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Elderberry Benefits, Side Effects, Dosage and Warning

What is Elderberry?

Elderberries are the dark purple fruit of the elderberry shrub. A rich source of antioxidants known as anthocyanins, it is reputed by some to be effective in treating the common cold, flu, constipation, hay fever, and sinus infections. Others contend that it may be useful in treating toothache, sciatica, and burns, among other things, but some of these claims are better supported by research than others.

The European elder (black elderberry, Sambucus nigra) is the species most often used in supplements, although other elder species also produce anthocyanin-rich berries. There are several elderberry supplement options and preparations, such as gummies, lozenges, syrups, teas, and more.

How Elderberry works?

The elderberry contains certain compounds and substances that might have a beneficial impact on health.

Uses of Elderberry

1. Fights the flu with Elderberry

While elderberry may not prevent the flu, it may be an effective treatment option if you got hit with the virus. Research shows the use of elderberry could shorten the duration of flu by about three to four days, along with lessening symptom severity if taken within the first 24 hours of having the flu. When it comes to recommended dosages, WebMD suggests one tablespoon (15 milliliters) of a specific elderberry juice-containing syrup (Sambucol by Nature’s Way) has been taken four times daily for three to five days, while a specific lozenge (ViraBLOC by Herbal Science) containing 175 milligrams of elderberry extract has been taken four times daily for two days.

2. Reduces cold duration with Elderberry

Along with being a supportive agent against the flu, elderberry is well-known in its fight against the cold, particularly related to its vitamin A and C content. In fact, a 2016 research article published in Nutrients found a significant reduction of cold duration and severity in air travelers. Travelers using elderberry starting 10 days before travel until four to five days after arriving overseas experienced, on average, a two-day shorter duration of the cold and also noticed a reduction in cold symptoms.

3. Manages diabetes

The berry has been traditionally explored in its treatment of diabetes, with evidence published in the Journal of Nutrition demonstrating the presence of insulin-releasing and insulin-like activity in the proclaimed anti-diabetic plant, Sambucus nigra.

4. Promotes mental health

Extracts from an elder plant have shown to act as a natural antidepressant source. Though more research is still warranted in elderberry’s role in mental health, there is no denying pouring elderberry syrup atop a short stack is sure to crack a smile…


5. Acts as a natural diuretic

Diuretics increase the amount of water and salt expelled from the body in the form of urine and are mostly used to treat high blood pressure. There has been some indication elderberry offers diuretic properties, along with acting as a laxative in the treatment against constipation.

6. Supports skin health

Elderberries have shown to support skin health thanks to its anthocyanin content, or the compound that gifts berries’ vibrant color. Anthocyanins have shown to combat the internal consequences of natural aging, therefore improving the external appearance of skin tone and glow. It is also a rich source of vitamins A and C, each showing to moisture the skin and maintains its integrity.

7. Reduces inflammation

Elderberry displays numerous anti-inflammatory activities, particularly related to its anthocyanin and vitamins A and C contents. Inflammation has shown to be the root of many chronic diseases, which may label elderberry as a contender against the fight against cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.

Side effects of Elderberry

Elderberry is generally safe when taken as an extract. However, there may be some side effects, especially when  consumed raw.

-Unripe elderberries contain lectins; a type of molecule that can cause stomach discomfort eating raw berries may also lead to vomiting, diarrhea, and nausea. Many of these side effects can be avoided by cooking the berries, or by taking an extract form.

-If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, it is not recommended that you take elderberry. There is little research on the effects of the berry in these groups, so there could be an increased risk of side effects. If you still choose to consume elderberry while pregnant or breastfeeding, speak to your doctor beforehand.

-Elderberry may interact with some medication. However, it can interfere with certain drugs that are meant to reduce the activity of the immune system.

-Certain medical conditions, such as autoimmune disorders, are often treated with these drugs, as they prevent the immune system from attacking healthy tissue.

-It boosts the activity of the immune system, thus it can affect the activity of drugs that reduce the activity of the immune system. This can be quite dangerous if you have a serious autoimmune disorder.

-The plant contains substances called cyanogenic glycosides. This can release cyanide (a deadly toxin) in some circumstances.

-Elderberry can cause IBS like symptoms. Symptoms of eating uncooked berries, leaves, bark, or roots of the elderberry include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Dosage of Elderberry

Elderberry is used for a wide range of different medical conditions, with varying doses depending on the specifics of the condition.

When consumed as juice, one study gave participants 400 ml of elderberry to test its antioxidant properties.

A study that looked at the role of elderberry in treating influenza gave patients 15 ml of  syrup. Another study gave travelers who had the common cold 900 mg of extract per day, divided into 3 doses.

Elderberry is consumed in many different forms, including cooked berries, juice, syrup, extract, and lozenges, all of varying concentration. If you are taking elderberry, check the concentration before taking the supplement, and consult the dosage instructions provided by the supplier.

It may cause stomach discomfort for some people. If you have a sensitive stomach, start with a lower dose, and see how your body responds. If you don’t notice any side effects, slowly increase the amount until you reach the target dose.

Elderberry interaction with other drugs

If your doctor has directed you to use this medication, your doctor or pharmacist may already be aware of any possible drug interactions and may be monitoring you for them. Do not starts, stop, or change the dosage of any medicine before checking with your doctor, health care provider or pharmacist first.

Elderberry has no known severe, serious, or moderate interactions with other drugs.

Elderberry has mild interactions with at least 28 different drugs.

This information does not contain all possible interactions or adverse effects. Therefore, before using this product, tell your doctor or pharmacist of all the products you use. Keep a list of all your medications with you, and share this information with your doctor and pharmacist. Check with your health care professional or doctor for additional medical advice, or if you have health questions, concerns or for more information about this medicine.

Precautions and warnings

Do not take American Elder, Black Elder, Blueberry Elder, Canary Island Elder, Sambucus spp, or Velvet Elder if you are allergic to elderberry or any ingredients contained the drug.

Keep out of reach of children. In case of overdose, get medical help or contact a Poison Control Center immediately.

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