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 shown that it’s an effective treatment for the common cold and that it can also speed up the recovery of people with influenza.
Additionally, elderberry can be good for the heart by reducing high blood pressure and bad cholesterol.
1. Nature’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. Their blend is sourced from European black elder for maximum immune system support.
This formula is also available as a syrup for ease of consumption. Nature’s Way is the best-selling Black Elderberry supplement brand and also one of the highest quality, which is why it’s our number #1 ranked elderberry product.
2. Gaia Herbs Black Elderberry Syrup
Gaia Herbs is a plant-based supplement that was formulated especially for children. It uses only certified organic ingredients, with a list of only 5 ingredients, 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, corn syrup, soy, dairy, and is gluten-free. Gaia Herbs Elderberry is also vegan-friendly.
3. Now Foods Elderberry Liquid
Now Foods elderberry liquid is vegan, gluten-free, and made with no soy, yeast, dairy, eggs, wheat, fish, or shellfish. It’s a 10:1 concentrate and contains 500mg per teaspoon. It’s also manufactured in a GMP accredited facility so that it meets the highest quality standards.
4. New Chapter Elderberry Capsules
New Chapter capsules include elderberry and black currant for double the immune system support, backed up by various medical studies. They’re also gluten-free and vegan.
New Chapter capsules are verified non-GMO, with no added sugars that come in the elderberry syrups. This supplement also includes no solvents, gluten, synthetic or artificial fillers, flavors, or colors.
5. Zhou Nutrition Elder-Mune Sambucus Elderberry Gummies
Zhou Nutrition elderberry gummies are an alternative for people who don’t want pills and syrups. It contains vitamin C and zinc which support the immune system.
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.
6. BioSchwartz Sambucus Elderberry Capsules
BioSchwartz capsules contain elderberry, zinc, and 200% daily value for Vitamin C.
BioSchwartz Elderberry capsules are 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.
7. Havasu Nutrition Elderberry Gummies
Havasu gummies are made with plant-based pectin, which means they have no gelatin, no fructose corn syrup, and are gluten-free. These also offer additional immune support minerals zinc and vitamin C to enhance the effect of the elderberry.
8. Nature’s Way Sambucus Sugar-Free Elderberry Syrup
Nature’s Way elderberry sugar-free syrup is a good alternative for people who can’t handle the sugar often found in other elderberry products. This formula also contains no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives. It’s also kosher-certified and gluten-free.
9. NutraChamps Elderberry Capsules
NutraChamps elderberry capsules offer a maximum-strength dose of 1200 mg per serving. They are also vegan and non-GMO.
NutraChamps elderberry capsules offer nearly 10 times the elderberry content of other products. They are manufactured in the USA and free of any gluten, soy, eggs, dairy, nuts, wheat, sugar, and preservatives.
10. Truvani Under the Weather Daily Herbal Supplement for Immune Support
Truvani Under the Weather Daily Herbal Supplement combines elderberry with ginger, vitamin C, and amla berry. It also uses organic astragalus root, organic Echinacea root, organic garlic, organic licorice, and organic oregano to enhance the immune system.
How We Ranked
The first requirement 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 high quality and effective products rather than simply making a cheap supplement.
Next, we looked at the delivery method. Elderberry supplements come in a 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 vegetarian and vegan-friendly.
Lastly, we looked for independent testing. All of these products have been lab-tested and had their purity verified by an independent test. Many of them are manufactured in FDA certified laboratories and all of them use Good Manufacturing Practice.
1. Elderberry 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.
2. Elderberry 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).
3. Elderberry 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 which types of cancer respond to treatment with elderberry.
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.
4. Elderberry 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 can 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 (5).
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.
5. Elderberry 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 (6).
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 (7).
6. Elderberry 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 (8).
Elderberries may also lower levels of uric acid in the bloodstream. Uric acid has been associated with higher blood pressure, as well as several other heart conditions (9).
7. Elderberry can boost overall antioxidant activity throughout the body. Elderberry is 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 several medical conditions, including heart disease, cancer, and dementia. Antioxidants help protect cells from free radicals, extending their lifespan (10).
A study showed that elderberry had significantly more antioxidants than most other varieties of berries (11).
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 (12).
8. Elderberry 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 (13).
9. Elderberry 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 (14).
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.
10. Elderberry 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 (15).
Although more research needs to be conducted in humans, early results show that elderberry could be an effective natural antidepressant supplement.
11. Elderberry 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 (16).
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 (17).
12. Elderberry can help lower blood sugar levels. Elderberry contains several compounds that stimulate insulin release and the uptake of sugar into the muscles, helping lower blood sugar levels (18).
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.
13. Elderberry 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 (19).
Elderberry is normally taken as a lozenge for sore throats, although it can also be consumed as a syrup (20).
14. Elderberry may help fight cancer. A 2017 review found that elderberry may have some cancer-inhibiting properties in test-tube studies (21).
15. Elderberry 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 (22).
1. Unripe elderberries contain lectins, a type of molecule that can cause stomach discomfort (23). 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.
2. 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.
3. Elderberry may interact with some medication. It can interfere with certain drugs that are meant to reduce the activity of the immune system (24).
4. The elderberry plant contains substances called cyanogenic glycosides. This can release toxic cyanides in some circumstances.
5. Elderberry can cause IBS like symptoms. Symptoms of eating uncooked berries, leaves, bark, or roots of the elderberry include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea (25).
Elderberry is used for a wide range of different medical conditions, with varying doses depending on the condition. When consumed as juice, one study gave participants 400 ml of elderberry to test its antioxidant properties (26). Another study that looked at the role of elderberry in treating influenza gave patients 15 ml of elderberry syrup (27).
If you are taking elderberry, check the concentration before taking the supplement, and consult the dosage instructions provided by the supplier. If you are taking any other medication, always consult with your doctor before taking elderberry supplements.
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 your desired dosage.
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 as an extract.
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 easier 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 (28).
However, elderberry does not cure colds directly. Rather, it has some 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 (29).
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? Several commercial flu medicines have elderberry as an ingredient, 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 performed and it’s unknown if taking elderberry supplements is safe when used for long periods.
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 viral growth 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 effective? Elderberry is a rich source of antioxidants known as anthocyanins which are reputed 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 any additional ingredients don’t agree with your diet.
Can elderberry boost antioxidants activity in the body? The berry has many 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.
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.
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.
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