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Concept: Sambucus


Intercontinental air travel can be stressful, especially for respiratory health. Elderberries have been used traditionally, and in some observational and clinical studies, as supportive agents against the common cold and influenza. This randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial of 312 economy class passengers travelling from Australia to an overseas destination aimed to investigate if a standardised membrane filtered elderberry (Sambucus nigra L.) extract has beneficial effects on physical, especially respiratory, and mental health. Cold episodes, cold duration and symptoms were noted in a daily diary and assessed using the Jackson score. Participants also completed three surveys containing questions regarding upper respiratory symptoms (WURSS-21) and quality of life (SF-12) at baseline, just before travel and at 4-days after travel. Most cold episodes occurred in the placebo group (17 vs. 12), however the difference was not significant (p = 0.4). Placebo group participants had a significantly longer duration of cold episode days (117 vs. 57, p = 0.02) and the average symptom score over these days was also significantly higher (583 vs. 247, p = 0.05). These data suggest a significant reduction of cold duration and severity in air travelers. More research is warranted to confirm this effect and to evaluate elderberry’s physical and mental health benefits.

Concepts: Clinical trial, Influenza, Placebo, Fatigue, Upper respiratory tract infection, Common cold, Sambucus, Sambucus nigra


Black elder (Sambucus nigra L.) has a long ethnobotanical history across many disparate cultures as a treatment for viral infection and is currently one of the most-used medicinal plants worldwide. Until recently, however, substantial scientific research concerning its antiviral properties has been lacking. Here, we evaluate the state of current scientific research concerning the use of elderberry extract and related products as antivirals, particularly in the treatment of influenza, as well as their safety and health impacts as dietary supplements. While the extent of black elder’s antiviral effects are not well known, antiviral and antimicrobial properties have been demonstrated in these extracts, and the safety of black elder is reflected by the United States Food and Drug Administration approval as generally recognized as safe. A deficit of studies comparing these S. nigra products and standard antiviral medications makes informed and detailed recommendations for use of S. nigra extracts in medical applications currently impractical. Copyright © 2017 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Concepts: Immune system, Virus, United States, Antiviral drug, Medicinal plants, Sambucus, Adoxaceae, Sambucus nigra


Sambucus (Adoxaceae) species have been used for both food and medicine purposes. Among these, Sambucus nigra L. (black elder), Sambucus ebulus L. (dwarf elder), and Sambucus sieboldiana L. are the most relevant species studied. Their use has been somewhat restricted due to the presence of bioactive proteins or/and low molecular weight compounds whose ingestion could trigger deleterious effects. Over the last few years, the chemical and pharmacological characteristics of Sambucus species have been investigated. Among the proteins present in Sambucus species both type 1, and type 2 ribosome-inactivating proteins (RIPs), and hololectins have been reported. The biological role played by these proteins remains unknown, although they are conjectured to be involved in defending plants against insect predators and viruses. These proteins might have an important impact on the nutritional characteristics and food safety of elderberries. Type 2 RIPs are able to interact with gut cells of insects and mammals triggering a number of specific and mostly unknown cell signals in the gut mucosa that could significantly affect animal physiology. In this paper, we describe all known RIPs that have been isolated to date from Sambucus species, and comment on their antiviral and entomotoxic effects, as well as their potential uses.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Biology, Organism, Sambucus, Adoxaceae, Sambucus nigra, Sambucus racemosa


ABSTRACT An evidence-based systematic review of elderberry and elderflower (Sambucus nigra) by the Natural Standard Research Collaboration consolidates the safety and efficacy data available in the scientific literature using a validated, reproducible grading rationale. This article includes written and statistical analysis of clinical trials, plus a compilation of expert opinion, folkloric precedent, history, pharmacology, kinetics/dynamics, interactions, adverse effects, toxicology, and dosing.

Concepts: Scientific method, Pharmacology, Statistics, The Canon of Medicine, Science, Sambucus, Adoxaceae, Sambucus nigra


Freshly released pollen of black elderberry (Sambucus nigra L.) was incubated under various culture conditions until germination was achieved. Optimal conditions for germination were determined and used for maturation of unicellular microspores in vitro. Staining with 5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide, propidium iodide and iodine potassium iodide was used to assess pollen viability, nuclear phase and maturation, respectively. The germination rate was highest when fresh pollen was agitated at 40 rpm in Petri dishes containing a liquid medium consisting of Brewbaker and Kwack salts, 15% (w/v) sucrose, 500 mg/l MES sodium salt, at pH 5.0; germination reached nearly 70% after only 1 h in culture. Under these conditions, and with addition of 200 mg/l glutamine, 260 mg/l cytidine and 500 mg/l uridine, uninucleate microspores developed into mature pollen at a 12% germination rate. Our report is the first demonstration of maturation of S. nigra microspores in vitro.

Concepts: Water, Sodium chloride, Potassium, Pollen, Potassium iodide, Sambucus, Adoxaceae, Sambucus nigra


The ability to rapidly identify and quantitate, over a wide range of concentrations, anthocyanins in food and therapeutic products is important to ensuring their presence at medicinally-significant levels. Sensitive, yet mild, analysis conditions are required given their susceptibility to degradation and transformation. Paper spray ionization has been used to detect and quantify the levels of anthocyanin levels in extracts of fresh and dried elderberries, and elderberry stems, as well as three commercially available nutraceutical formulations. The component cyanidin glucosides, including cyanidin-3-sambubioside, cyanidin-3-glucoside, cyanidin-3,5-diglucoside, cyanidin-3-sambubioside-5-glucoside and the aglycone cyanidin were readily detected in a range of sources. Quantitation was achieved by establishing a calibration plot from dilutions of a stock solution of cyanidin-3,5-diglucoside containing malvidin-3,5-diglucoside as an internal standard at a fixed concentration. The same standard was used to quantify the anthocyanin content in the fruit and nutraceutical formulations. Wide 5-fold variations in anthocyanin concentration were detected in the nutraceutical formulations from different suppliers ranging from 1050 to 5430 mg/100g. These concentrations compared with 500 to 2370 mg/100g measured in the dried stems and fruit respectively.

Concepts: Mass spectrometry, Concentration, Chemistry, Analytical chemistry, Solution, Food science, Raspberry, Sambucus


The volatile terpenic and norisoprenoids profile from elderflowers (Sambucus nigra L.) was established for two cultivars by multidimensional gas chromatography. From 47 monoterpenic, 13 sesquiterpenes and 5 norisoprenoids components, 38 are reported for the first time on elderflowers. Elderflower seasonality implies proper handling and storage conditions, for further processing, thus the impact of freezing, freeze-drying, air drying and vacuum packing, was evaluated on these potential aroma metabolites. The most suitable preservation methods, regarding the total metabolites content, were vacuum packing and freezing for intermediary storage times (24-32weeks) with a reported overall decrease of the volatile terpenic and norisoprenoids of up to 58.6%; and freezing, for longer period (52weeks), with a decrease of up to 47.4% (compared to fresh elderflowers). This study presents the most detailed terpenic and norisoprenoids elderflower profiling, and linalool oxides were proposed as markers for a more expedite assess to the impact of postharvest conditions.

Concepts: Chromatography, Drying, Food preservation, Vacuum, Periodicity, Sambucus, Adoxaceae, Sambucus nigra


The leaves of Sambucus ebulus L. (Adoxaceae) are widely used in Turkish folk medicine particularly against inflammatory disorders. The fresh leaves after wilted over fire or the poultices prepared are directly applied externally to heal burns, edema, eczema, urticarial and abscess. Two iridoids were recently isolated (sambulin A, sambulin B) from the leaves of S. ebulus.

Concepts: Inflammation, In vitro, Sambucus


The cultivation of American elderberry (Sambucus nigra subsp. canadensis) continues to increase as the use of this botanical has expanded. It is well understood that elderberries contain a variety of polyphenols, including anthocyanins, which have purported health benefits. However, information is lacking regarding the impact of environmental, management, and genotypic factors on the quantity and type of polyphenols and anthocyanins produced. Quantification of eight polyphenols and eight anthocyanins present in juice from three genotypes of American elderberry grown at two Missouri sites from 2013-2014 was performed. Large variances in polyphenol and anthocyanin content were observed between the different harvest seasons, locations and genotypes. Although specific phytochemical trends due to those factors were not apparent, a discriminant analysis was able to correctly identify 45 of 48 juice samples by genotype, based on their polyphenol profiles. This type of characterization could be beneficial in elderberry authentication studies and to help develop and document high-quality dietary supplement products with specific phytochemical contents.

Concepts: Genetics, Genotype, Biology, Dietary supplement, Polyphenol antioxidant, Sambucus, Adoxaceae, Sambucus nigra


In Europe, both the fruits and flowers of Sambucus nigra L. have been used against cold, as well as laxative, diaphoretic, and diuretic remedies. There are also a number of commercially available food products that contain elderberry juice, puréed or dried elderberries. Recent comprehensive literature data on pharmacology and chemistry of Sambuci fructus have encouraged us to screen extracts with different polarities from this plant material against cancer cell lines. The cytotoxic activity of the ethyl acetate and aqueous acetone extracts from elderberries as well as detected triterpenoids on human colon adenocarcinoma cell line (LoVo) and human breast cancer cell line (MCF-7) was investigated by sulforhodamine B assay. Moreover, cell migration assay was conducted for triterpenoid fraction and pure compounds. Aqueous acetone extract possessed much lower IC50 value in cancer cell lines compared to ethyl acetate extract. The latter manifested high cytotoxicity against studied cell lines, suggesting that nonpolar compounds are responsible for the cytotoxic activity. Indeed, the phytochemical analysis revealed that ursolic and oleanolic acids are the main triterpenoids in the mentioned extract of which ursolic acid showed the highest activity with IC50 values of 10.7 µg/mL on MCF-7 and 7.7 µg/mL on LoVo cells.

Concepts: Cell, Cancer, Breast cancer, Chemotherapy, Cell culture, Sambucus, Adoxaceae, Sambucus nigra