Flu Fighter: Elderberry Boosts Immune and Battles the Flu Symptoms

Looking for ways to fight the flu? With cold and flu season still in full swing, elderberry is one option.

Elderberry contains concentrated amounts of vitamin C, flavinoids, fruit acids, and anthocyanic pigments. Elderberries contain more vitamin C than any other herbs except rosehips and black currant. Elderberr yalso outranks blueberries, cranberries, goji berries, and blackberries in terms of total flavonol content. Flavonoids have antioxidant properties and may help prevent damage to the body’s cells.

Recent studies have also indicated that elderberry may have antiviral activity, increasing its value as a preventative measure.

Flu Fighting

The Herbal Information Center reports elderberry has remarkable value in fighting flu and similar viruses. One study suggested that the elderberry extract called Sambucol could shorten flu duration by up to three days.

An additional benefit of elderberry is its ability to help break fevers. It promotes profuse sweating. These properties help make elderberry valuable as an “after the fact” supplement to speed the healing process.

How Elderberry is Used

For health care, elderberry is available as a liquid, syrup, and tincture It can also be found in capsule and lozenge forms.

Raw berries should not be eaten.

Cautions for Using Elderberry

Viewed as an immune booster, elderberry should be avoided by those with autoimmune diseases. These include MS, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis as well as others. Taking elderberry could increase symptoms of those diseases.

Always consultant with your health care provider before taking any supplements and if you have any health concerns or illnesses.

Historical Notes

elderberry flower flu fighter


Elderberry is a common, shrubby tree, produces creamy flowers in early summer, followed by deep wine-colored berries in the fall. Native Americans used the flower water for eye and skin lotions. The berries were common additives for jams, pies, teas, and later wines. Elderberry wine was quite common in Colonial America. The elderberry was nick-named the “country medicine chest” because of its varied uses.

Evening Primrose Oil: Providing Rich Source of GLAs

Evening Primrose Oil is a natural, and the richest, source of Gamma-Linolenic acid. It contains about 72% Linoleic acid and 9 percent GLA. Since it contains the essential GLA, evening primrose oil is highly valuable to those who cannot otherwise form enough GLA. This would include those who do not get enough essential fatty acids in their diet, drink or have drunk excessive amounts of alcohol, have low thyroid function, or have received radiation treatment. The direct source of GLA takes the pressure off the body to produce the necessary amount of GLA for optimum health.

Preliminary studies in Sweden are relating Evening Primrose Oil to an anti-oxidant in that it also counter acts the formation of free radicals. Free radicals are most often associated with the aging process. Maintaining health is just one of the benefits of Evening Primrose Oil. It is also being studied extensively in England and Europe for its pain reduction in association with arthritis, controlling complications of diabetes, controlling liver and kidney damage due to alcohol, depression, Multiple sclerosis, skin/hair/nail repair, and most impressively, controlling sever symptoms of PMS.

A study at St. Thomas Hospital in London found that when PMS suffers were given evening primrose oil three times daily, 67% of the participants were symptom-free and 22% achieved partial relief. (In all total, 89% had positive results with the evening primrose oil.)

Although not as popular in the United States, Evening Primrose Oil is available at most health food stores and nutrition centers. And, as more studies become available, we will find why Evening Primrose Oil was commonly called the “King’s Cure All” in 17th Century England.

Essentail Fatty Acids: For the Active Lifestyle

Fatty acids, essential fatty acids, polyunsaturated fatty acids, Linoleic acid (LA), Gamma-Linolenic Acid (GLA) and prostaglandins. If these “buzz” words leave your head swimming you’re not alone. After the Food & Agriculture Organization and World Health Organization released a joint report addressing the role of dietary fats and oils in nutrition, much attention has been given the role these play in our health. The study recommended that at least 3% of our daily calorie intake should be in the form of these “essential fatty acids” (EFA), 5% for children and pregnant/lactating mothers.

What are essential fatty acids and what makes them so essential? EFA’s play important roles in our body‘s overall health. They are part of every cell and establish and control the cellular metabolism.

EFA’s are essential in four primary body functions:

  1. provide energy
  2. maintain body temperature
  3. insulate our nerves
  4. cushion and protect body tissues

Two key polyunsaturated fatty acids (EFA’s) are Linoleic acid and Gamma-Linolenic acid. LA is not produced by the body but must be obtained through the dietary intake. LA acts as an energy source and is what the body converts to GLA which in turn forms other substances such as prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are hormone-like substances that are found in every body cell. They are critical to the body’s overall health maintenance, but need to be replenished constantly as once they serve their purpose, they are destroyed.

The purposes of Prostaglandins include lowering blood pressure, reducing risks of blood clotting, stimulating the immune system, and regulating brain function. Animal studies at the University of Pennsylvania have also shown them to prevent arthritis. This is also being studied in humans trials in Europe with similar results. The source of EFA’s in these studies has been Evening Primrose Oil.

It was once believed that our diet would provide enough EFA’s but due to processing methods, the LA’s structure is changed ( then called trans fatty acids). These fatty acids actually block the normal conversion process. Our western lifestyle–too much saturated fat and cholesterol, processed vegetable oils, and alcohol–also inhibits the normal conversion processes. These blockages become even more dramatic with age, low thyroid function, slower metabolism, infections, disease, and dietary considerations such as zinc deficiency.

Ear Candling: Cleaning a Lifetime of Debris

Though centuries old, the ancient technique of ear candling or ear coning has seen increasing interest in the past decade in the holistic community. Thought to have originated with the Egyptians, it was used for spiritual cleansing as well as physical cleaning.It was believed to open and clear the spirit centers and refresh the auras.

Original style coning by the Egyptians utilized hollow reeds. Today, coning/candling uses a hollow candle, much like a large straw. Although they differ, most candles are made of 100% unbleached cotton (muslin) fabric coated with purified paraffins and/or bees’ wax. There are also some specialty candles which contain herbs and essential oils.

Those that utilize candling believe it applies simple laws of science. The flame of the candle (when the candle is properly seated in the ear) creates a draw or vacuum which pulls the wax, fungus, candida, yeast, and other particles of debris out of the ear and up into the bottom of the candle. The vacuum is caused by the warmed air from the flame and the colder existing air moving through the hollow chamber of the candle.

ear candlingmovement and compression between the ear canal and the candle chamber generate air flow with increasing velocity, thus producing the “sucking” vacuum. As the particles are drawn from the ear and into the bottom of the candle, the air flow becomes disrupted. This is why it is important to remove the candle and “tap out” the contents.

Why candle?
The purpose of candling is to remove wax buildup, especially the heavy impacted wax that normal cleaning cannot remove. Candling is a more comfortable and less expensive alternative to the traditional cleaning method of forcing water into the ear canal.

Candling is also believed to remove candida, yeasts, fungus, and remnants of past infections. The Ear, Nose and Throat Journal of U of U Medical lab reported that the types of bacteria we currently fight in our ears include Streptococcus pneumonia, Staphylococcus aureus, Anaerobic bacteria, and Influenza A and B.

Candling can be done on persons of any age.  Inner ear infection is one of the top reasons for hospital admittance in children. Holistically, candling has been used as a last effort for treating chronic ear infections and to avoid ear tubal placement. As well as focusing on the ear, candling is believed to work on the sinus and lymph system, removing impurities there as well.

Other benefits claimed by those using candling are:

  • an improved sense of balance
  • keener sense of smell
  • an over-all improved feeling of well-being

A lifetime of residues build up in the ear canal! Because of all the intricate crevices in the ear, unbelievable amounts of debris can accumulate. This buildup creates a breeding ground for problems and can also interfere with correct hearing. Impacted wax can build up against ear ducts and can also block reception of incoming sound waves. This lifetime accumulation may explain some of the hearing problems we develop as we age. It is reported that 20% of adults between 65-74 have hearing problems.

It is important to discuss candling with your health practitioner and always use common sense. Candling is not a replacement for proper health care, but can be an effective home remedy. Candling should not be done on a person who has a perforated eardrum or similar problems.

How is ear candling done?

Candling is quite simple and is done with a partner. Generally, three candles are used in each ear. This varies from person to person as does the frequency of candling. Read and follow the specific instructions which come with your candles.

The basic procedure is to have the person whose ears are being candled to lay on his/her side or to place their head sideways on a table. Be sure they are comfortable, as candling can take 15-20 minutes per candle, depending on the type of candle. The “candlee” should place the small tapered end of the candle snugly into the ear. (The candle may be inserted through a paper plate covered with aluminum foil to protect the face and hair.) The candle must fit snugly to allow proper air draw. As the bottom fills, gently tap it out in a bowl and carefully cut back the burned wick. The “suction” sounds much like the gentle hum one hears when a seashell is placed against the ear.

After candling, it is recommended to gently rinse the ears and place a couple of drops of oil of garlic into the ear. The normal wax will be replaced within 24 hours. For the first 24 hours after candling, it is best to protect the ears from wind, cold, and excessive amounts of water. Within 24 hours the normal production of wax will again protect the ear.

CAUTION: Ear candles are a home remedy and should not take the place of medical treatment. They make no medical claims. They are not a medical device or take the place of any medical device.

SAD – Seasonal Affective Disorder: Walk Away the Blues

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), formerly called Seasonal Depression, affects between 10 million and 25 million Americans according to Dr. Norman Rosenthal, National Institute of Mental Health.

The likelihood that one will suffer from SAD increases:

  • the further one goes North
  • women are four times more likely to experience SAD than men
  •  the age group 20 to 40 is most vulnerable

SAD is still undergoing a great deal of research. The exact cause is not known nor are its treatments well defined. Researchers, such as Dr. Rosenthal, are studying the link between lack of sunlight and the affects on melatonin, seratonin and other hormones as well as the lack of sunlight and its affect on the body’s circadian rhythms.

Current treatments are exploring the effect of light therapy and antidepressants on SAD. However, all treatment plans include exercise. In some cases, exercise may help to prevent or manage SAD.

Physiologically, exercise stimulates the brain to release hormones called endorphins, normally credited for suppressing sensations of pain and producing a sense of well-being. Endorphin production usually begins about 15 to 20 minutes into an exercise session and peaks after about 45 minutes. Repetitious movements, such as walking, running and cycling, also increase levels of serotonin.

Researchers at Indiana University found a significant decrease in depression for at least 2 hours after moderate exercise. “You can reap the calming benefits of exercise without running yourself ragged,” says Jack Raglin, Ph.D., an associate professor of kinesiology.

The most recommended form of exercise for depression and SAD is simply walking. Most beneficial to those with SAD is walking outdoors.