Sambucus nigra, commonly known as elderberry, is a naturally occurring fruit that has been used for thousands of years to treat a wide range of medical conditions including influenza and the common cold. Research has now shown that it’s an effective treatment for the common cold and that it can also speed recovery in people with influenza.
The berry has a number of benefits in addition to its cold-fighting properties. Studies have shown that elderberry boosts antioxidant activity throughout the body, leading to less oxidative stress. It may also help fight tumor formation by stimulating the body’s immune system.
Additionally, elderberry can be good for the heart. It may be able to lower high blood pressure and can help reduce bad cholesterol.
When taken in the proper dose, elderberry is safe, with few side effects. However, it can be toxic when consumed raw in large volumes, or when the berries aren’t ripe.
1Nature’s Way Original Sambucus Elderberry
The elderberry extract from Nature’s Way is vegan, kosher certified, gluten free, and free of any dairy, soy, nuts, or artificial coloring. The blend is triple action, and is blended from European black elder for maximum immune system support.
This blend uses premium elderberries made from a branch that has a higher level of flavonoids. These also extract BioActives that are available and active within your body. This formula is It has a syrup form with a delicious and comforting flavor thanks to the extraction method that doesn’t remove the potency.
The berries are grown and come from the Austrian hills. The farmers who till these berries have owned their land for generations, to ensure purity. The soil it was grown in is in the same region that is renowned for their flavorful grapes thanks to the mineral and nutrient filled soil. Nature’s Way is the best-selling Black Elderberry supplement brand and also one of the highest quality.
2Gaia Herbs Black Elderberry Syrup
For a great daily immune booster that’s safe for kids, give the Gaia Herbs formula a try. This plant-based supplement has a great taste that was formulated especially for children. It uses only certified organic ingredients, with a list only 5 ingredients long, including honey and elderberries to help soothe the upper respiratory system.
This formula is certified organic (by Oregon Tilth) and includes no artificial sweeteners, colors, or flavors. It also has no corn syrup, no soy, no dairy, and is gluten free. Gaia Herbs Elderberry is vegan friendly and tested for purity.
The syrup is processed right after their elderberries have been harvested, ensuring a highly concentrated serving. Gaia Herbs Elderberry supplement also includes calming herbs (like lemon and poppy) that help a night of restful sleep. If you prefer an adult sized portion, then check out their powder capsule. It’s super concentrated and made with the same great elderberry extract for year-round immune system health.
3Now Foods Elderberry Liquid
The Now Foods elderberry liquid is another fantastic bottle of elderberry extract. This one is also vegan, gluten free, and made with no soy, yeast, dairy, eggs, wheat, fish, or shellfish. It is manufactured in a GMP facility.
This product is pretty versatile. The ingredients are simple. You can take it directly as a supplement, or you can mix it into water or juice for a drink. In fact, you can even use it as an ingredient for jam! It’s the perfect natural immune system booster.
Reviews of this product are also favorable. People love that the elderberry extract has no fillers. Take it daily to boost your immune system on its mission to protect your body from viruses. These have extremely high nutritious value thanks to the ability to scavenge for free radicals. The anthocyanins and vitamins help, too.
4New Chapter Elderberry Capsules
For an extra potent elderberry supplement, try the New Chapter capsules. They include elderberry and black currant for double the immune system support, backed up by various medical studies. Best of all, they’re gluten free and vegan.
New Chapter sources the best possible black elderberry from Austria’s hill region. The dark color means it has a very high flavonoid content for a serving packed with antioxidants and able to be absorbed quickly by your body. Their supplement is verified non-GMO with no added sugars that come in the elderberry syrups. This supplement also includes no solvents, no gluten, and no synthetic or artificial fillers, flavors, or colors. It is made in the USA and certified vegan.
5Zhou Nutrition Elder-Mune Sambucus Elderberry Gummies
Zhou Nutrition elderberry gummies are great for people who don’t want pills and syrups for their supplements. They taste great and offer a fabulous immune boost using elderberry, along with vitamin C and zinc. These antioxidants target free radicals to keep you healthier and allow your immune system to function in a balanced way. These gummies offer extremely high potency; In fact, the lab tests have proven that this supplement has the highest level of elderberry extract potency on the market – for their category.
Zhou Nutrition elderberry gummies are manufactured in an FDA certified facility, that follows the Good Manufacturing Practices. This supplement is also verified non-GMO, and vegan-friendly.
6BioSchwartz Sambucus Elderberry Capsules
These BioSchwartz capsules are some of the most popular elderberry supplements on the market. Their advanced formula contains elderberry, zinc, and 200% daily value for Vitamin C. Together, the vitamin C, zinc, and elderberry amplify each other to offer maximum protection. They even fight the free radicals in your system and reduce the stress from oxidation.
The formula was designed by experts with high quality ingredients. The BioSchwartz Elderberry capsules are tested for purity and remain non-GMO and free of preservatives. They are also vegetarian and gluten-friendly and contain no dairy, soy, shellfish, wheat, egg, sugar, peanuts, or added sugar.
7Havasu Nutrition Elderberry Gummies
These premium elderberry gummies are made with a plant-based pectin, which means they have no gelatin, no fructose corn syrup, and are gluten-free. These also offer the additional immune support minerals zinc and vitamin C to enhance the effect of the elderberry. These naturally occurring free radical defenders maintain balance over your entire body. In fact, they can help remedy the fact that only 10% of Americans have enough vitamin C in their diet. (1)
This is also a delicious gummy that uses only natural ingredients, which makes them less sweet than other options. Havasu Nutrition provides third-party testing to ensure purity and quality in every bottle
8Nature’s Way Sambucus Sugar-Free Elderberry Syrup
The Nature’s Way elderberry sugar free syrup is great for people who can’t handle the sugar, often found in other elderberry products. This sugar free formula has the same fantastic elderberry concentration and immune boosting support as other formulas. Their elderberries were made with full-spectrum premium elderberries which offer potent BioActive flavonoids. Each unit has been tested to ensure the bioavailability of the elderberries and the immune boosting activity within the body.
This formula also contains no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives and is kosher-certified and gluten-free. Just like the top ranked option on our list, this has all the same great properties in a formula that is friendly to sugar-free diets.
9NutraChamps Elderberry Capsules
The NutraChamps elderberry capsules offer maximum strength immune system support without the sugar. These elderberry capsules can help boost immune systems, relieve allergy, cold, and flu symptoms, and boost immune systems while eliminating free radicals. They provide a maximum-strength dose of 1200 mgs per serving. They are also vegan and non-GMO.
NutraChamps elderberry capsules offer nearly 10 times the elderberry of other products. They are manufactured in the USA and free of any gluten, soy, eggs, dairy, nuts, wheat, sugar, and preservatives.
10Truvani Under the Weather Daily Herbal Supplement for Immune Support
Truvani Under the Weather Daily Herbal Supplement combines the power of elderberry with ginger, vitamin C, and amla berry for a total immune system boost. It also uses organic astragalus root, organic Echinacea root, organic garlic, organic licorice, and organic oregano to further enhance the immune system.
These ingredients form one of the most potent available biological blends to fight free radicals and reduce oxidative stress in your body.
How We Ranked
The first requirement we had, when ranking the best elderberry supplements, was potency and purity. We preferred supplements like Nature’s Way Original Sambucus Elderberry and New Chapter Elderberry Capsules that were pure elderberry extractions. However, we did reward supplements like Truvani Under the Weather that also provided supporting ingredients like echinacea root and organic licorice. This showed that the manufacturer cared more about providing a high quality and effective product, then simply making a cheap supplement.
We also looked at dosages. Smaller dosages, like Gaia Herbs are favored for children, while more potent doses, like Nutra Champs were favored for adults.
Next, we looked at the delivery method. Elderberry supplements come in variety of delivery methods including syrup, capsules and gummies. Syrup and capsules were preferred over gummies, like Zhou Nutrition, because they tended to be purer. Companies like Havasu Nutrition, who used pectin, instead of gelatine, were rewarded for providing an option that was vegetarians and vegan friendly.
Lastly, we looked for independent testing. All of these products have been lab tested and had their purity and claims verified by an independent test. Many of them are manufactured in FDA certified laboratories and all of them use Good Manufacturing Practice.
After all this, we determined the top 10 best elderberry supplements on the market.
1Elderberry can bolster the immune system. Vitamin C is crucial in proper immune function, helping the body fight infections and heal. It’s also a potent antioxidant and may have a role in preventing cancer, cataracts, and cardiovascular disease (1).
Elderberry is high in vitamin C, with up to 60% of daily recommended intake per serving. This is part of the reason elderberry is so effective for boosting the immune system and treating colds.
2Elderberry can help with digestion. Elderberry also has high amounts of fiber, a type of carbohydrate that is important in converting food to energy. Without fiber in the diet, nutrients are processed as efficiently, and you may also experience digestive discomfort.
Fiber is one of the most important nutrients for regulating digestion. Low levels of fiber can also lead to blood sugar spikes and energy crashes. When the body gets enough fiber, food is processed more evenly, leading to smoother, more consistent energy levels (2).
3Elderberry may have anti-tumor properties. The immune boosting effects of elderberry may also help patients with cancer by suppressing the formation of tumors and preventing the spread of cancer around the body. Patients who were given an elderberry extract had increased levels of cytokines. These cells are crucial in fighting tumors and help prevent the spread of different types of cancers (3).
Many of these studies were conducted in test tubes or in mice, so more research is needed to see how the findings apply to humans, and it what types of cancers treatment with elderberry is appropriate.
Elderberry should also not be used as a first-line treatment for cancer. However, it may be effective in stimulating the immune system when combined with other cancer treatments.
4Elderberry boosts the immune system in patients with AIDS. AIDS compromises the immune system, leaving the body vulnerable to infections. Elderberry stimulates the body’s immune and inflammatory response. That means that the body is able to target foreign bacteria and infected cells, removing them from the body (4).
A 2001 study showed that it does this by increasing the production of cytokines, cells that attack infected tissue (4).
Elderberry should not be used as a primary treatment for AIDS or for any infections. However, it may be useful when used in combination with other drugs.
5Elderberry can reduce the length of your cold. Elderberry is known for its immune boosting properties, with molecules such as polyphenols acting to stimulate the body’s immune response. A 2016 study showed that it’s effective to treat common colds, and research has begun to confirm its effectiveness for this purpose (5).
Research has shown that elderberry can speed recovery time in people with the common cold. Another 2016 double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial demonstrated that air travelers who developed a cold and were given elderberry extract showed a significantly faster recovery time than people who were not treated with elderberry (6).
6Elderberry can help lower blood pressure. High blood pressure affects millions of people and increases the risk of heart disease and stroke, two leading causes of death worldwide.
A 2012 study showed that elderberry extract could act to lower high blood pressure in rats. Oxidative stress may increase blood pressure and affect cardiovascular health. The antioxidant compounds in elderberry, such as polyphenols, may help lower blood pressure levels by reducing oxidative stress (7).
Elderberries may also lower levels of uric acid in the bloodstream. Uric acid has been associated with higher blood pressure, as well as a number of other heart conditions (8).
7Elderberry can boost overall antioxidant activity throughout the body. Elderberry has been shown to be one of the most antioxidant dense foods, and it contains a wide range of molecules that help fight free radicals, including polyphenols and vitamin C. Free radicals play a role in a number of medical conditions, including heart disease, cancer, and dementia. Antioxidants help protect cells from free radicals, extending their lifespan (9).
A study showed that elderberry had significantly more antioxidants than most other varieties of berries (10).
This makes it more cost-effective than other berries such as blueberries if you need food to fight free radicals. Consumption of elderly berry juice led to a large increase in antioxidant activity and a reduction in oxidative stress. These effects were seen just 1 hour after subjects were given elderberry (11).
8Elderberry can help reduce the risk of heart disease. Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death worldwide. It leads to narrowed arteries, causing heart attacks and strokes. Elderberry may be able to reduce the risk of heart disease and improve heart health.
A 2014 study published in the British Journal of Nutrition showed that elderberry produces a type of molecule called anthocyanidins, which have been shown to have a positive effect on heart health and reduce the risk of heart disease (12).
9Elderberry can help with arthritis symptoms. The antioxidant properties of elderberry may make it an effective natural treatment for arthritis. Antioxidants can help reduce inflammation, and may also help reduce pain (13).
Research has shown that elderberry may be effective at reducing inflammation. However, more studies are needed to see if the berry can reduce inflammation in arthritic joints.
Elderberry should not be used as a first-line treatment for arthritis, as evidence of its efficacy is still lacking. However, it’s safe when used in combination with other anti-inflammatory drugs.
10Elderberry can boost mood. In addition to its antioxidant effects, elderberry may also be able to fight depression and improve mood in certain cases. A 2014 study conducted in mice found that elderberry showed antidepressant activity and increased activity levels (14).
Although more research needs to be conducted in humans, early results show that elderberry could be an effective natural antidepressant.
11Elderberry is a natural remedy for influenza. Elderberry acts to boost the immune system, helping it clear the body of infections and heal more quickly. This makes it an effective natural treatment for influenza, as well as other similar infections. People who received 4 tablespoons per day of elderberry syrup recovered from influenza faster than those who did not receive the treatment (15).
Symptoms of the flu, such as headache, fever, and fatigue, also improved quickly. Another study showed that people who received elderberry recovered twice as fast as those who did not receive treatment with elderberry. (16).
These patients were given 15 ml of elderberry syrup over the course of 5 days.
12Elderberry can help lower blood sugar levels. Elderberry contains a number of compounds that stimulate insulin release and the uptake of sugar into the muscles, helping lower blood sugar levels (19).
This makes elderberry a potential alternative treatment for patients with diabetes, as well as for anyone who needs to regulate blood sugar levels. More research is needed to see if elderberry is effective enough to be a primary treatment for diabetes. However, it may potentially be a useful treatment when combined with other diabetes medications.
13Elderberry can help relieve a sore throat. Elderberry has long been used for its cold-fighting properties and to treat influenza. It may also be able to relieve sore throats, reducing pain, and making eating easier. Its high levels of antioxidants, including vitamin C, help boost the immune system and heal tissue damaged by the infection.
The berry has antiviral properties, helping the immune system identify and remove cells that are infected by viruses. This may speed the healing process and improve symptoms in people with sore throats (20).
Elderberry is normally taken as a lozenge for sore throats, although it can also be consumed as a syrup (21).
Both preparations are effective in treating sore throats.
14Elderberry may help fight cancer. A 2017 review found that elderberry may have some cancer-inhibiting properties in test-tube studies (22).
15Elderberry could protect against UV radiation. A 2010 study showed that elderberry extract was found to have a sun protection factor (SPF) of around 10, which helps mildly protect against UV damage (23).
Elderberry is generally safe when taken as an extract. However, there may be some side effects, especially when elderberry is consumed raw.
1Unripe elderberries contain lectins, a type of molecule that can cause stomach discomfort (24). 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.
2If 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.
3Elderberry may interact with some medication. However, it can interfere with certain drugs that are meant to reduce the activity of the immune system (25).
4Certain medical conditions, such as autoimmune disorders, are often treated with these drugs, as they prevent the immune system from attacking healthy tissue.
5Elderberry 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.
6The elderberry plant contains substances called cyanogenic glycosides. This can release cyanide ( a deadly toxin) in some circumstances.
7Elderberry can cause IBS like symptoms. Symptoms of eating uncooked berries, leaves, bark, or roots of the elderberry include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea (26).
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 (27).
A study that looked at the role of elderberry in treating influenza gave patients 15 ml of elderberry syrup (28). Another study gave travelers who had the common cold 900 mg of elderberry 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.
Elderberry 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.
Is elderberry toxic? Raw elderberries contain a type of molecule called cyanogenic glycosides. This molecule is a precursor to cyanide, a potent toxin that can be lethal in small doses.
However, raw elderlies have a very low concentration of cyanide. You would have to eat over 6 pounds of raw berries to get a lethal dose of cyanide.
Although not lethal, you should still cook elderberry before consuming, or take the berry in an extract form.
Are whole berries better than extracts or juices? Although there is some benefit to consuming whole foods as opposed to extracts, there is little research that shows fresh elderberries are more effective than extracts or juices.
Most modern studies were done with elderberry use extracts or juice instead of raw berries. These are more affordable and easy to prepare. It’s also much easier to get a standardized dose, ensuring that patients receive the same amount of elderberry every time they take it.
Can children take elderberry supplements? There is little research showing that elderberry is dangerous for children. However, there is also little research showing that it is safe.
It is recommended that children stay away from elderberry, although there is little risk if it’s accidentally consumed at a low dose.
Will elderberry cure a cold? Elderberry has long been used as a treatment for colds. Indeed, there is research indicating that elderberry can improve recovery time in people with the common cold (29).
However, elderberry does not cure colds directly. Rather, it has a number of antioxidant molecules, including vitamin C and polyphenols, that help boost the activity of the immune system. This helps the body to fight the infection that is causing the cold.
Can you take elderberry indefinitely? There is little research on the use of elderberry over prolonged periods. Studies that have looked into its antioxidant and illness fighting properties have found few short term side effects, so elderberry is likely safe when taken indefinitely.
However, if you plan on taking elderberry for long periods, you should consult with your doctor and discuss any other medicine you are taking.
Will elderberry interact with medication? Elderberry is generally safe when taken with most medications. However, you should be careful when taking the supplement with any medicine that is designed to suppress the immune system. Elderberry tends to increase immune activity, so it can interfere with the action of this class of drugs. Elderberry may reduce levels of theophylline, a drug taken for asthma and other respiratory conditions.
Drugs that decrease the activity of the immune system include azathioprine, daclizumab, and cyclosporine. If you are taking any of these drugs, speak to your doctor before consuming elderberry (30).
Can elderberries be consumed as food? Yes. Elderberries have long been used for food consumption, and are often made into jams. They are safe, so long as the berries are ripe and cooked.
When picking berries, make sure that they are dark, as green berries can be toxic even after they have been cooked. They also have a bitter flavor when not ripe.
Can elderberries be taken alongside other flu medications? There are a number of commercial flu medicines that have elderberry added, although concentration varies widely. If you are taking an elderberry extract, you can take other flu medication. However, check that the medicine that contains elderberry doesn’t also contain drugs like acetaminophen (Tylenol). If it does, be careful when taking other flu medications, as these often also contain acetaminophen. Always check both labels to see if they have any of the same ingredients.
How long can you take elderberry? It is only recommended to use Elderberry for about 5 days because studies of long term use have not been done and it’s unknown if taking elderberry supplements are safe when used for long periods of time.
Is Elderberry toxic? The seeds, stems, leaves, and roots of the Black Elder are all poisonous to humans. They contain a cyanide-inducing glycoside. Eating a sufficient quantity of these cyanide-inducing glycosides can cause a toxic buildup of cyanide in the body and make you quite ill.
Does elderberry syrup help stomach virus? Elderberry juice syrup has been used for centuries as a home remedy to treat the cold and flu, both of which are caused by a virus. The syrup is believed to reduce the severity and duration of the infection if taken within 48 hours of the first symptoms.
Which elderberries are edible? The blue or purple berries are gathered and made into elderberry wine, jam, syrup, and pies. The entire flower cluster can be dipped in batter and fried while petals can be eaten raw or made into a fragrant and tasty tea.
Does Elderberry help with norovirus? According to some virologists, compounds in elderberry help to prevent virus overgrowth in the body.
Is Sambucus the same as elderberry? Elderberry refers to several varieties of the Sambucus tree, which has clusters of white flowers and black or blue-black berries. The most common variety is Sambucus nigra, also known as European elderberry or black elderberry.
Is elderberry safe to take daily? Elderberry supplements seem to have few risks when used daily for up to five days. The safety of its long-term use is unknown. Remember to never eat or drink any product made from raw elderberry fruit, flowers, or leaves.
Does elderberry kill good bacteria? No research has shown that elderberry kills bad bacteria.
Is Elderberry an antiviral? Yes, in addition to its antiviral properties, Sambucol Elderberry Extract and its formulations activate the healthy immune system by increasing inflammatory cytokine production.
Is elderberry syrup really effective? A rich source of antioxidants known as anthocyanins, elderberry is reputed by some to be effective in treating the common cold, flu, constipation, hay fever, and sinus infections.
Is elderberry syrup, gummies or capsules better? Neither is better than the other, they are simply different. Syrup and capsule based elderberry supplements tend to be purer. Gummies tend to be easier to consume. When choosing the product for you, make sure to look at the dosages and if there are any additional ingredients that don’t agree with your diet.
Elderberries are a potent natural source of antioxidants, and play a role in treating a wide range of health conditions, from common colds to diabetes.
Elderberry has long been taken in traditional medicine to fight colds. Modern research has confirmed that the berry is effective in fighting off the common cold and speeding recovery time. It may also help prevent the formation of tumors by increasing the production of cytokines, cells that are crucial in the body’s immune response. This increase in cytokine production could help patients with AIDS as well.
The berry boosts antioxidant activity in the body, helping reduce oxidative stress. The polyphenols may also help treat arthritis by reducing inflammation in joints.
Furthermore, elderberry has been shown to protect the heart. It can help lower high blood pressure, as well as reduce cholesterol levels. It may also lower blood sugar levels in people with diabetes by stimulating the release of insulin.
Although raw elderberries can be toxic when consumed in large volumes, the berries are safe when cooked or taken as an extract or juice.