Elderberry for Travel and Cold and Flu Season

While frequent flying can also mean frequent illness, an ounce of elderberry may provide more than a pound of cure.

An Australian clinical study of 312 individuals found that this elderberry extract cut the risk of colds or flu in half. In fact, even those who did catch something had milder symptoms and a shorter duration of illness.

Elderberry (Sambucus nigra L) has been used medicinally for hundreds of years. This study mirrors previous studies showing that elderberry can reduce symptoms and shorten the duration of the cold and flu. Elderberry contains potent anthocyanins and other polyphenols that prevent oxidative stress and inflammation. Elderberry also inhibits the growth of influenza A and B viruses and bacteria associated with upper respiratory tract infections. So whether you travel frequently or not, this botanical medicine is a must for the cold and flu season.

One of the reasons that elderberry is so powerful is that it delivers an array of natural immune-supporting compounds, including anthocyanins, quercetin, rutin, and other strong components that help restore the body’s ability to fight off invaders. These compounds also directly interfere with the very structure of viruses, which not only prevents them from entering through cell walls, but also from replicating in the first place. Plus, they activate the body’s own antiviral police force of phagocytes to move toward any cells that are under attack.


Tiralongo E, Wee SS, Lea RA. Elderberry Supplementation Reduces Cold Duration and Symptoms in Air-Travellers: A Randomized, Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial. Nutrients. 2016;8(4):182.

Intercontinental air travel can be stressful, especially for respiratory health. Elderberries have been used traditionally, and in some observational and clinical studies, as supportive agents against the common cold and influenza. This randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial of 312 economy class passengers travelling from Australia to an overseas destination aimed to investigate if a standardized membrane filtered elderberry (Sambucus nigra L.) extract has beneficial effects on physical, especially respiratory, and mental health. Cold episodes, cold duration and symptoms were noted in a daily diary and assessed using the Jackson score. Participants also completed three surveys containing questions regarding upper respiratory symptoms (WURSS-21) and quality of life (SF-12) at baseline, just before travel and at 4-days after travel. Most cold episodes occurred in the placebo group (17 vs. 12), however the difference was not significant (p = 0.4). Placebo group participants had a significantly longer duration of cold episode days (117 vs. 57, p = 0.02) and the average symptom score over these days was also significantly higher (583 vs. 247, p = 0.05). These data suggest a significant reduction of cold duration and severity in air travelers. More research is warranted to confirm this effect and to evaluate elderberry’s physical and mental health benefits.

Click here for the complete article: Elderberry Supplementation Reduces Cold Duration and Symptoms in Air-Travellers: A Randomized, Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial