Elderberry and COVID-19
With the Coronavirus pandemic affecting the entire world, there have been several questions regarding the potential for Elderberry, and possibly other immune-supporting herbs, causing or increasing the likelihood of cytokine release syndrome (CRS) or a cytokine storm.
In case your research hasn't yet led you there, I wanted to briefly explain CRS:
First of all, Cytokines are molecules that the immune system uses to communicate with itself to mobilize the healing response. They are responsible for the local communication between immune cells and tissues. CRS happens in the advanced stages of infection when there is already a significant amount of damage done to the body's tissues. The body kicks into high gear, sending messages to mobilize the healing response and activate immune cells, but the influx of messages ends up activating too many immune cells, causing additional damage to the tissues.
CRS is certainly not something to take lightly, but there is also a lot to know about how's and why's and when to be concerned.
When there is a crisis--it never fails--the information is released that is based largely on opinion, and not scientific fact. The question is, what sources are legitimate, and what are not?
As those articles and ideas are shared, especially on social media platforms, I've seen many colleagues in our industry respond by releasing statements to address the growing number of questions. As a scientist myself, I have had formal training on best research practices and have the knowledge to know where to look for these legitimate resources.
Reading their statements, along with doing my own research, leads me to the same conclusion: There is little-to-no evidence supporting the claim that Elderberry or any other herb, especially those with support the immune system, causes CRS to occur by itself or by their direct association.
I also know that sometimes reading the articles or performing one's own research is more effective than reading a "review". As such, I have decided to include links to the articles that discuss this very topic so that you, the consumer, can read the information for yourself. I also encourage you to do additional research and look to organizations that have access to experts in the medical, pharmacological, and scientific community. These organizations include, but are not limited to: The World Health Organization (WHO), U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), U.S. Department of Agriculture, The Center for Disease Control (CDC), Journal of Biochemistry, The Journal of Medical Chemistry, The American Chemical Society, The British Medical Journal, and The American Journal of Medicine.
Here are the articles that I reviewed, and I encourage everyone with concerns to read these articles, as well as look at each article's references. This will lead you to other articles which will give you even more information.
Barak V, Halperin T, and Kalickman I. The effect of Sambucol, a black elderberry-based, natural product, on the production of human cytokines: I. inflammatory cytokines. European Cytokine Network12, no. 2 (June 2001): 290-96.
The bottom line is this:
During these difficult times, it is very important to stem fear with fact!
If you, or anyone you know, have additional questions or concerns, please contact Mountain Meadow Herb and we would love the opportunity to help.
Please stay safe!
This article is not intended for the purpose of providing medical advice. All information, content, and material found in this article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to serve as a substitute for the consultation, diagnosis, and/or medical treatment of a qualified physician or healthcare provider.