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Elderberries: Natural alternative to fight the flu and common cold

It's an option before grabbing the popular over-the-counter drugs.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich — There are many remedies to fight the common cold or flu. Many people swear by drinking whiskey, or warm tea with honey at the first sign of a stuffy nose. 

But some holistic professionals believe a lot of ailments can be solved in a natural way, including elderberries.

"We only have one [liquid elderberry bottle] left on the shelf because obviously now is the time for people to be using it," said Dr. Carrie Dennie with Grand Rapids Natural Health

Dennie is a naturopathic doctor, specializing in health and wellness by using natural methods.

"I think that more natural therapies, in general, are becoming more popular," Dr. Dennie said. "It's not hocus pocus at all."

Which is probably while elderberries are a product many have been using for centuries. 

"It's well studied and it was actually used a long time ago. The Native Americans used it for the cold and flu and also for skin issues, too," Dennie said.

It comes in all different forms. Stores like Harvest Health Foods carry a wide variety of elderberry products. 

"It's best used when you feel something coming on immediately, so whether that be a tickle in your throat or sore muscles, go ahead and take the elderberry syrup, they also have lozenges and I believe capsules too," Dennie said.

It's an option before heading for the popular over-the-counter drugs. 

"[In general], things like the cold, flu and infections are very easy to treat as long as you catch them early on, so why not start with a natural option first and if you've caught it and it resolves, great. And then if not, you can move on up to higher force therapies," Dennie said.

Elderberry can be used to treat inflammation, upper respiratory infections and other kinds of ailments with minimal if any side effects.

"The reason why I am a naturopathic doctor and have embraced natural therapies is because they are more gentle. A lot of times the prescription alternatives may have more side effects and some people want to avoid that," Dennie said.

Many health food stores carry Elderberry products, like lozenges, tinctures and teas. It works best if taken at the first sign of feeling sick. If your illness doesn't subside, reduce or if it gets worse, talk to your doctor. 

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