I’m sure you’ve seen all the elderberry syrups, extracts, and lozenges at the grocery stores. But nearby, the shelves are stocked with echinacea + vitamin C products: tablets, extracts, and teas. Are they both for the same thing? Which is better: Echinacea or Elderberry for cold and flu symptoms?
Echinacea for onset of symptoms
Echinacea purpurea, or Purple Coneflower, is a perennial prairie plant. People often include it when they create their native gardens. Herbalists sometimes use other species of Echinacea, which have only slightly different amounts of the medicinal constituents. Herbalists use all parts of the plant. Echinacea has the following effects on the body:
- activates the immune system to engulf invading germs,
- stimulates wound healing,
- and helps white blood cells move around the body faster.
This plant also scavenges for free radicals and contains powerful anti-oxidant properties. Because most of the actions of Echinacea help to mobilize the body, use it when you just start feeling sick.
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My favorite echinacea winter remedies are:
- Feel Better Fast: This remedy is safe for small children and contains both echinacea and elder.
- Immune-Biotic: This remedy also has both echinacea and elder, but unlike Feel Better Fast, includes calendula and dandelion.
- Echinacea Extract: This organic extract contains both purpurea and angustifolia species.
- Stay Well Organic Loose Tea: Contains echinacea purpurea, lemon balm, olive, elder, lemon balm, lemon, ginger, and goldenseal. Excellent tea!
- Cold Weather Organic Extract: Contains a lot of the same herbs as the tea, just in extract form.
Elder ever after
Sambucus nigra, or Black Elderberry (commonly called Elder), is a small bush that bears small white flowers that mature into dark purplish berries. It grows widely all over the United States and Europe. Herbalists make remedies from the berries, herb, and flower. People historically used Elder as a general health tonic and food since it contains large amounts of antioxidants and vitamin C. People make wine, pie, lemonade, and jam from it, in addition to the medicinal syrups and lozenges. Also, recent scientific studies have shown it prevents viruses from multiplying themselves. Elder is also effective at improving communication between the different aspects of your immune system.
My favorite Elder remedies:
- Elder Berry Extract: just want elder berry? This organic extract is just the thing!
- Elderberry Elixir This remedy contains elderberries, astragalus, cloves, ginger, and mullein. Comes in kids’ formula and adult formula. The kids’ formula contains calendula and orange peel instead of astragalus, cloves, and ginger.
- Elderberry Syrup: slippery elm, yarrow, lemon balm, propolis, peppermint, and tart cherry.
- Sniffle Tea: This organic tea not only contains elder, but also peppermint, raspberry leaf, ginger, yarrow, and hyssop.
- Elderberry/Zinc Lozenges: These help with sore throats due to post-nasal drip.
So which is better: Echinacea or Elderberry for cold and flu symptoms?
Both of them are helpful. They both have antioxidant properties and they both affect the immune system. But, if I had to choose just one, I would choose Elder. The antioxidant levels in Elderberry are higher and more comprehensive. This herb contains several different types of antioxidants and vitamin C, whereas Echinacea contains only a handful of different antioxidants. Elder can be used as a tonic and eaten regularly, but Echinacea cannot. If you are trying to avoid getting the flu this winter, Elder is a great addition to your wellness plan and is generally safe for children. And, most importantly, it tastes good!