Elderberry reduces cold severity in air travellers: Study


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'(Chest) clearance, Clarence?' Air travellers had shorter cold duration if they consumed elderberry supplements than placebo, researchers have found.
'(Chest) clearance, Clarence?' Air travellers had shorter cold duration if they consumed elderberry supplements than placebo, researchers have found.

Related tags Common cold

Antioxidant-rich elderberry extracts can reduce the severity of colds among air travellers, Australian researchers have found.

Compared to placebo, the group taking 2 or 3 x 300 mg elderberry supplements per day had shorter cold duration and less severe cold symptoms suggesting that elderberry reduces the duration and severity of the cold, but not the rate of cold occurrence.”

The paper was presented at the 21st Annual International Integrative Medicine Conference in Melbourne this month by Griffith University researchers led by Evelin Tiralongo, PhD, from the School of Pharmacy at the institution.

She told us the paper that studied 312 economy air travellers flying a minimum of seven hours would be sent to the Integrative Medicine​ journal imminently.

While the mechanism of action is not known, professor Tiralongo suggested it was down to the elderberry’s raised antioxidant levels and the anti-bacterial action of a whole fruit extract.

“The elderberry antioxidant level is so high you can’t eat it as a whole fruit,” ​professor Tiralongo said. “So that may explain its impact on cold duration and its popularity in traditional medicine although further research is required.” 


She added in a statement: “The results indicate some benefit for air travellers, and may be due to the high anthocyanidin and magnesium content of the tested elderberry formula."

The randomised, double blind, placebo controlled study was commissioned by the German BerryPharma subsidiary of Italian fruit player Iprona and used its branded elderberry (Sambucus nigra ​L.) extracts.

The 312 air travellers ventured between Australia and another destination where they stayed at least four days and with a stop-over of no longer than 12 hours. Cold episodes, duration and symptoms were measured using the Jackson score as well as surveys.

“It seems worthwhile to undertake more clinical research with high quality elderberry preparations to better understand beneficial health implications of this nutritional traditional medicine,”​ the researchers concluded.


Iprona´s technical director, Anthony Jacobs, spoke of the extraction technology used for the herb.

“Iprona uses a membrane ultra filtration technology, which is a proprietary technology that no one else uses. Unlike many extracts that use chemicals during the extraction, we use a purely mechanical separation process, which enables the separation of substances according to their different molecular sizes using semi-permeable membranes — so no chemicals or heat are required.

“In essence, it is an enrichment process, because it increases the effectiveness of the powder product by increasing the concentration of all the desirable nutrients, thereby preserving most of the original food matrix."

A recent study​ found a combination of echinacea and elderberry root is as effective as the medicine, Tamiflu, in the treatment of flu.


Presented at the 21st Annual International Integrative Medicine Conference - July 17-19, Melbourne, Australia

Does elderberry benefit intercontinental air travellers?”

Authors: Evelin Tiralongo, Shirley S. Wee, Rod A. Lea

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