Historically, black elderberries were among the most regarded folk remedies for coughs, colds, and flu. Now modern science has authenticated these therapeutic properties. In February 2011, researchers at Justus-Liebig University in Geissen, Germany reported that a concentrated liquid extract of black elderberries (Sambucus nigra L.), commercially available as Rubini® - Elderberry Extract 3.2%, inhibited the growth of influenza A and B viruses and bacteria associated with upper respiratory tract infections. Artemis International, Inc.- the nation's experts in dark berry ingredients - has been actively supplying the U.S. with this elderberry extract for the past 16 years for its immune health benefits.

Antibacterial activity of the extract was demonstrated in liquid-cultured strains of pathogenic bacteria often found in association with upper respiratory tract infections. Depending on the concentration, the extract inhibited their growth by 70% to over 99%.

Studies on the antiviral activity of the extract were conducted and results showed that a low concentration of extract that would be safe to normal cells, significantly inhibited the growth of a highly contagious avian type A influenza virus and slower mutating type B influenza virus. Further tests showed cells pre-exposed to the extract had diminished levels of virus production of about 30% and 25% for type A and B influenza virus, respectively. These results suggest that the extract inhibits cell factors which allow the viruses to propagate.

Researchers commented that "Rubini elderberry extract is active against human pathogenic bacteria as well as influenza viruses. In addition, bacterial super-infection during ongoing influenza virus infections complicates the situation for the patient. It would therefore be useful to simultaneously target both. The activities shown by the elderberry extract suggest that alternative approaches to influenza infections might be provided by natural products."

Results of the collaborative efforts of researchers at the Institute for Medical Virology and the Institute for Medical Microbiology at Justus-Liebig University in Geissen, Germany were published February 25th, 2011 in the journal, BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

In 1644, one of the first books devoted to the medicinal uses of black elderberry, Anatomia Sambuci, was published in Latin by German-born physician, Martin Blochwich. An English translation was published in 2010 as The Anatomy of the Elder.

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