Elderberries reduce flu symptoms, researchers find

Elderberry fruit can help the body fight influenza, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Sydney in Australia, which was published in the Journal of Functional Foods.

The researchers used commercially farmed elderberries which were turned into a juice serum and were applied to cells before, during, and after they had been infected with the influenza virus.

The phytochemicals from the elderberry juice were shown to be effective at stopping the virus infecting the cells, and researchers found they were even more effective at inhibiting viral propagation at later stages of the influenza cycle when the cells had already been infected with the virus.

Although elderberry's flu-fighting properties have long been observed, the group performed a comprehensive examination of the mechanism by which phytochemicals, compounds that positively effect health, from elderberries combat influenza infections.

The research team also found that the elderberry's antiviral activity can be attributed to its anthocyanidin compounds, phytonutrients responsible for giving the fruit its vivid purple coloring.

Otherwise known as Sambucus nigra, the elderberry is a small, antioxidant rich fruit common to Europe and North America that is still commonly consumed as a jam or wine.

The influenza virus is one of the leading causes of mortality worldwide, affecting nearly 10 percent of the world population and contributing to one million deaths annually. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently noted the 2019 flu season is the longest in a decade.

The study showed that compounds from elderberries can directly inhibit the virus's entry and replication in human cells and can help strengthen a person's immune response to the virus.