HomeHealth articleselderberryWhat Are the Uses of Elderberry?

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

Written by

Dr. Parul Anand

Medically reviewed by

Neha Suryawanshi

Published At October 5, 2022
Reviewed AtFebruary 28, 2023


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.

Frequently Asked Questions


What Are the Uses of Elderberry?

Elderberry is used in the following conditions:
 - Kidney problems.
 - Constipation.
 - Hay fever.
 - Headaches.
 - Upper respiratory infections.
 - Muscle and joint pain.
 - Stress.
 - Lowers the risk of cancer.
 - Epilepsy.


Who Should Not Consume Elderberries?

Elderberry should not be given to children below the age of five years to treat colds and other flu-like symptoms. Also, unripe and uncooked elderberries are unsafe for consumption and should not be given to children. Since there is no evidence available for who should consume elderberries, precautions must be followed, and consult the doctor for advice.


What Happens if One Takes Elderberries Every Day?

Elderberry products are considered safe to consume daily if they do not consume cyanide. In addition to this, elderberries should be consumed every day in the recommended amounts or dosage only to avoid the side effects of overconsumption. However, no specific standard dose is recommended for elderberry consumption.


What Are the Disadvantages of Taking Elderberries?

Elderberry cannot be consumed uncooked or unripe as it can be toxic for a person and may cause the following side effects:
 - Vomiting.
 - Severe diarrhea.
 - Nausea.


Does Elderberry Have Any Side Effects?

The side effects of elderberry include:
 - It causes stomach cramps.
 - Vomiting.
 - Severe diarrhea.
 - Dyspnea and hives.
 - Runny nose.
 - Numbness.
 - Weakness and dizziness.
 - A continuous state of confusion.


Is Elderberry Good for Sleep?

Elderberry syrups help a person to have a restful sleep and provide relaxing and calming effects to the body. Also, elderberries can reduce stress levels by lowering oxidative stress in the central nervous system and treating depression. Therefore, elderberries can induce good sleep in a person.


When Should One Take Elderberries? In the Morning or at Night?

There is no fixed time to take elderberries, but a person should take it regularly for more effective results. A person can decide the time (morning, afternoon, and evening) for taking elderberries regularly. It is advisable to take berries for a short period to keep the immune system healthy and then stop for some time before restarting.


Does Elderberry Give Us Energy?

Elderberries are a rich source of vitamin C and help to keep a person healthy. Also, vitamin C is essential to keep a person's energy levels high and even regain the body's energy. In addition, elderberries contain various antioxidants and other vitamins that boost a person's immune system.


How Many Elderberries Should One Take in a Day?

To keep the immune system active, a person should consume 150 to 300 milligrams of elderberries daily. However, there is no recommended standard dose for elderberries, but one tablespoon of syrup is advised four times a day, and elderberry gummies can be taken two to four per day.


Can Elderberry Affect Thyroid?

Elderberry is contraindicated in people with thyroid problems, such as Hashimoto's, an auto-immune thyroid gland disease. This is because elderberries can boost the immune system and cause more harm to the thyroid gland by stimulating the immune cells. Therefore, people suffering from thyroid problems should avoid food that induces the body's immune system.


Does Elderberry Help If a Person Is Sick?

If a person is sick, elderberries can reduce the severity and duration of the symptoms such as flu and cold. In addition, since elderberry is an excellent antioxidant, it can help a person gain the body's natural immunity against infections. Therefore, elderberries help a person if they are sick.


Do Elderberries Help Us To Lose Weight?

Elderberries contain less fat and can be added to the diet if a person plans to lose weight. Besides having various health benefits, elderberries also positively affect a person's eating habits and lifestyle. For example, elderberries can lower blood sugar levels, control cholesterol levels in the body, and help in weight loss.


Is Elderberry a Natural Antibiotic?

Liquid extracts of elderberry are found to have antimicrobial properties and are effective against certain gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria.


Which Is Better, Elderberry Syrup or Capsules?

Elderberry syrup is better than a capsule because it gets quickly absorbed by the body, whereas capsules and other elderberries take longer to get digested. Also, elderberry syrups start getting digested from the mouth membrane and can treat flu symptoms if taken within 48 hours of the initial first symptom.
Source Article IclonSourcesSource Article Arrow
Neha Suryawanshi
Neha Suryawanshi


Source Article ArrowMost popular articles

Do you have a question on


Ask a Wellness 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.