Cascara and Immunity

Cascara may have similar immune-boosting effects as Elderberry


With the recent emergence of COVID 19, people continue to look for ways to protect themselves against this and future viruses by boosting their immune system.  The topic of immune-boosting is on the rise. Google Trends shows a 566% increase in the keyword search “immunity” between March of 2019 and 2020. Following the trend and turning to natural remedies in the plant kingdom for help, sales of immune-boosting supplements, such as Black Elderberry Extract, shot up 415% by the end of March 2020 in the United States, more than Vitamin C and Zinc supplements 1, two popular choices for immune defense.


Black Elderberry and Polyphenols

Black elder (Sambucus nigra L.) fruit is written about as early as the 5th century BCE by naturalists, healers, and philosophers of Ancient Greece and Rome; Hippocrates, Dioscorides, and Plinius2 discussing its various health-related attributes. Hippocrates referred to the elder tree as his “medicine chest.”3 More recently, research has shown Elderberry extracts have the ability to shorten the length of certain influenza infections,3–5 which has heightened the interest around possible immune-boosting and protective functions against Covid 19, although no specific research or indications exists yet showing its efficacy against the virus.

Scientists attribute elderberry’s anti-viral effects to a variety of bioactive polyphenols present in the fruit. Polyphenols are compounds produced by plants for protection against pests and disease. Some of these compounds, anthocyanins, for example, are pigments and give the Elderberry its dark purple color. Elderberry’s polyphenol makeup includes anthocyanins, flavonols, phenolic acids, and proanthocyanidins.


Cascara and Polyphenols

Cascara is also rich in some of the same phenolic compounds as Elderberry, although with different dominant compounds and concentrations.  Cascara also contains anthocyanins, proanthocyanidins, phenolic acids such as CGA and protocatechuic acid, and some flavonols. Analyses of the Total Polyphenol Contents (TPC) of Elderberry and Cascara, shows similar values6,7 supporting the need for future research into cascara and its potential health benefits from its polyphenol contents.

According to a recent study published in the Journal of Immunology Research, Ding et al. reported: “polyphenols can not only regulate the host immune system but also directly target the pathogen.” 8

At Caskai, we recommend an everyday diet rich in polyphenols from fruits and vegetables to support health and immunity. But today's lifestyles don't always support regular healthy eating habits. We created Caskai’s new product, Cold Brew Cascara, with this in mind. Caskai Cold Brew Cascara uses 5X more upcycled Premium Sun-dried Cascara™ than the Sparkling Infusions product line introduced in 2017 and has significant amounts of polyphenols present in each can along with natural energy benefits.

Caskai, in the interest of health and nutrition, continues to explore the polyphenol contents of cascara commissioning further polyphenol research in cascara and its potential positive effects on health. 



  1. O’Connor A. Supplements for Coronavirus Probably Won’t Help, and May Harm. The New York Times. Published March 23, 2020. Accessed August 27, 2020.
  2. Salamon I, Grulova D. Elderberry (Sambucus nigra): from Natural Medicine in Ancient Times to Protection against Witches in the. Acta Hortic. 2015;(1061). doi:10.17660/ActaHortic.2015.1061.2
  3. Krawitz C, Mraheil MA, Stein M, et al. Inhibitory activity of a standardized elderberry liquid extract against clinically-relevant human respiratory bacterial pathogens and influenza A and B viruses. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2011;11:16.
  4. Zakay-Rones Z, Thom E, Wollan T, Wadstein J. Randomized study of the efficacy and safety of oral elderberry extract in the treatment of influenza A and B virus infections. J Int Med Res. 2004;32(2):132-140.
  5. Torabian G, Valtchev P, Adil Q, Dehghani F. Anti-influenza activity of elderberry (Sambucus nigra). J Funct Foods. 2019;54:353-360.
  6. Viapiana A, Wesolowski M. The Phenolic Contents and Antioxidant Activities of Infusions of Sambucus nigra L. Plant Foods Hum Nutr. 2017;72(1):82-87.
  7. Jelderks J. Application for the Authorization of Coffee Husk (Cascara) from Coffea Arabica L. as a Novel Food Ingredient for Use in Non-Alcoholic, Water-Based, Beverage Infusions. Panama Varietals GmbH; Feburary 26, 2020.
  8. Ding S, Jiang H, Fang J. Regulation of Immune Function by Polyphenols. J Immunol Res. 2018;2018:1264074.