Study Spotlight

Study Spotlight

Travel much? Get your elderberry and skip the flu.


If you frequently travel by air, and just as frequently catch a cold or flu as a result, than elderberry should be your new best friend. A new study published in Nutrients shows that participants (traveling  economy class from Australia) who took 600 to 900 mg of a specialized elderberry extract (Haschberg variety) experienced better health overall. And if they did happen to catch a cold or flu, the duration and severity was much shorter and less intense. Extracts from the Haschberg variety of elderberry have been previously shown to have a strong immune boosting effect, so for the researchers, the result of this latest study were probably not surprising. However, if you have any long trips planned, getting this powerful nutrient into your regimen may be just the ticket.

 

The Study: Elderberry Supplementation Reduces Cold Duration and Symptoms in Air-Travellers: A Randomized, Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial

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 Mar 24;8(4). pii: E182. doi: 10.3390/nu8040182.

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 standardised 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.

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