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Herbal Therapies Used by People Living With HIV: Elder

Part of A Practical Guide to Herbal Therapies for People Living With HIV

2004

Elder
Elder (Sambucus nigra) is a bush with bluish berries that grows throughout Europe. The plant's bark is the most commonly used medicinal part, but its leaves, roots, berries and flowers may also have medicinal effects. Elder is primarily used to treat colds and other respiratory disorders.

Since at least one small study shows it improves flu symptoms, and given its traditional use against viral illnesses, some people living with HIV hope that it may also help limit the effects of HIV infection. Test-tube studies suggests that elder might slow the production of HIV, but little work specific to HIV has been done.

Elder may help you relax or even make you sleepy. It is usually prepared as a tea, although capsules are also available. Elder causes sweating (which is part of its medicinal effect) and may make you urinate more frequently. It may also act as a laxative. If diarrhea occurs, however, you should stop taking elder. Pregnant women may wish to avoid elder, because studies on mice given very high doses showed that the plant caused some fetal damage. Elder is considered safe for use as food flavouring in both Europe and North America.

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This article was provided by Canadian AIDS Treatment Information Exchange. Visit CATIE's Web site to find out more about their activities, publications and services.
 

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