Moving Forward, Working Together, and Raising the Bar
This fall, we are all pretty much moving on with our lives, although if we’re honest, some of us may feel like survivors from a movie where an asteroid has hit the planet. The events of this year have impacted some more than others, and I hope humans can pull together like a team to support one another. Most of us want to get on with things, but we wish to feel safe, too.
A lot of people are talking about reinvention. Moving forward better than before does sound more exciting than just going back to how things were. At Flora, we are always looking to the future, and we hope you’ll join us. No matter what is going on ‘out there’ or what kind of viruses are floating around, we can be considerate and positive as we keep ourselves and others safe and healthy.
Immune System Balance and Modulation
It is certainly a great time to optimize our health and to get clear on how the immune system works. Although we often refer to ‘boosting’ the immune system, imagine optimized immunity less like a volume knob cranked all the way up, and more like frequencies equalized or modulated for balance and harmony. A good analogy from sports or business would be the immune system as a team that needs to have perfectly coordinated elements for optimum efficiency.
Immune systems, like teams or orchestras, operate at their full potential when sections communicate well together, with no area unsupported. A weakness in one area can keep a team or an immune system from success. In the case of the immune system, an array of cell types must be in a specific ratio to one another for the system to function in a coordinated, synergistic fashion.
Like us, our immune systems suffer when over-stressed. Immune imbalances can arise from poor nutrition, chronic inflammation or infections, or the wrong kinds of stress. Immune system modulation can help restore healthy ratios of immune cells. It involves the coordination of helpful microbes with the system to more effectively respond to and destroy unhelpful microbes. That’s why immune modulation teamed with immune support has a stronger chance of leading the immune team to success.
Why Elderberry, Echinacea, and Licorice?
Elderberry+ is a delicious and comprehensive liquid immune formula from Flora. It features a base of European black elderberry juice enhanced with Echinacea purpurea extract and some licorice root. The three herbs work together on a deep level to enhance and modulate immune health, prevent infections, attack invading infections, and stop infections from spreading.
Elderberry & echinacea are an example of healthier choices – they have been shown to be as effective as the leading flu drug, without the adverse events associated with that drug. Together with licorice, they have been shown to ease initial symptoms like sore throat and fatigue, reduce symptom duration and severity of seasonal illness if infected.*
The ingredients work synergistically to support the immune system. Like a strong team, they interfere with seasonal viruses so they cannot easily take root and spread, and they reduce the overall severity and duration of infections.* The blend has no added sugar because the last thing the immune system needs is sugar – that would act as stress!
Are These Plants Really That Helpful?
Science is proving that plants like elderberry and echinacea are truly powerful against viruses, and in many cases, safer than other alternatives. A meta-analysis that studied the effects of elderberry concluded that it could reduce the symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections, and other studies have concluded that elderberry could reduce cold severity and duration.*
Another study published in Current Therapeutic Research recruited 473 patients in the beginning stages of the flu and divided them into groups – one receiving an echinacea-elderberry formulation, and the other, the gold standard pharmaceutical treatment for influenza, a neuraminidase inhibitor. The folks getting echinacea and elderberry fared slightly better than the drug group, with none of the adverse events.
How it Works – Herbal Teamwork Helps You Stay Healthy.
Echinacea purpurea works preventatively by stimulating the body’s innate immune response. This helps to reduce the chance of catching a cold or flu. Echinacea and licorice can have a direct effect against infections of the upper respiratory tract, inhibiting influenza and rhinoviruses, and certain coronavirus strains. Both elderberry and echinacea have been trialed in airline passengers and shown to reduce our chances of catching colds and other respiratory illnesses.*
If some invading viruses do get through the first line of defense and into our bloodstream, compounds in elderberry can act as blockers or guards. Phenolic acids, flavonoids, catechins, and proanthocyanidins have been reported to increase specific influenza-neutralizing antibodies in serum. Elderberry flushes the body while increasing secretory IgA levels, which can be effective against A, B, and H1N1 variants of influenza. The anthocyanins bind to any un-neutralized viruses and team up with licorice to reduce or prevent them from adhering or attaching to cells.
Even if the viruses do attach, elderberry strengthens our cell membranes to make it really tough for viruses to penetrate, while echinacea inhibits the hyaluronidase that some pathogens use to breakthrough. Finally, if you do get a mild case of something, elderberry can slow viral replication. Then echinacea helps to repair tissue and cells damaged by infection and reverses excess mucus, and licorice acts as a soothing expectorant to mobilize stubborn mucus from airways and relieve sore throats and coughs.*
Are Cytokines an Issue?
Luckily, no. Despite lots of retweeting of a theory that elderberry might increase cytokine production too much, there is no evidence that it does. The truth is elderberry does increase cytokines, as that is one way it ‘boosts’ immunity. But elderberry also has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which are modulating. That is why, although a research paper from Israeli scientists showed cytokine stimulation when elderberry syrup was added to blood cells, the study never mentions this creating a dangerous cytokine storm.
In fact, journalists who consulted with several doctors and medical researchers (see this WUSA report) in order to clear this up concluded that elderberry is safe. Luckily, even if there was a concern about stimulating too many cytokines, we know that this synergistic formula would be extra safe since licorice modulates immune response to prevent overactivity of proinflammatory cytokines, and echinacea reverses excess inflammatory cytokine response as well. Go, team!
Excellence and Inclusivity
It’s clear that elderberry teamed up with echinacea and licorice is an effective, powerful combo. But the excellence of the Elderberry+ formula lies in the details! We all want a formula with no added sugar, and most of us prefer it organic and non-GMO because we know it is so important to our health to have the cleanest, best quality products, especially when we feel run down. This certified organic formula ticks the boxes, but excellent doesn’t have to mean exclusive. Flora makes this formula vegan friendly, gluten-free, and free from added excipients, so it is safe even for sensitive folks with neurological or intestinal problems who might not tolerate colour, emulsifiers, or thickeners.
The quality of the manufacturing is also paramount. Most elderberry products talk about how much elderberry juice they contain, but black elderberries are not often organic, and they vary in their density of nutritional compounds. Flora’s Elderberry+ is not only packed with organic elderberry; it is standardized for compounds like flavonoids that are recognized for their ability to produce the magic we are after. Add in the complementary herbs extracted on-site by Flora, and we have an excellent combination.
Have a safe season
I know it sounds corny, but I hope people will work together like the herbs in Flora’s Elderberry+ formula. Let’s be inclusive, clean, and safe, and support one another. I hope we can get things done better than they have been done before.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
Robert Dadd is a Master Herbalist (Dominion Herbal College) with a BA in Communications from Simon Fraser University. His areas of research include adaptogens, probiotics, and essential fatty acids. He is currently the Product Information Supervisor for Flora Manufacturing and Distributing.