The two products are Sambucol and Sambucus. Both claim to be "original". As far as I can tell, Sambucol is really the original and Nature's Way Sambucus is a reformulation after a licensing disagreement over the original. Since Nature's Way also has a "Sambucus Immune Syrup" which adds to the Sambucus Syrup vitamin C, zinc, echinacea angustifolia (root), echinacea purpurea (flower) and propolis, it's possible that they are using "Original" in a sneaky way, meaning "stolen idea" and "improved upon stolen idea". But I'm not sure that matters.
What Is It?Sambucus Nigra is Black Elderberry. An Algerian-born Isreali virologist named Dr. Madeleine Mumcuoglu did research on the effectiveness of fresh whole Elderberry juice. Some of the research is at http://www.blackelderberry.info. The clinical study results were pretty conclusive; following these, Dr. Mumcuoglu founded Jerusalem company Razei Bar to produce and sell the syrup; Sambucol is apparently the same formula.
Is There A Formula?It's not clear. The research and summaries imply that the creation of the Elderberry extract is important. It is not, at any rate, "standardized" extract, but rather is made from the entire berries. And Sambucol is apparently made that way, while Sambucus is made from "standardized extracts"... which means processed and chemically extracted. Without specific studies demonstrating that they know which "BioActives" are providing the effect, it's hard to imagine that they know their process gets the right ones and doesn't damage them.
According to the Isreal 21C newsletter, the 100% natural Sambucol contains a potent antiviral compound, AntiVirin as well as a high amount of three flavonoids, naturally occurring plant antioxidants. The Nature's Way site (Sambucus) doesn't make any mention of it.
On the other hand, Razei Bar attempted to trademark AntiVirin in 1997; it was opposed and cancelled in 2001. See Trademark Serial Number 75326230, Registration Number 2508312. In Isreal, it is trademark 113461. (Yes, I even looked that up!) So Sambucus couldn't claim AntiVirin even if it were chemically identical.
Sambucol has the website address incorrect on their box.
|Taste||Sweet and slightly astringent||Thicker, has a purple taste.|
Claimed from 6.4g berries
Probably not technically accurate, considering the dose is only 10ml == 10 grams at water-mass
According to the Sales Team Manager, each bottle has the "fresh juice" from about 1000 elderberries. (That's about 43 berries per dose.)
|"Standardized Elderberry Bioactives"
Standardized extracts are seldom of the entire fruit, and typically are extracted using chemicals. (They also typically have a 10% effectiveness rate - you need chemical extract from ten times more cranberries, for example, to get the same impact of eating or drinking them.
Google of "standardized Bio-Certified" without Elderberry returns five (5) results, a strong sign that the term is flim-flam.
|"The proprietary elderberry extract that was used in published clinical studies"|
This is the juice from the entire berry, extracted without chemicals.
|Website FAQ Quality||None. They have several FAQ links, each of which states, "There are no frequently asked questions available for this product", with an email link.||High. On the order of 25 useful questions, such as interactions, safety with various conditions, historical usage and why it works.|
SummaryI started this to see if my perception, that Sambucol was more effective than Sambucus, had any merit. This was important for me because Sambucus is easier to find; the always-extravagantly-priced GNC chain carries it. My goal was to use the more effective formula if it makes a difference, and otherwise to be able to nip down to GNC when needed.
What I believe I have found is:
- Sambucol is the original tested formula; there is no cited research on Sambucus at all, beyond assuming it is similar to Sambucol.
- They use different mechanisms for creating the Elderberry extract, so similarity of end-results should not be assumed.
- Both products may be engaging in some misdirection:
- Sambucol research touts AntiVirin, but locked the term under trademark; Sambucus could be identical and still not able to use the term.
- Sambucus has no apparently supporting research for their "standardized Bio-Active extract" nor for their syrup, but claim to be "virologist tested."
- Sambucus touts "original formula", but given the ingredients list, it is clearly not the original Sambucol formula; it's just an original syrup formula.
In the end, I've decided to use Sambucol when I can, and Sambucus when Sambucol is not readily available. Of course, you may know something I don't, in which case please email me and I will update this page.