Elderberries are the latest magic ‘cure’ for your cold

Feel a cold coming on? Instead of guzzling OJ, people are increasingly reaching for a buzzy alternative: elderberry.

The ingredient, sold in syrup, tea or pill form at drug and health stores, is suddenly the wellness elixir du jour, thanks to growing research suggesting immunity-boosting benefits.

More products containing elderberry are hitting the market, including those backed by celebrities. Vitamin company Garden of Life, pushed by Alicia Silverstone, recently began selling elderberry syrup and gummies. Analysts from market research firm Technavio have predicted that the elderberry market will grow about 7 percent each year to 2022.

“Elderberry has always been a favorite among those who use herbs as medicine, but there is a particular incline in sales this season, since more and more people are open to taking herbs than ever before,” says clinical herbalist Arielle Hayat, who works at Lower East Side botanical shop Alchemist’s Kitchen, which sells elderberry blended in elixirs.

Some research shows that elderberry, the fruit of a shrub common in the US and elsewhere, is associated with shorter colds and less severe symptoms, according to a 2016 study published in the journal Nutrients. The herbal ingredient is rich in vitamin C.

That study backed up a 2011 report published in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, which found that people who had flu-like symptoms and took 15 milliliters of elderberry extract four times a day for five days had a shorter period of sickness compared with those who took a placebo.

Hayat recommends an elderberry elixir, such as Herbal Revolution’s Elderberry Plus Elixir ($18 at herbalrev.com), which contains ingredients such as elderberry, ginger root and Lion’s Mane.

Her suggested dose is one full dropper, about 45 drops, three times a day preventively, or, if you’re already feeling sick, 1.5 full droppers, about 70 drops, every two hours for one to two days.

However, the National Institutes of Health warns that the current evidence is still not strong enough to support elderberry as an immunity-boosting medicine. And it hasn’t been proven to cure illnesses such as influenza, so people should still talk to their doctors when symptoms — such as a high fever — flare up.

Still, experts say it can’t hurt to arm yourself with a natural remedy that’s been used for centuries.

“It’s something everyone should have ready to go in the medicine cabinet,” Hayat says.

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