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Author Topic: Could elderberry be bad for your liver?  (Read 2503 times)

Offline thedoc

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Could elderberry be bad for your liver?
« on: 10/03/2016 19:50:01 »
Elise bekele asked the Naked Scientists:

We are huge fans in our house-hold. I also listen to Kat Arney's Naked Genetics. You guys are fantastic!!!
 
This morning's news brought something disturbing to us here in Western Australia: Liver damage from herbal supplements. This was mainly to do with green tea extracts and other compounds that folks take for various health benefits (but probably in excessive amounts).

This news got me thinking (worrying!) about something we take OTC called Sambucol TM or Elderberry (Sambucus nigra). Is there any cause for concern, especially giving this to children?

The product information doesn't mention dosages for school age children. We take it at the first sign of colds and it seems to work (or possibly it's a placebo effect).

Either way, I'd love to hear your advice about whether it could be possibly harmful to the liver and why (or if) it's proven to help with colds.

Thank you and all the best to you lovely folks!! I listen to repeats of your programmes every night on my IPod.

What do you think?
« Last Edit: 14/03/2016 23:15:32 by chris »


 

Offline syhprum

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Re: Could elderberry be bad for your liver?
« Reply #1 on: 10/03/2016 21:41:26 »
Elderberry juice is defiantly toxic I once drank a bottle of homemade elderberry wine that a customer gave me and I was ill for two days.
 

Offline exothermic

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Re: Could elderberry be bad for your liver?
« Reply #2 on: 12/03/2016 22:16:05 »
Quote from: Elise
Sambucol TM or Elderberry (Sambucus nigra). Is there any cause for concern, especially giving this to children? The product information doesn't mention dosages for school age children.

The literature suggests that Sambucol is safe for children. The dosing protocols are as follows:

Sambucol® syrup is a proprietary formula containing 38% black elder berry extract (2:1). The children’s product is a proprietary formula containing 19% black elder berry extract.

Children's therapeutic dose: 1 teaspoon x4/day

Children's maintenance dose: 1 teaspoon/day


Quote from: Elise
We take it at the first sign of colds and it seems to work (or possibly it's a placebo effect). Either way, I'd love to hear your advice about whether it could be possibly harmful to the liver and why (or if) it's proven to help with colds.

Sambucol and/or elderberry extract does show some degree of clinical efficacy in reducing the duration and severity of viral infections such as influenza and the common cold.

In terms of hepatotoxicity, there's no clinical data that I'm aware of that suggests a standardized Sambucol nigra elderberry extract is harmful to the liver.

Here's a good link to start with:   http://cms.herbalgram.org/press/files/elderberry-scr.pdf
 

Offline exothermic

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Re: Could elderberry be bad for your liver?
« Reply #3 on: 12/03/2016 22:40:27 »
Elderberry juice is defiantly toxic I once drank a bottle of homemade elderberry wine that a customer gave me and I was ill for two days.

That's because you ingested a mixture that contained either leaves, bark or roots. This results in toxicity due the coingestion of hydrocyanic acid, ambucine and/or cyanogenic glycosides.
 

Offline Bored chemist

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Re: Could elderberry be bad for your liver?
« Reply #4 on: 13/03/2016 16:31:23 »
Elderberry juice is defiantly toxic I once drank a bottle of homemade elderberry wine that a customer gave me and I was ill for two days.

That's because you ingested a mixture that contained either leaves, bark or roots. This results in toxicity due the coingestion of hydrocyanic acid, ambucine and/or cyanogenic glycosides.
There are two problems with that explanation.
Cyanide is rapidly removed from the body- so it wouldn't explain two days' illness.
You seem to have overlooked the effect of what might have been about a hundred ml of ethanol.
 

Offline exothermic

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Re: Could elderberry be bad for your liver?
« Reply #5 on: 14/03/2016 17:23:15 »
Quote from: Bored chemist
Cyanide is rapidly removed from the body

What are the elimination kinetics for orally-derived cyanogenic glycosides/cyanohydrins in humans?

 
Quote from: Bored chemist
it wouldn't explain two days' illness.

Neither does the ethanol by itself. So the ethanol likely added insult to injury, but it wasn't the underlying cause.
 

Offline exothermic

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Re: Could elderberry be bad for your liver?
« Reply #6 on: 14/03/2016 18:50:24 »
so it wouldn't explain two days' illness.

Well it was enough to land this guy in the ER overnight:

Centers for Disease control (CDC).
Poisoning from elderberry juice-California.
MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 1984;33(13):173-174.

http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/00000311.htm
 

Offline Bored chemist

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Re: Could elderberry be bad for your liver?
« Reply #7 on: 14/03/2016 23:07:25 »
How many were in the ER that night with alcohol intoxication?
A large part of a hangover is due to other things apart from alcohol.
It's complicated
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3073063
Perhaps we should ask Syhprum about the symptoms, rather than guessing.
 

Offline exothermic

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Re: Could elderberry be bad for your liver?
« Reply #8 on: 15/03/2016 06:49:29 »
How many were in the ER that night with alcohol intoxication?

Alcohol didn't put the aforementioned patient in the ER overnight. If you consume enough cyanoglycosides.... the process of enzymatic degradation will yield hydrogen cyanide - thus resulting in symptoms of acute cyanide poisoning e.g. rapid pulse/respiration, drop in BP, headache, dizziness, confusion, vomiting, diarrhea,  and in more severe cases - cyanosis & convulsions.

 

Offline exothermic

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Re: Could elderberry be bad for your liver?
« Reply #9 on: 15/03/2016 06:59:22 »
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3073063

I think you are confused. You just cited a reference pertaining to the hydrolysis & degradation of cyanogenic disaccharides.... in plants.
 

Offline syhprum

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Re: Could elderberry be bad for your liver?
« Reply #10 on: 24/03/2016 15:13:34 »
The incident happened over 50 years ago so I cannot recall actual details, the first day I was confined to my bed apart from diarrhea quite unable to work, on the second day I unwisely drove into work but was unable to do any.
One bottle of good quality wine would not have produced any ill effects the next day so alcohol was not the cause.
 

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Re: Could elderberry be bad for your liver?
« Reply #10 on: 24/03/2016 15:13:34 »

 

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