Elderberry Uses, Dosage, and Interactions

Elderberries are typically used to treat colds, flu, and other infections. However, they can also be used for prevention.

Elderberry is a powerful herb that benefits the body in many ways. It can help with high blood pressure, allergies, and inflammation. However, it has some side effects and interactions that should be considered before taking it.


If you’re looking for a natural treatment with a lengthy history of medical usage, look no further. A prehistoric person may have grown the elderberry shrub, according to research. There are also recipes going back to Ancient Egypt for elderberry-based medicines.

Most historians, however, credit Hippocrates, the ancient Greek regarded as the “father of medicine,” with describing the plant as his “medicine chest” because of the broad range of health problems it appeared to treat. So whether we’re talking about troglodytes, ancient Egyptians, or ancient Greeks, this natural medicine has a long history, which is why it’s considered one of the world’s best antiviral herbs.

The elder plant has been shown to help with nasal problems, nerve discomfort, inflammation, chronic tiredness, allergies, constipation, and even cancer. The extract may also help alleviate and reduce the duration of cold and flu symptoms when taken during the first 48 hours after the start of symptoms. As a result, during the 1995 Panama flu pandemic, the government used elderberry to combat the virus.

What Is Elderberry?

Sambucus is a flowering plant genus in the Adoxaceae family. Sambucus species are often referred to as elderberry or elder. The elder plant’s berries and blossoms are used as medicine.

Elderberry is a plant native to Europe, Africa, and parts of Asia, but it has recently become popular in the United States. It features deciduous leaves, white elderflowers, and ripe berries that change color from green to crimson to black. Elder is a plant that may be found in woods and hedgerows.

The most frequent variation used for therapeutic reasons and the species on which the bulk of scientific study has been done is Sambucus nigra. It’s a deciduous tree with cream-white blooms and blue-black berries that grows to 32 feet tall. Sambucus nigra is also known as black elder, European elderberry, and European black elderberry. The berries of the elderberry shrub or tree are frequently utilized in syrups, jams, wine, and various medicinal and gastronomic pleasures.

There are many more kinds of elderberry than black elderberry. The following are a few of the most common:

  • Elderberry, black lace
  • Red Elderberry
  • Elderberry Adams
  • Elderberry with lemon lace
  • Elderberry, Black Beauty
  • Blue Elderberry
  • Elderberry from York

European elder blossoms have around 0.3 percent essential oil, made up of free fatty acids and alkanes. Alpha- and beta-amyrin triterpenes, ursolic acid, oleanolic acid, betulin, betulinic acid, and several other minor components have all been discovered. In addition, quercetin, kaempferol, rutin, and phenolic acids are all found in elderberry fruit. It also includes flavonoids, antioxidants that may help protect cells from harm, and anthocyanidins, which are chemical substances with immune-boosting effects.

The uncooked berries are 80% water, 18% carbs, and less than 1% protein and fat, respectively. As a result, vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin B6, iron, and potassium, among other essential elements, are abundant in elderberries.

Health Advantages and Applications

1. Relieves the symptoms of a cold or the flu

The strong immune-boosting effects of elderberry syrup are one of the most well-studied elderberry syrup advantages. Anthocyanidins are chemical substances found in berries that have been shown to have immunostimulant properties.

According to research, elderberry extract is a safe, effective, and cost-effective therapy for cold and flu symptoms.

Elderberry supplementation reduced the length and symptoms of colds among air passengers, according to a 2016 research published in Nutrients. Travelers who used this herb from 10 days before departure until four to five days after arriving in a foreign country reported a two-day decrease in the length of their colds and a significant reduction in cold symptoms.

Several studies have also shown the advantages of using elderberry syrup to treat flu symptoms. This is because the flavonoids in the extract specifically bind to the H1N1 human influenza virus and the H5N1 avian influenza virus.

Patients were divided into two groups in a 2009 research. One group got four doses of 175 mg unique elderberry extract for two days, while the other received a placebo. Most flu symptoms improved significantly in the extract group, while the placebo group exhibited no change in symptom severity. Thus, the extract helps reduce influenza symptoms, according to the researchers.

Another research published in the Journal of International Medical Research found that taking the extract within 48 hours after the start of flu symptoms may cut the length of the illness by four days on average.

2. Sinus Infection Symptoms are Reduced

With its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant qualities, it’s no surprise that elderberry may assist with sinus problems. A sinus infection occurs when the cavities surrounding the nasal passages become inflamed, and this antiviral herb has promise as a natural sinus infection treatment.

The usage of a product called Sinupret, which includes elderberry extract, was investigated in a research performed by the Institute of Complementary Medicine’s Department of Internal Medicine at the University Hospital in Zurich, Switzerland. Sinupret was used in conjunction with an antibiotic (doxycycline or Vibramycin) and a decongestant to treat bacterial sinusitis. Surprisingly, individuals who took the combo performed better than those who did not take Sinupret at all.

3. Helps to Lower Blood Sugar

Both the elderflower and the berries have been used to treat diabetes in the past. In addition, elderflower preparations have been shown to increase glucose metabolism and insulin production, which may assist decrease blood sugar levels.

The insulin-like and insulin-releasing effects of black elderberry were studied in vitro in a study published in the Journal of Nutrition. According to the research, without any additional insulin, an aqueous extract of elder substantially enhanced glucose transport, glucose oxidation, and glycogenesis. Glycogenesis is when excess sugar is removed from the circulation and stored in the muscles and liver to help keep blood sugar levels in check.

Elderberries may also serve as a possible source of bioactive chemicals for diabetic formulations, according to a 2017 animal research published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences. Both lipophilic and polar extracts of the berry were shown to reduce insulin resistance in rats with type 2 diabetes.

4. Functions as a Diuretic

A diuretic is a drug that increases urine output. When the body retains too much fluid, a frequent issue in older people, doctors prescribe diuretics. Elderberry has been proven to stimulate urine and bowel movements to help guard against fluid retention because of its capacity to serve as a natural diuretic.

5. Encourages consistency

According to some studies, elderberry tea may assist with constipation, regularity, and digestive health. In a small randomized study, researchers discovered that combining elderberries and many other plants may be used as a natural laxative to treat constipation.

However, there are presently no trials testing elderberry for constipation treatment, indicating that further study is required.

6. Promotes the health of the skin

Elderberry has become popular in cosmetics, and for a good reason. Its bioflavonoids, antioxidants, and vitamin A concentration make it excellent for skin health. Furthermore, experts believe that a chemical contained in the berry may provide a natural boost to the skin.

Elderberry contains anthocyanin, a kind of natural plant pigment that has been proven to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. Some researchers believe that this chemical may help improve the structure and condition of the skin, thus improving general skin health.

7. Assists with Allergies

The blossoms of the elder plant are also recognized to be an excellent herbal allergy treatment, in addition to utilizing elderberry syrup for colds. Because an immune system overreaction and inflammation characterize allergies, the herb’s potential to enhance immune function and reduce inflammation may aid in allergy relief.

Some herbalists consider black elder blossom one of the most effective herbs for treating hay fever-like symptoms. It may be used alone or in conjunction with other herbs and natural treatments to treat allergies.

8. Has the Potential to Fight Cancer

Elderberry extract, for example, is high in anthocyanins and has been proven to have a wide range of medicinal, pharmacologic, and anti-carcinogenic effects. In addition, in vitro studies have shown that the elderberry contains specific chemopreventive characteristics, which may help prevent, postpone, or reverse the development of cancer.

The anticancer effects of European and American elderberry fruits were evaluated in research published in the Journal of Medicinal Food. European elderberry (Sambucus nigra) is a medicinal plant that includes anthocyanins, flavonoids, and other polyphenolics, all of which contribute to the berries’ antioxidant solid activity. American elderberry (Sambucus Canadensis) has not been cultivated or marketed as a medicinal plant, unlike its European cousin.

The anticancer potential of both berries was evaluated in this research, and both were shown to have substantial chemopreventive potential. Additionally, the American elder extract inhibited ornithine decarboxylase, an enzyme marker linked to cancer development at the promotion stage. As a result, elderberries have the potential to be cancer-fighting foods.

9. It has the potential to improve heart health

Although research on elderberry extract has shown conflicting findings, some evidence indicates that it may benefit heart health. Giving mice with high cholesterol and HDL cholesterol dysfunction anthocyanin-rich black elderberry extract, for example, helped lower hepatic cholesterol levels and enhance HDL function in one animal study. This may be because anthocyanins, which are polyphenols with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, are present.

Elderberry extract may help those with high blood pressure, according to another research. Polyphenols isolated from the plant were lower arterial pressure in rats with hypertension when given renin inhibitors. According to researchers, polyphenols may help decrease blood pressure while also reducing the adverse effects of blood pressure medicines and improving the overall quality of life.


Do you know where to get elderberry and how to include it in your diet? It may be found in several forms at many local health shops and internet merchants. Elderberry candy, elderberry wine, and elderberry juice are all popular ways to consume this amazing nutrient.

Elderberry syrup is extremely popular for colds, flu, and upper respiratory problems. There are numerous high-quality brands available for purchase, or you may look up how to create elderberry syrup online to try making it yourself. The majority of elderberry syrup recipes call for boiling elderberries with a bit of water and various additional medicinal herbs for 45 to an hour.

Another excellent alternative is elderberry tea, mainly if you take elderberry for flu and cold symptoms. Teabags or dried berries or flowers may be purchased and made into a tea by mixing one spoonful of berries or flowers with eight ounces of water. To boost the taste and health benefits, try adding honey, lemon, cinnamon, or mint.

Not a fan of black elderberry syrup or hot teas? The elderberry juice, which is sweet, tangy, and refreshing, is another option. Just make sure it doesn’t have too much sugar added to it.

Side Effects and Potential Risks

Despite the many health advantages of this medicinal plant, there are several elderberry adverse effects to consider. Most Sambucus species produce edible ripe, cooked berries. Raw berries and other parts of the plant, on the other hand, should not be consumed since they contain a cyanide-inducing compound that may cause diarrhea and vomiting. When taken at appropriate doses, commercial medicines seldom produce side effects.

When taken correctly for short periods, up to five days, elderberry seems to have minimal adverse effects. However, elderflowers and elderberries may, on rare occasions, produce allergic responses. If you have a moderate adverse reaction, stop using it immediately, and if you have a severe allergic reaction, get medical help.

Elderberry syrup for children should only be used after consulting with your doctor. If you’re pregnant or nursing, avoid it since data on its effects on fetal health and development is limited.

Ask your doctor before taking elderberry if you have an autoimmune illness like rheumatoid arthritis since it may activate your immune system. Before taking it, see your health care practitioner if you have any other ongoing health problems. Elderberry should not be consumed by those who have had organ transplants.

Drug Interactions

Elderberry may interact with many medicines due to its strong health effects. Before taking an elderberry supplement or any other elder plant products, see your doctor if you are presently on any of the following medications:

  • Medication for diabetes
  • Diuretics are a kind of diuretic that helps (water pills)
  • Chemotherapy
  • Immunosuppressants, such as corticosteroids (prednisone) and medicines used to treat autoimmune disorders are examples of immunosuppressants.
  • Laxatives
  • Theophylline is a kind of theophylline (TheoDur)

Last Thoughts

  • Elderberry is a plant grown for its medicinal qualities and can cure a wide range of ailments.
  • What are the advantages of using elderberry? Cold and flu symptoms, as well as allergies and sinus infections, may be relieved by it. It may also serve as a natural diuretic and help reduce blood sugar, enhance heart health, and maintain good skin.
  • This plant is sold as syrup, juice, and tea. It’s available at a variety of health food shops or may be prepared at home.
  • What are the elderberry’s side effects? Although commercially prepared elderberries are usually safe to consume, raw elderberries may induce nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting.
  • Women who are pregnant or nursing, children, or people with autoimmune diseases should avoid using this antiviral plant.
  • Is there a connection between elderberry and medications? Consult your doctor before beginning supplements if you’re on chemotherapy or using diabetic medicines, diuretics, immunosuppressants, laxatives, or other drugs.

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The information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration or any other medical body. We do not aim to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease. Information is shared for educational purposes only. You must consult your doctor before acting on any content on this website, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition.


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