Diet and Nutrition Data Verified

Elderberry: Uses and Side Effects

Published on Oct 05, 2022 and last reviewed on Feb 28, 2023   -  5 min read


Elderberry is native to the warmer parts of Europe, North America, Asia, and Northern Africa and is used to treat flu and colds.


Elderberry belongs to the tree known as Sambucus. The most common tree of the family Sambucus is the European elder (Sambucus nigra). The edible parts of the tree are flowers along with berries. The berries need to be cooked before consumption in uncooked or raw form, and these berries are considered toxic and lead to nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. The berries are dietary supplements to cure colds, flu, and other upper respiratory tract infections. The other uses of elderberry are not studied on a large scale yet, but still, some evidence supports using these berries in managing COVID-19. The article reviews the benefits, side effects, and other research to consider elderberry as a nutritional supplement.

What Is the Nutritional Composition of Elderberries?

One cup of elderberries contains the following nutrients:

  • 116 grams of water.

  • 1 gram of protein.

  • 0.7 grams of fat.

  • 27 grams of carbohydrates.

  • 10 grams of fiber.

  • 55 grams of calcium.

  • 2 grams of iron.

  • 7.3 grams of magnesium.

  • 52 grams of vitamin C.

  • 44 grams of vitamin A.

  • 406 grams of potassium.

What Are the Uses of Elderberry?

The elderberry supplements are used to treat the following conditions :

  1. Colds and the Flu: Elderberries are used in managing colds and flu due to their immunity-boosting properties. These have also been used in treating COVID-19 patients.

  2. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: It is characterized by extreme fatigue caused due to an underlying medical condition. The symptoms include:

  • Fatigue.

  • Headaches.

  • Swollen lymph nodes in the neck and armpits.

  • Joint pain.

  • Dizziness.

  • Unrefreshing sleep.

  • Sore throat.

  • Memory or concentration issues.

These symptoms are checked to rule out chronic fatigue syndrome, and its management involves focusing on treating the symptoms only, as the syndrome cannot be cured.

The role of elderberries is seen in treating the symptoms like fatigue, dizziness, and headaches along with the therapies like counseling to manage depression.

  1. Constipation: It occurs when bowel movements become less frequent, like less than three movements per week. In this condition, there can be difficulty in passing stools. Elderberries help treat constipation as these are rich sources of fibers. Fiber thus helps in easing bowel movements.

  2. Hay Fever: It is also called allergic rhinitis. The symptoms are the same: cold, sneezing, congestion, runny nose, itchy eyes, and sinus pressure. As there is no other method to prevent hay fever, elderberries are used to improve immunity.

  3. Upper Respiratory Infections: The throat and sinuses are the major organs to be affected in upper respiratory tract infections. These infections cause-

These infections can be treated with medical help along with nutritional supplements responsible for boosting immunity, like elderberries (that contain vitamin C).

Other uses of elderberries include:

  • Relief in headaches.

  • Treating toothaches.

  • Lowers the risk of cancer.

  • Declines the process of inflammation.

  • Reduction in cholesterol levels.

What Is the Taste of Elderberries?

The elderberries have a tart flavor, somewhat earthy. As they do not have a sweet taste, these go well with sweeter fruits such as:

  • Peaches.

  • Plums.

  • Figs.

These pair well with citrus fruits also:

  • Lemons.

  • Oranges.

In What Forms Can Elderberries Be Taken?

There are various forms of elderberries like-

  • Syrups.

  • Gummies.

  • Elderberry tea.

  • Lozenges.

  • Capsules.

  • Liquid herbal supplements.

  • Elderberry jellies.

How To Take Elderberries?

  1. Elderberry should be taken as prescribed or labeled. It should not be used in larger or smaller amounts and also not be used for a more extended period.

  2. The different forms of elderberry, like pills, liquid, and other supplemental documents, must not be taken at the same time as it can be a reason to cause an overdose.

  3. It can be mixed in liquid form with fruit juice, yogurt, water, or a smoothie.

What Are the Side Effects of Elderberry?

Following are the common side effects of elderberries:

  • Allergic reactions like hives, dyspnea (difficulty in breathing), and swelling in the lips, throat, face, or tongue.

  • Severe diarrhea or vomiting.

  • Numbness.

  • Severe dizziness, weakness, and a continuous state of confusion.

  • Stomach cramps.

  • Runny nose.

What Is the Role of Elderberry in Treating COVID-19?

Several people used to rely on elderberry supplements to relieve the effects of the following conditions-

But no research or evident data proves the efficacy of elderberries in treating or curing the COVID-19 disease. Many companies in the market advertise their products containing elderberries claiming that these berries help treat COVID-19. The U.S food and drug administration has taken action against these companies for delivering uninformed claims to the standard population.

What Do the Latest Studies Claim?

  • Michael Macknin conducted a study to justify the role of elderberries in treating influenza B. There are two forms of influenza- A and B.

  • Influenza A is the most common form of influenza caused by birds and other animals and is responsible for destructive pandemics.

  • Influenza B is less common, occurs due to human infection, and is not responsible for pandemic creation.

The study was conducted on 87 patients aged above five years and those who tested positive for influenza or the flu. These patients showed the following symptoms-

  • Body aches.

  • Chills.

  • Cough.

  • Fatigue.

  • Headaches.

  • Sore throat.

  • Nasal congestion.

These patients were given elderberry supplements or a placebo effect (a dummy treatment) along with an antiviral drug, oseltamivir, for five days. The patients between the age of 5 to 12 years were given 15 ml of elderberry extract via oral route or placebo effect, and those above the age of 12 years were given 15 ml of elderberry extract four times a day. All these patients were treated for five days. No difference was seen in the severity or duration of flu symptoms of the patients given elderberry and the placebo effect.


The elderberry supplementation is effective in patients suffering from the cold or flu but not up to a greater extent as these boost immunity. There is no evidence supporting the claim that elderberries are proven effective against COVID-19 and cancer cases. Elderberries play a role in providing adjuvant help in treating cases of depression, chronic sleep syndrome, upper respiratory tract infections, hay fever, constipation, etc. Studies are being conducted to rule out the efficacy of elderberry supplements as nutritional components in treating various medical conditions like diabetes mellitus, cancer, inflammation, etc.

Article Resources

Last reviewed at:
28 Feb 2023  -  5 min read




Popular Articles Most Popular Articles

Do you have a question on Elderberry or ?

Ask an expert Online

* guaranteed answer within 4 hours.

Disclaimer: Wellness medicine is not aimed to replace the services of your treating physician or allopathy medicines. Our site's information is to those who are willing to take responsibility for their health, being fully aware that the content published herein would not qualify as a prescription or specific medical advice. If users use the information and stop prescribed medication without their physician's consent, they bear full responsibility for their actions, and iCliniq-Wellness bears no responsibility for the same. Information on Wellness medicine should not be misinterpreted as a cure for any illness, as our body is complex and everyone reacts differently.

Disclaimer: No content published on this website is intended to be a substitute for professional medical diagnosis, advice or treatment by a trained physician. Seek advice from your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with questions you may have regarding your symptoms and medical condition for a complete medical diagnosis. Do not delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice because of something you have read on this website. Read our Editorial Process to know how we create content for health articles and queries.