Elderberry

Elderberry: Promising Weapon Against LDL Cholesterol

Elderberry: Promising Weapon Against LDL Cholesterol

 By Carl Thompson | March 27, 2015

Heritage ingredient may be a potent ally in cardiovascular health.

As we tap into the healing powers of traditional natural ingredients, Elderberry is proving its worth. This remarkable family of fruit-bearing shrubs, including varieties such as European elderberry (Sambucus nigra L.) and dwarf elderberry (Sambucus ebulus L.), has a wide range of health benefits. It contains potent antioxidants (in the form of anthocyanins), and offers antibiotic and antiviral properties. But another realm we’re just beginning to explore has to do with reducing levels of harmful LDL cholesterol in our blood. While still a new frontier, elderberry’s cholesterol-busting possibilities are promising.

Elderberry has long been considered a versatile, curative ingredient, a staple of medicine since ancient Greece and Rome. Hippocrates relied on elderberry for a myriad of cures. Elderberry’s usefulness is the focus of a comprehensive 17th-century German medical handbook, The Anatomy of the Elder, by German physician Martin Blochwich. Filled with recipes for extracts, tinctures, spirits and preserves, Dr. Blochwich’s work has much information that is still relevant today. It was recently re-published by BerryPharma AG, a firm that produces elderberry-based medicinal products.

Elderberry’s Effect On LDL Cholesterol
Flash forward to the 21st century, and science is showing that elderberry may even surpass its traditional medical uses. In 2004, a study on healthy volunteers showed that even small doses of elderberry may reduce blood cholesterol—50ml of elderberry juice in a non-concentrated form was administered to one group; 400 mg of spray-dried powder (the equivalent of 5 ml of elderberry juice) was given to another group. The results suggested that higher doses of elderberry could significantly reduce the levels of serum lipids—including LDL cholesterol—in the blood following a meal. This could be a significant development in cardiovascular health, particularly given LDL-cholesterol’s contributing role in the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Ten years later, a study found that dwarf elderberry, or Danewort, had a marked effect on LDL cholesterol. This time, the doses given were higher: a group of health subjects was given a daily dose of 200 ml of elderberry fruit infusion. The results after the 30-day trial were striking. The subjects’ blood triglycerides decreased by 14.92%, their total cholesterol decreased by 15.04% and—most critically—the level of LDL cholesterol decreased by 24.67%. Further, the ratio of HDL (good) to LDL (bad) cholesterol in the study’s subjects increased by 42.77%.

Benefits When Combined with Fish Oil
Other studies have focused on elderberry’s power when combined with another substance, such as fish oil. Fish oil has been shown to have strong protective effects on the heart and the circulatory system, but it can also increase the oxidative stress on the body—an imbalance between the production of free radicals and the ability of the body to counteract and detoxify their harmful effects. But a 2012 study on hamsters found that coupling a dose of fish oil with antioxidant rich elderberry extract (Sambucus nigra L.) can significantly reduce the level of oxidative stress. It was the addition of elderberry to the regimen that led to a measurable improvement in cardiovascular health.

Clearly, elderberry has a place in our curative toolbox, and we’re just starting to appreciate its many uses. With its potential ability to reduce LDL-cholesterol, it may be a powerful ally in cardiovascular health. As modern science demonstrates, this heritage ingredient is living up to its ancient reputation.


Carl Thompson has been a freelance health and medical journalist for more than three decades. He specializes in natural alternatives to the synthetic products of the pharmaceutical industry, and is a research writer for IPRONA, an Italian company that produces standardized berry extracts for medicinal uses. His work has appeared widely in both consumer and professional health trade publications internationally. His most recent book is “Inflammation: A Closer Look at What Drug Companies Do Not Want You to Know,” about a drug-free approach to managing arthritis and other inflammatory disorders. Follow him on twitter @theberryroom.

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4 Comments

  1. May 24, 2015 at 1:11 pm — Reply

    You must be very cautious about the different ways to lower cholesterol, establishing a goal for yourself. You must consult with your doctor, since this will give you a specific objective to reduce your cholesterol. Your objective could be any specific value or reduction percentage during a specific period of time. In any event, having a goal will help you work out your cholesterol issues. Every adult should find a way to reduce their cholesterol levels and have values inferior to 200 mg/ dl.

    • May 27, 2015 at 1:37 pm — Reply

      Thanks for your input Annie. I hope people will begin to realise just how dangerous high LDL-Cholesterol levels are.

  2. May 27, 2015 at 4:15 am — Reply

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    • May 27, 2015 at 2:03 pm — Reply

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