ROCK HILL, S.C. (WBTV) - Some people are turning to a centuries-old home remedy to protect themselves from the cold and flu this year, and nutritionists say it works.
Elderberry is a plant that has been used to boost the immune system for generations. You can find elderberry syrup in the store, but many people concoct their own recipes.
“You take it primarily during cold and flu season as a preventative,” Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist Lauren Henderson with Piedmont Medical Center said.
Meghan Lowery started taking elderberry syrup regularly when she was pregnant with her daughter during flu season.
“I normally get sick when the season change, I get laryngitis, lose my voice and everything,” Lowery said. “I was pregnant with my daughter during the winter season and the only thing I did differently was take the elderberry consistently and I didn’t get sick throughout my entire pregnancy.”
Lowery perfected her own recipe and now sells it online. Her line is called “Honest Elderberry”.
“This is when I started realizing that it was really helpful, especially as a first time mom to be it was nice to have something that I knew something could support me and not harm my baby,” Lowery said.
WBTV asked Henderson if there was science backing up claims that elderberry can protect against cold and flu.
“There is some science. It’s not going to be studied like a cancer drug or a diabetes drug because there’s probably not a lot money to be made for it,” Henderson said. “But we do have some soft science that says it helps reduce your risk for cold or if you do get flu/cold it helps you get better faster.”
Henderson says you should not eat elderberries raw because they can cause gastric distress. She says the berries should always be cooked down. She also says honey is in many of the elderberry syrup recipes so children younger than two-years-old and lactating mothers should not take elderberry syrup.