
- The berries can be used to make syrups, teas, wine, tinctures and jams.
- Elderberry wine is used as a popular addition to meals.
- The flowers of the elderberry plant are used to make jelly and can also be used in baking.
- The flowers of the elderberry plant are used internally to treat influenza and skin irritations.
I also recommend you read 15 Health Benefits and Uses of Rosemary in Jamaica
- Elderberry Medicinal Herb | Natural Influenza Treatment, Medicinal Herb 4-U, https://www.medicinalherbs-4u.com/elderberry.html
- 12 Amazing Benefits Of Elderberry For Skin, Hair, And Health, Style Craze, https://www.stylecraze.com/articles/amazing-health-benefits-of-elderberries/
- Getting the most out of herbs | Lifestyle Archive, Gleaner Jamaica, https://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20100522/life/life7.html
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