(Alternative Medicine Review, March 2005)
(Most references to herpes are based on the references here. The results are promising but more clinical trials would be welcome. The principle of prevention of virus reproduction prevention also applies - but remember that sambucol appears to only be effective on viruses outside the cells. Virses resident within cells are not affected.)
Mumcuoglu et al examined the effects of Sambucol against HSV-1 in human diploid fibro-blasts. Four strains of HSV-1 were utilized--a reference strain, two acyclovir-resistant strains, and a strain isolated from a patient.
Viral replication was completely inhibited in all four strains, whether the cells were pre-incubated with the extract, simultaneously incubated with extract, or the extract was added 30 minutes after viral adsorption to cells.
The complete inhibition of four strains of HSV-1 in vitro by elderberry extract warrants further clinical trials in humans. A formula of Sambucus nigra (flower extract) in combination with Hypericum perforatum and Saponaria officinalis was also found to inhibit the replication of HSV-1 in vitro.
Sambucol was studied for the potential to inhibit the infectivity of HIV isolates in CD4+ cell lines, peripheral blood lymphocytes, and laboratory HIV strains. The elderberry extract at two different dilutions was pre-incubated with HIV virus prior to addition of the cells.
A significant reduction was observed in the infectivity of all HIV strains. In patient isolates treated with the extract, no HIV antigen was detected at either five or nine days post-incubation.
Anecdotal evidence (six case studies) reports a combination of elderberry extract and a thymus extract resulted in a reduction in viral load in people with HIV.
Conditions Associated with Oxidative Stress
Numerous disease states are characterized by oxidative stress, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, neurodegenerative disease, peripheral vascular disease, autoimmune diseases, and multiple sclerosis. The ability of elderberry extract to provide antioxidant protection via inhibition of LDL-oxidation and scavenging of free radicals makes it a potentially valuable tool in the treatment of disease resulting from oxidative stress. (19)
Elderberry's ability to incorporate into endothelial cells and potentially improve endothelial function may also indicate a role in prevention of vascular disease of various kinds.
Effect on Blood Lipids
A randomized, placebo-controlled study of 34 healthy subjects examined the effectiveness of low-dose, powdered elderberry juice (10% anthocyanins) versus placebo on lipid parameters. Elderberry was dosed at 400 mg capsuled powder (equal to 5 mL elderberry juice) three times daily for two weeks; patients were instructed to follow a diet containing 35-percent fat.
Serum was obtained at baseline and at the end of the two-week period. Analysis of results showed a slight, but statistically insignificant, decrease at two weeks in all lipid parameters of the low-dose elderberry extract group compared to baseline.
Total cholesterol was 199 mg/dL at baseline versus 190 mg/dL at the end of the two-week period. Slight reductions were also reported in triglycerides, and HDL- and LDL-cholesterol.
Although improvements in lipid values were statistically insignificant, the dosage of elderberry extract was low and it is possible higher dosages might produce a more significant benefit. In addition, using subjects with normal lipid levels may not be as likely to produce significant results since the lipids are already within the normal range. Further study on patients with elevated lipid levels is warranted.