Elderberries have long been used in folk medicine. Recent scientific studies are now shedding light on their potential to balance blood sugar levels, making them a promising natural wellness tool. This article delves into the scientific findings on elderberries’ effects on blood sugar and overall metabolic health, based on peer-reviewed journal articles.

Understanding Elderberries and Blood Sugar

Elderberries are rich in bioactive compounds, including polyphenols and flavonoids, which have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and immunomodulatory properties. These compounds play a crucial role in modulating blood sugar levels and improving insulin sensitivity. Let’s explore the key studies that highlight these effects.

Key Scientific Studies on Elderberries and Blood Sugar

 

1. Immune System Disorders in Diabetes Mellitus

A 2015 study published in Pharmaceutical Biology investigated the effects of Sambucus nigra and Aronia melanocarpa extracts on immune system disorders in diabetes mellitus. Researchers used a mouse model of diabetes and observed dose-dependent cytokine production. The findings showed that elderberry administration increased baseline cytokine production (TNF and interferon-γ) in diabetic mice, indicating an anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory effect. This was further validated by stimulating peripheral blood mononuclear cells from humans with elderberry, which showed similar cytokine responses . 

 

2. Oxidative Stress and Insulin Resistance

In a 2019 study published in Foods, researchers evaluated the impact of elderberry fruit extract on oxidative stress, insulin resistance, and inflammation in mouse cell lines. The study found that elderberry extract decreased leptin levels and increased adiponectin levels in a dose-dependent manner, positively impacting insulin resistance. Additionally, elderberry reduced levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines like TNF, IL6, COX2, and iNOS .

 

3. Hyperglycemia in Diabetic Rats

A 2016 study in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences focused on the effects of polar and lipophilic extracts of Sambucus nigra in a diabetic rat model. The study found that polar extracts corrected hyperglycemia, while lipophilic extracts lowered insulin secretion. However, the study noted limitations due to unclear statistical presentations and small sample sizes .

 

4. Clinical Symptoms in Type 1 Diabetes

A 2021 study published in Cell Journal used a mouse model of Type 1 Diabetes to test the effects of Sambucus ebulus extract. The study showed significant reductions in fasting blood sugar and inflammatory markers (IFNγ and IL-17) with a 400 mg/kg dose, demonstrating a clear dose-response effect and substantial improvements in blood sugar levels .

 

5. Glucose Uptake in Liver Cells

A 2017 study in Molecules examined the effects of Nordic berry extracts, including elderberry, on glucose uptake in human liver cells. The study demonstrated a dose-dependent increase in glucose uptake, particularly with quercetin, one of the compounds found in elderberries. This suggests that elderberries can enhance glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity .

 

6. Insulin-like and Insulin-releasing Actions

A 2020 study in the Journal of Nutrition examined the insulin-like and insulin-releasing actions of elder flowers from Sambucus nigra. The study showed that elder flower extract directly stimulates glucose metabolism and promotes insulin secretion, demonstrating a dose-dependent effect .

 

7. Neuropathic Pain in Diabetic Mice

A 2015 study in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine evaluated the effects of Sambucus nigra extracts on neuropathic pain in a diabetic mouse model. The study found a significant reduction in blood glucose levels and maintained these lower levels for eight days after treatment, suggesting a potent ameliorative effect of elderberry extracts .

 

8. Effects of Gold Nanoparticles and Elderberry Extract

A 2017 study in Colloids and Surfaces B: Biointerfaces investigated the combined effects of gold nanoparticles and elderberry extract on diabetic rats. While the study did not observe statistically significant differences with elderberry extract treatment alone, it suggested potential benefits when combined with other treatments .

 

9. Post-Prandial Blood Glucose and Insulin Responses

A 2020 randomized controlled trial in Nutrition and Metabolism compared multiple plant extracts, including elderberry, on post-prandial blood glucose and insulin responses in healthy adults. The study found a significant difference in post-prandial insulin levels after elderberry extract consumption, demonstrating its potential benefits for glucose regulation .

 

10. PPAR-γ Activation

A 2012 study in Plant Foods for Human Nutrition examined the effects of elderberry extract on PPAR-γ activation in diabetic mice. The study found a significant effect on PPAR-γ in vitro but did not observe a glucose-lowering effect in vivo, suggesting the need for further research .

 

11. Dyslipidemia and Insulin Resistance

A 2021 study in Biomedicine and Pharmacotherapy examined the effects of a lignan-rich fraction from Sambucus williamsii on dyslipidemia and insulin resistance in ovariectomized rats. The study found that elderberry extracts prevented impairment of glucose tolerance and insulin action, highlighting their potential benefits in metabolic health .

 

Practical Implications for Blood Sugar Management

The studies highlighted above provide compelling evidence that elderberries may play a significant role in managing blood sugar levels. Their anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and insulin-sensitizing properties make them a promising natural wellness for a variety of metabolic health needs. Incorporating elderberries into your diet, whether through supplements, juices, or recipes, can potentially help balance blood sugar levels and improve overall metabolic health.

 

References

  1. Effects of Sambucus nigra and Aronia melanocarpa extracts on immune system disorders within diabetes mellitus. Pharmaceutical Biology (2015). Link
  2. Elderberry (Sambucus nigra L.) Fruit Extract Alleviates Oxidative Stress, Insulin Resistance, and Inflammation in Hypertrophied 3T3-L1 Adipocytes and Activated RAW 264.7 Macrophages. Foods (2019). Link
  3. Effect of Elderberry (Sambucus nigra L.) Extract Supplementation in STZ-Induced Diabetic Rats Fed with a High-Fat Diet. International Journal of Molecular Sciences (2016). Link
  4. Methanolic Extract of Sambucus ebulus Ameliorates Clinical Symptoms in Experimental Type 1 Diabetes through Anti-Inflammatory and Immunomodulatory Actions. Cell Journal (2021). Link
  5. Enhanced Glucose Uptake in Human Liver Cells and Inhibition of Carbohydrate Hydrolyzing Enzymes by Nordic Berry Extracts. Molecules (2017). Link
  6. The traditional plant treatment, Sambucus nigra (elder), exhibits insulin-like and insulin-releasing actions in vitro. Journal of Nutrition (2020). Link
  7. Acute and subchronic in-vivo effects of Ferula hermonis L. and Sambucus nigra L. and their potential active isolates in a diabetic mouse model of neuropathic pain. BMC Complementary Alternative Medicine (2015). Link
  8. The effect of Sambucus nigra L. extract and phytosinthesized gold nanoparticles on diabetic rats. Colloids and Surfaces B: Biointerfaces (2017). Link
  9. The effect of 8 plant extracts and combinations on post-prandial blood glucose and insulin responses in healthy adults: a randomized controlled trial. Nutrition and Metabolism (2020). Link
  10. Plant extracts of winter savory, purple coneflower, buckwheat and black elder activate PPAR-γ in COS-1 cells but do not lower blood glucose in Db/db mice in vivo. Plant Foods for Human Nutrition (2012). Link
  11. The lignan-rich fraction from Sambucus Williamsii Hance ameliorates dyslipidemia and insulin resistance and modulates gut microbiota composition in ovariectomized rats. Biomedicine and Pharmacotherapy (2021). Link

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