There are those "miracle" ingredients that seem to come out of nowhere, claiming to cure-all before either being debunked or just fading away with the ebb and flow of the trend tide. But occasionally, a buzzy superfood comes along that not only has the science but also the history to back it up. Elderberry is a perfect example, and if it's not on your radar already, it's about to be.
While it's just starting to appear as a skincare ingredient, thanks to free-radical-fighting antioxidants and moisturizing properties, elderberry has been a health remedy for centuries: basically one of the earliest versions of cough syrup. In addition to fighting respiratory symptoms, it's also an immunity booster that helps prevent them in the first place.
This all bodes well for us as we head into the season of colds and dry skin, no? Keep reading to see specifically how to include elderberry in your routine.
"Elderberries have been used in folk medicine for hundreds of years throughout Europe, North Africa, and parts China," says Keri Glassman, registered dietician and founder of Nutritious Life. "The special combo of polyphenols found in elderberries is what gives them their immunity-boosting power. Research has shown that these compounds can help treat colds and flus by helping the body fight viruses and bacteria. It was even shown to bind to the H1N1 virus so that it was unable to penetrate and infect cells, stopping the infection in its tracks. In one study, flu patients who took an elderberry extract had reduced symptoms three to four days earlier than those who had taken a placebo."
Needless to say, many natural wellness enthusiasts rely on elderberry to keep their immune systems humming along nicely—including Amanda Chantal Bacon, founder of Moon Juice in Los Angeles, who stocks an elderberry tonic in her shop to prevent and fight colds. "It also makes a great lip stain," she adds.
"Elderberries are packed with antioxidants, especially anthocyanins, which gives them their dark rich color," says Glassman. "These compounds have been shown to reduce inflammation, lower blood pressure, and even help fight cancer, in addition to stimulating the immune system."
In addition to speeding the healing process, this natural version of cough syrup can help soothe a sore throat.
"We use elderberry oil because it contains high levels of essential fatty acids and is a natural source of antioxidants, helping to fend off harmful free-radicals that may cause premature aging," says Noella Gabriel, managing director and co-founder of Elemis skincare. And the complexion benefits aren't just reaped topically. "Consuming real foods chock-full of antioxidants helps fuel our body to fight free radicals," adds Glassman. "Elderberries are an especially good way to get anthocyanins, a type of antioxidant linked to prettier skin."
Fighting free radicals isn't the only way this superfood encourages younger-looking skin. "It also helps to nourish the skin and protect its natural moisture barrier," says Gabriel. "It has been shown to improve skin smoothness, firmness, and elasticity."
Making us look and feel better sounds like superfood material to us. What do you think? Have you tried elderberry in any capacity before? Sound off below.