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Antiviral properties of Elderberry

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Abstract

Sambucus nigra products (Sambucol) have antiviral properties against different strains of influenza virus. Sambucol Elderberry Extract and its formulations activate the healthy immune system by increasing inflammatory cytokine production. Standardized elderberry liquid extract possesses antimicrobial activity against both Gram-positive bacteria of Streptococcus pyogenes and group C and G Streptococci, and the Gram-negative bacterium Branhamella catarrhalis in liquid cultures. Sambucus Formosana Nakai stem ethanol extract displayed the strong anti-HCoV-NL63 (human coronavirus NL63) potential.
1
Antiviral properties of Elderberry
Domina Petric, MD
ABSTRACT: Sambucus nigra products (Sambucol) have antiviral properties against
different strains of influenza virus. Sambucol Elderberry Extract and its formulations activate
the healthy immune system by increasing inflammatory cytokine production. Standardized
elderberry liquid extract possesses antimicrobial activity against both Gram-positive bacteria
of Streptococcus pyogenes and group C and G Streptococci, and the Gram-negative
bacterium Branhamella catarrhalis in liquid cultures. Sambucus Formosana Nakai stem
ethanol extract displayed the strong anti-HCoV-NL63 (human coronavirus NL63) potential.
Sambucus nigra L. products (Sambucol)
are based on a standardized black
elderberry extract. They are natural
remedies with antiviral properties,
especially against different strains of
influenza virus. Sambucol was shown to be
effective in vitro against 10 strains of
influenza virus.
In a double-blind, placebo-controlled,
randomized study conducted by Barak and
coworkers (2001), Sambucol reduced the
duration of flu symptoms to 3-4 days.
Convalescent phase serum showed a higher
antibody level to influenza virus in the
Sambucol group, than in the control group.
The production of inflammatory cytokines
was tested using blood-derived monocytes
from 12 healthy human donors. Adherent
monocytes were separated from PBL and
incubated with different Sambucol
preparations i.e., Sambucol Elderberry
Extract, Sambucol Black Elderberry Syrup,
Sambucol Immune System and Sambucol
for Kids. Production of inflammatory
cytokines (IL-1 beta, TNF-alpha, IL-6, and
IL-8) was significantly increased, mostly
by the Sambucol Black Elderberry Extract
(2-45 fold), as compared to LPS, a known
monocyte activator (3.6-10.7 fold).
The most striking increase was noted in
TNF-alpha production (44.9 fold).
Authors concluded from this study that, in
addition to its antiviral properties,
Sambucol Elderberry Extract and its
formulations activate the healthy immune
system by increasing inflammatory
cytokine production
1
.
Conducted by Professor Fariba Deghani,
Dr Golnoosh Torabian and Dr Peter
Valtchev as part of the ARC Training
Centre for the Australian Food Processing
2
Industry, the study showed that compounds
from elderberries can directly inhibit the
influenza virus's entry and replication in
human cells, and can help strengthen a
person's immune response to the virus.
The phytochemicals from the elderberry
juice were shown to be effective at
stopping the virus infecting the cells, but
they were even more effective at inhibiting
viral propagation at later stages of the
influenza cycle when the cells had already
been infected with the virus. The team also
found that the elderberry's antiviral activity
can be attributed to its anthocyanidin
compounds, phytonutrients responsible for
giving the fruit its vivid purple colouring
2
.
In the study conducted by Krawitz and
coworkers (2011) it was shown that a
standardized elderberry liquid extract
possesses antimicrobial activity against
both Gram-positive bacteria
of Streptococcus pyogenes and group C
and G Streptococci, and the Gram-negative
bacterium Branhamella catarrhalis in
liquid cultures. The liquid extract also
displays an inhibitory effect on the
propagation of human pathogenic
influenza viruses
3
.
Elderberry extract from fruit and flowers
appears to show some inhibitory effect
against many microorganisms including
those found as nosocomial pathogens such
as MRSA, HIV, Mycoplasmae, IBV
coronavirus (infectious bronchitis virus, a
pathogenic chicken coronavirus), and
influenza (and its bacterial super-
infections). These effects may be stronger
in vivo than in vitro. Elderberry is also
shown to have potential as an ingredient in
a hospital disinfectant for which in vitro
trials are sufficient. The author of the
systematic review, Wermig-Morgan Julia
proposed that elderberry should also be
tested on SARS and other novel
coronaviruses such as COVID-19
4
.
Human coronavirus NL63 (HCoV-NL63),
one of the main circulating HCoVs
worldwide, causes respiratory tract
illnesses like runny nose, cough,
bronchiolitis and pneumonia.
Sambucus Formosana Nakai, a species
of elderberry, is a traditional medicinal
herb with anti-inflammatory and antiviral
potential. The study conducted by Weng
and coworkers (2019) investigated the
antiviral activity of Sambucus Formosana
Nakai stem ethanol extract and some
phenolic acid constituents against HCoV-
NL63. The extract was less cytotoxic and
concentration-dependently increased anti-
HCoV-NL63 activities, including
cytopathicity, sub-G1 fraction, virus yield
(IC50=1.17 µg/ml), plaque formation
(IC50=4.67 µg/ml) and virus attachment
(IC50=15.75 µg/ml). Among the phenolic
3
acid constituents
in Sambucus FormosanaNakai extract,
caffeic acid, chlorogenic acid and gallic
acid sustained the anti-HCoV-NL63
activity that was ranked in the following
order of virus yield reduction: caffeic acid
(IC
50
=3.54 µM)>chlorogenic acid
(IC
50
=43.45 µM)>coumaric acid
(IC
50
=71.48 µM). Caffeic acid
significantly inhibited the replication of
HCoV-NL63 in a cell-type independent
manner, and specifically blocked virus
attachment (IC
50
=8.1 µM). The results
revealed that Sambucus Formosana Nakai
stem ethanol extract displayed the strong
anti-HCoV-NL63 potential. Caffeic acid
could be the vital component with anti-
HCoV-NL63 activity
5
.
Results of the study conducted by Chen
and coworkers demonstrated that S. nigra
extract can inhibit IBV (infectious
bronchitis virus, a pathogenic
chicken coronavirus) at an early point in
infection, probably by rendering the virus
non-infectious. Authors also suggest that
future studies using S. nigra extract to treat
or prevent IBV or other coronaviruses are
warranted
6
.
CONCLUSION
Sambucus nigra products (Sambucol) have
antiviral properties against different strains
of influenza virus. Sambucol Elderberry
Extract and its formulations activate the
healthy immune system by increasing
inflammatory cytokine production.
Standardized elderberry liquid extract
possesses antimicrobial activity against
both Gram-positive bacteria
of Streptococcus pyogenes and group C
and G Streptococci, and the Gram-negative
bacterium Branhamella catarrhalis in
liquid cultures. Sambucus Formosana
Nakai stem ethanol extract displayed the
strong anti-HCoV-NL63 (human
coronavirus NL63) potential.
4
REFERENCES
1. Barak V, Halperin T, Kalickman I. The effect of
Sambucol, a black elderberry-based natural product
on the production of human cytokines: I.
Inflammatory cytokines. Eur Cytokine Netw.
2001;12(2):290-6.
2. Torabian G, Valtchev P, Qayyum A, Dehghani F.
Anti-influenza activity of elderberry (Sambucus
nigra). Journal of Functional Foods. 2019;54:353.
3. Krawitz C, Mraheil MA, Stein M, et al.
Inhibitory activity of a standardized elderberry
liquid extract against clinically-relevant human
respiratory bacterial pathogens and influenza A and
B viruses. BMC Complement Altern Med.
2011;11:16.
4. Wermig-Morgan J. Elderberry is anti-bacterial,
anti-viral and modulates the immune system: anti-
bacterial, anti-viral and immunomodulatory non-
clinical (in-vitro) effects of elderberry fruit and
flowers (Sambucus nigra): a systematic review.
2020. Retrieved from (27-03-2020)
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/33923700
8_Elderberry_is_anti-bacterial_anti-
viral_and_modulates_the_immune_system_anti-
bacterial_anti-viral_and_immunomodulatory_non-
clinical_in-
vitro_effects_of_elderberry_fruit_and_flowers_Sa
mbucus_nigra_a_sy
5. Weng JR, Lin CS, Lai HC, et al. Antiviral
activity of Sambucus Formosana Nakai ethanol
extract and related phenolic acid constituents
against human coronavirus NL63. Virus Res.
2019;273:197767.
6. Chen C, Zuckerman DM, Brantley S, et al.
Sambucus nigra extracts inhibit infectious
bronchitis virus at an early point during replication.
BMC Vet Res. 2014;10:24.
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
Thesis
Full-text available
Elderberry extract from fruit and flowers appears to show some inhibitory effect against many microorganisms including those found as nosocomial pathogens (hospital “super-bugs”) e.g. MRSA; HIV; Mycoplasmae; IBV coronavirus (an envelope virus), and influenza (and its bacterial super-infections). These effects may be stronger in-vivo than in-vitro. The immunomodulatory effects of S. nigra have been investigated and appear to show that the plant would be likely to stimulate the immune systems of the weak or immune-compromised. It has also been investigated to see whether it would exacerbate or mitigate a cytokine storm, and does not seem to make one worse and might dampen it. Elderberry is also shown to have potential as an ingredient in a hospital disinfectant for which in-vitro trials are sufficient, and without effective disinfectants modern medicine will become impossible. The S. nigra inactivates two distinct envelope viruses and should be tested on Ebola, also an envelope virus, as it is likely that it may inactivate that too. It should also be tested on SARS and other novel coronaviruses such as COVID-19 which are all envelope viruses. Other species of Sambucus appear to have very similar properties including inhibiting coronaviruses. Elderberry seems to have potential as a useful medicine, particularly since there are reasons to believe resistance to it is unlikely to ever develop. It might be possible to use it in combination with leeks (Gallium porrum) which are also anti-viral. Elderberry has been shown to be effective against upper respiratory tract diseases including some Coronaviruses, and has potential against the current pandemic of Covid-19. Two case studies, included here, suggest it to be effective against Covid-19 caused by SARS-CoV-2, and clinical trials are under way. In-vitro trials are planned to test it against other viral possible future pandemics.
Article
Human coronavirus NL63 (HCoV-NL63), one of the main circulating HCoVs worldwide, causes respiratory tract illnesses like runny nose, cough, bronchiolitis and pneumonia. Recently, a severe respiratory illness outbreak of HCoV-NL63 has been reported in a long-term care facility. Sambucus Formosana Nakai, a species of elderberry, is a traditional medicinal herb with anti-inflammatory and antiviral potential. The study investigated the antiviral activity of Sambucus Formosana Nakai stem ethanol extract and some phenolic acid constituents against HCoV-NL63. The extract was less cytotoxic and concentration-dependently increased anti-HCoV-NL63 activities, including cytopathicity, sub-G1 fraction, virus yield (IC50 = 1.17 μg/ml), plaque formation (IC50 = 4.67 μg/ml) and virus attachment (IC50 = 15.75 μg/ml). Among the phenolic acid constituents in Sambucus Formosana Nakai extract, caffeic acid, chlorogenic acid and gallic acid sustained the anti-HCoV-NL63 activity that was ranked in the following order of virus yield reduction: caffeic acid (IC50 = 3.54 μM) > chlorogenic acid (IC50 = 43.45 μM) > coumaric acid (IC50 = 71.48 μM). Caffeic acid significantly inhibited the replication of HCoV-NL63 in a cell- type independent manner, and specifically blocked virus attachment (IC50 = 8.1 μM). Therefore, the results revealed that Sambucus Formosana Nakai stem ethanol extract displayed the strong anti-HCoV-NL63 potential; caffeic acid could be the vital component with anti-HCoV-NL63 activity. The finding could be helpful for developing antivirals against HCoV-NL63.
Sambucol, a black elderberry-based natural product on the production of human cytokines: I. Inflammatory cytokines
Sambucol, a black elderberry-based natural product on the production of human cytokines: I. Inflammatory cytokines. Eur Cytokine Netw. 2001;12(2):290-6.
Anti-influenza activity of elderberry (Sambucus nigra)
Anti-influenza activity of elderberry (Sambucus nigra). Journal of Functional Foods. 2019;54:353.
pathogens and influenza A and B viruses
  • C Krawitz
  • M A Mraheil
  • M Stein
Krawitz C, Mraheil MA, Stein M, et al. pathogens and influenza A and B viruses. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2011;11:16.
Sambucus nigra extracts inhibit infectious bronchitis virus at an early point during replication
Sambucus nigra extracts inhibit infectious bronchitis virus at an early point during replication. BMC Vet Res. 2014;10:24.