An in vitro study has also shown Sambucol to be effective in increasing the production of four inflammatory cytokines, suggesting that the supplement may have an immuno-stimulatory effect and therefore be worth taking all year round to prevent flu and other disease.
Why is this a concern for bird flu?
This is, actually, very good for most colds and flu. Cytokines are an immune system booster – particularly for inflammation. However, Bird Flu is a little different situation than most other flu. Once established, it targets the lungs.
The normal immune response includes inflammation for most situations. This is usually good because it provides more blood, white blood cells and nutrients to help fight and eliminate the bad guys. Unfortunately, this is NOT what you want in the lungs. Inflammation in the lungs congests the lung tissue and restricts its ability to get oxygen into the blood. It can block the lungs!
There is an answer that will allow the tremendous virus fighting ability of Sambucol to work, while reducing the inflammation effect.
First, the studies
Sambucol has been documented to decrease the duration and severity of illness in common seasonal influenza, and with its known mechanism of action of decreasing viral replication, intuitively appears a good choice for treating other influenza strains, including H5N1.
Studies reported to date on H5N1 indicate that severe illness and death (potentially due to ARDS) is related to high viral load. Elderberry reduces viral load in seasonal influenza. It also has some antioxidant capabilities that may protect tissues affected by cytokine damage.
However, elderberry also increases cytokine production. One specific concern with H5N1 infections is the possibility that this strain of flu may induce cytokine storm, leading to ARDS and the high mortality associated with it. It is unknown if the increased circulating cytokines that elderberry and other alternative medicines induce could increase a victims risk of cytokine storm.
Medical science does not currently know the exact mechanism that triggers cytokine storm. We cannot say if increased cytokine levels before or during infection is a risk factor for ARDS or an effect of some other mechanism that begins the inflammatory cascade that results in it. High cytokine levels are documented to be associated with ARDS, but causation is unknown.
Due to its documented ability to increase cytokine levels, the use of elderberry preparations for avian influenza has created controversy in the online flu communities. Like all other interventions presented here, it is unknown if elderberry will be beneficial in H5N1 infections or if there is potential harm from its use.
If contemplating using the extract and the subject is in the target range for a cytokine storm or A.R.D.S., it may be inappropriate to use the extract. Or, one could add an anti-inflammatory herb or substance to the regimen along with other antivirals in the hope that this will neutralize excess TNF-a and pro-inflammatory cytokines in addition to reducing viral load.
In more common wording, it might be very wise to add anti-inflammatory nutrients to Sambucal. This is especially true when the onset of the flu has become established.
It seems that preventative daily use of a little Sambucal during flu season doesn’t require anti-inflammatories. The Sambucal will tend to prevent the flu virus from settling into the lungs in the first place. The same principle would seem to apply if a person takes a strong amount of Sambucal at the first sign of flu symptoms – for the same reason.
It becomes more important to add the anti-inflammatories when the flu has become more established in your system. This is especially true if it is a respiratory centered flu like bird or swine flu.