In February 2020, I wrote two articles for Technical Politics about the possible role of black elderberry (sambucus nigra) in the management of COVID-19 symptoms.1 2

Since writing those articles, I had mild symptoms of COVID-19, though whether that was indeed the cause will need to be verified by testing. I would call them attenuated symptoms, which I attribute to regularly taking black elderberry. My initial thought was to wait three weeks before writing about my experiences, but given the speed at which the pandemic is developing, I have decided to write after two weeks of being symptom-free.

I will give some details of my COVID-19 symptoms to illustrate why I feel they are attenuated symptoms. The most convincing evidence that it was COVID-19 was that all the symptoms were alien, I’d never had those types of headaches, never had a dry cough, never before had a headache with nausea. My friend – who had it quite severely recently, and was in bed for ten days – made the same comment. She felt it was like an alien visiting.

Symptoms Experienced
10 March 2020 Severe headache for 12 hours, sneezing
12 to 20 March 2020 Intermittent dry cough, felt well in myself
30 March and 4 April 2020 Headache with mild nausea for 4 hours
8 and 9 April 2020 Slight headache for 1.5 days no nausea
Two weeks to present Free of symptoms

My case is noteworthy because I am immunocompromised due to a chronic medical condition, and because I am 70 years old. Other family members who live next door and chose not to take black elderberry had three weeks of dry coughing and feeling generally unwell around the same time.

I feel more strongly than ever now that it is essential that black elderberry be added to the list of medicines on which controlled trials are conducted for the treatment of COVID-19 symptoms.

There are three ways in which black elderberry could possibly be deployed as part of a controlled trial:

  1. It could be given to people when they first develop symptoms to see whether it reduces the severity and/or the length of their illness.
  2. A sampling of frontline health workers could take black elderberry continuously to ascertain whether it is effective in reducing viral load.
  3. Immunocompromised people who have already had symptoms could take black elderberry continuously to see if it reduces relapse and reinfection.

It’s worth noting that the costs and risks associated with conducting these trials would be significantly lower than for other target remedies.

This is not a widely researched area, and there are important questions to be asked about the degree of immunity that develops if you get attenuated symptoms and what the long term affects from taking black elderberry are.

Having had to manage a chronic medical condition now for 20 years, I know the value that there is in getting guidance and help from medical professionals, but ultimately we should all, in collaboration with medical professionals, be active in taking responsibility for our own health.

I am convinced that black elderberry has had a positive impact in my own case, and would strongly back medical science putting this natural remedy to the test.

Jane Graham Reed is a retired science and health education teacher with psychological research experience. She is now training as a CBT therapist and does project work around mindfulness, well-being, meditation and mental health.

Article Licence: CC BY-ND 4.0



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