Humans are specialized generalists. As a species, we’ve proven remarkably flexible and adaptive in our socialization, habitat, and especially our diet. Whereas panda bears only ever chow down on bamboo and house cats are happy to consume kibble twice a day, humans eat everything from apples to zucchini and plenty in between.
But even still, we’re missing out. Of the 300,000 species of plants known to be edible, only about 40 of them are available at your local supermarket. That means we eat less than 0.1% of the world’s edible plants. Barely a sliver! In the United States, elderberry is one of those plants that isn’t found in the produce aisle, and thus rarely consumed. Which is a shame, because elderberry is a particularly potent nugget of antioxidants and polyphenols. It’s long been used in folk medicine, and has antiviral and immunity-stimulating properties substantiated by modern science.
Even though the root word “elder” (appropriately!) suggests ancient wisdom, the name elderberry comes from the anglo-saxon root “aeld”, meaning fire - elderberry twigs were commonly used for kindling. The black elderberry grows throughout Europe and Asia, where Hippocrates - the ancient Greek “father of medicine” - called the plant his “medicine chest” for it’s numerous therapeutic qualities. Elderberry fruit was used to treat everything from the common cold to diarrhea. The black elderberry’s close cousin, the American elder, has been used by indigenous Americans to treat fever and rheumatism.
Many of elderberry’s traditional uses can be chalked up to the fruit’s tannin and viburnic acid content - two compounds known to have a positive effect on nasal congestion and digestion. More recently, elderberries have been found to have an antioxidant potential that exceeds even blueberries. This is due to the high concentration of certain polyphenols in the elderberry fruit. For instance, anthocyanins (the polyphenol compound that gives elderberries their rich purple color) are known to neutralize free radicals in both the intestine and the blood stream; which leads to lower cellular inflammation and a reduced risk of cancer. Elderberry’s anti-viral properties are proven by research - it’s been shown to inhibit the spread of viruses, including 11 strains of the flu. It also increases the production of cytokines - proteins in our body that influence cell growth and kick our immune systems into gear. In sum, elderberry = immune boost + anti-inflammation. Simple math!
Elderberry is everywhere in Europe - common in candies, james and even brandy! But we believe that Elderberry deserves more recognition stateside, especially in light of its bountiful health properties. We added 1000mg of elderberry to Happy Being® - even though only 600mg has been proven effective. We couldn’t help but add a second serving. It’s just that good!