Elderberry extract has been touted for its immune-boosting properties, but what is the mechanism behind this claim? In this article, we will examine the scientific evidence behind elderberry extract and its effects on the immune system.
First, it is important to understand that the immune system is complex and consists of many different cells and molecules that work together to defend the body against pathogens. One key component of the immune system is the cytokine network, which is responsible for coordinating the immune response. Cytokines are small proteins that act as messengers between cells, signaling them to either activate or suppress the immune response.
Research has shown that elderberry extract can modulate the cytokine network, leading to enhanced immune function. Specifically, elderberry extract has been found to increase the production of certain cytokines, such as interferon-gamma and interleukin-6, which are involved in activating immune cells like T cells and natural killer cells.
In addition to its effects on cytokines, elderberry extract also contains compounds called anthocyanins, which have antioxidant properties. Antioxidants help to protect cells from damage caused by free radicals, which can contribute to inflammation and other immune-related problems.
Several studies have investigated the effects of elderberry extract on the immune system in humans. One study published in the Journal of International Medical Research found that participants who took an elderberry supplement had higher levels of antibodies against the influenza virus compared to those who took a placebo. Another study published in the European Cytokine Network found that elderberry extract increased the production of cytokines in healthy adults.
While these studies provide promising evidence for the immune-boosting effects of elderberry extract, it is important to note that more research is needed to fully understand its mechanism of action. Additionally, it is important to use caution when interpreting the results of these studies, as they may not be applicable to everyone.
In conclusion, elderberry extract appears to enhance immune function through its effects on the cytokine network and its antioxidant properties. While more research is needed to fully understand its mechanism of action, the available evidence suggests that elderberry extract may be a useful supplement for supporting immune health. As with any supplement, it is important to consult with a healthcare provider before use.