©2018 WebMD, Inc. All rights reserved. eMedicineHealth does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. See Additional Information.

Elderberry

What other names is Elderberry known by?

Arbre de Judas, Baccae, Baises de Sureau, Black-Berried Alder, Black Elder, Black Elderberry, Boor Tree, Bountry, Elder, Common Elder. Elder Berry, Elderberries, Elderberry Fruit, Ellanwood, Ellhorn, European Alder, European Black Elder, European Black Elderberry, European Elderberry, European Elder Fruit, European Elderberry, Fruit de Sureau, Grand Sureau, Hautbois, Holunderbeeren, Sabugeuiro-negro, Sambequier, Sambu, Sambuc, Sambuci Sambucus, Sambucus nigra, Sambugo, Sauco, Saúco Europeo, Schwarzer Holunder, Seuillet, Seuillon, Sureau, Sureau Européen, Sureau Noir, Sus, Suseau, Sussier.

What is Elderberry?

Elderberry is the dark purple berry from the European elder tree. The berries are used to make medicine. Do not confuse elderberry with American Elder, Elderflower, or Dwarf Elder.

Elderberry is used for the common cold, "the flu" (influenza), and H1N1 "swine" flu. It is also used for HIV/AIDS and boosting the immune system. Elderberry is also used for sinus pain, back and leg pain (sciatica), nerve pain (neuralgia), and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).

Some people use elderberry for hay fever (allergic rhinitis), cancer, as a laxative for constipation, to increase urine flow, and to cause sweating.

It is used for heart disease, high cholesterol, headache, toothache, and weight loss.

Elderberry is applied inside the mouth for gum inflammation.

Elderberry fruit is also used for making wine and as a food flavoring.

Possibly Effective for...

  • "The flu," also called influenza. A specific syrup containing elderberry juice (Sambucol by Nature's Way) seems to relieve flu symptoms and reduce the length of time the flu lasts when taken by mouth within 48 hours of the first symptoms. Other research shows that taking elderberry lozenges (ViraBLOC by HerbalScience) within 24 hours of the first symptoms also reduces flu symptoms. Relief seems to occur within 2 to 4 days of treatment for most people.

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • Heart disease. Early research shows that taking elderberry extract daily for 12 weeks does not reduce risk factors for heart disease in postmenopausal women.
  • The common cold. Early research shows that taking a specific type of elderberry extract (BerryPharma, Iprona AG, Lana BZ, Italy) for 10 days before and up to 5 days after arriving at an overseas travel destination does not prevent colds from developing. However it does seem to shorten the duration of colds and reduce cold symptoms.
  • Gum inflammation (gingivitis). Early research shows that using a mouth rinse (HM-302, Izun Pharmaceuticals, New York, NY) or mouth patches (PerioPatch, Izun Pharmaceuticals, New York, NY) containing elderberry, echinacea, and gotu kola prevents gingivitis from worsening. However, it doesn't seem to improve symptoms.
  • High cholesterol. Early research shows that taking capsules containing dried elderberry three times daily for 2 weeks does not reduce cholesterol levels in people with high cholesterol.
  • Cancer.
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).
  • Constipation.
  • H1N1 "swine" flu.
  • HIV/AIDS.
  • Hay fever.
  • Headache.
  • Nerve pain.
  • Toothache.
  • Weightloss.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate elderberry for these uses.

SLIDESHOW

Natural Remedies for Cold and Flu See Slideshow

How does Elderberry work?

Elderberry might affect the immune system. Elderberry seems to have activity against viruses including the flu. It might also reduce inflammation.

Are there safety concerns?

Elderberry juice extract is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken by mouth for up to 12 weeks. It's not known if taking elderberry juice extract is safe when used for longer periods of time.

Elderberry is POSSIBLY UNSAFE when the leaves, stems, unripened fruit, or uncooked fruit is consumed. The cooked elderberry fruit seems to be safe, but raw and unripe fruit might cause nausea, vomiting, or severe diarrhea.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Not enough is known about the safety of using elderberry during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

"Autoimmune diseases" such as multiple sclerosis (MS), lupus (systemic lupus erythematosus, SLE), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), or other conditions: Elderberry might cause the immune system to become more active, and this could increase the symptoms of autoimmune diseases. If you have one of these conditions, it's best to avoid using elderberry.

Are there any interactions with medications?


Medications that decrease the immune system (Immunosuppressants)Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.Talk with your health provider.

Elderberry can increase the immune system. Taking elderberry along with some medications that decrease the immune system might decrease the effectiveness of medications that decrease the immune system.

Some medications that decrease the immune system include azathioprine (Imuran), basiliximab (Simulect), cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune), daclizumab (Zenapax), muromonab-CD3 (OKT3, Orthoclone OKT3), mycophenolate (CellCept), tacrolimus (FK506, Prograf), sirolimus (Rapamune), prednisone (Deltasone, Orasone), corticosteroids (glucocorticoids), and others.

Dosing considerations for Elderberry.

The following doses have been studied in scientific research:

BY MOUTH:

  • The flu: One tablespoon (15 mL) of a specific elderberry juice-containing syrup (Sambucol by Nature's Way) has been taken four times daily for 3-5 days. Also, a specific lozenge (ViraBLOC by HerbalScience) containing 175 mg of elderberry extract has been taken four times daily for 2 days.
CHILDREN

BY MOUTH:

  • The flu: One tablespoon (15 mL) of a specific elderberry juice-containing syrup (Sambucol by Nature's Way) has been taken twice daily for 3 days.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors

Reviewed on 9/17/2019
References

Azadmehr A, Ziaee A, Ghanei L, Fallah Huseini H, Hajiaghaee R, Tavakoli-Far B, Kordafshari G. A Randomized Clinical Trial Study: Anti-Oxidant, Anti-hyperglycemic and Anti-Hyperlipidemic Effects of Olibanum Gum in Type 2 Diabetic Patients. Iran J Pharm Res. 2014 Summer;13(3):1003-9. View abstract.

Bagchi D, Roy S, Patel V, He G, Khanna S, Ojha N, Phillips C, Ghosh S, Bagchi M, Sen CK. Safety and whole-body antioxidant potential of a novel anthocyanin-rich formulation of edible berries. Mol Cell Biochem. 2006 Jan;281(1-2):197-209. View abstract.

Barak V, Halperin T, Kalickman I. The effect of Sambucol, a black elderberry-based, natural product, on the production of human cytokines: I. Inflammatory cytokines. Eur Cytokine Netw 2001;12:290-6.. View abstract.

Bitsch I, Janssen M, Netzel M, et al. Bioavailability of anthocyanidin-3-glycosides following consumption of elderberry extract and blackcurrant juice. Int J Clin Pharmacol Ther 2004;42:293-300. View abstract.

Cao G, Prior RL. Anthocyanins are detected in human plasma after oral administration of an elderberry extract. Clin Chem 1999;45:574-6. View abstract.

Curtis PJ, Kroon PA, Hollands WJ, et al. Cardiovascular disease risk biomarkers and liver and kidney function are not altered in postmenopausal women after ingesting an elderberry extract rich in anthocyanins for 12 weeks. J Nutr 2009;139:2266-71. View abstract.

Elderberry (Sambucus species). The Poison Plant Patch, Novia Scotia Museum, 2007. Available at: http://museum.gov.ns.ca/poison/?section=species&id=117 (Accessed 16 October 2009).

European elder. Canadian Poisonous Plants Information System. Available at: http://www.cbif.gc.ca/pls/pp/ppack.jump?p_null=all&p_psn=121&p_type=all&p_sci=comm&p_x=px (Accessed 16 October 2009).

Forster-Waldl E, Marchetti M, Scholl I, Focke M, et al. Type I allergy to elderberry (Sambucus nigra) is elicited by a 33.2 kDa allergen with significant homology to ribosomal inactivating proteins. Clin Exp Allergy 2003;33:1703-10. View abstract.

Frank T, Janssen M, Netzet G, Christian B, Bitsch I, Netzel M. Absorption and excretion of elderberry (Sambucus nigra L.) anthocyanins in healthy humans. Methods Find Exp Clin Pharmacol. 2007 Oct;29(8):525-33. View abstract.

Frank T, Sonntag S, Strass G, Bitsch I, Bitsch R, Netzel M. Urinary pharmacokinetics of cyanidin glycosides in healthy young men following consumption of elderberry juice. Int J Clin Pharmacol Res. 2005;25(2):47-56. View abstract.

Grbic J, Wexler I, Celenti R, et al. A phase II trial of a transmucosal herbal patch for the treatment of gingivitis. J Am Dent.Assoc. 2011;142:1168-75. View abstract.

Kong F. Pilot clinical study on a proprietary elderberry extract: efficacy in addressing influenza symptoms. Online Journal of Pharmacology and Pharmacokinetics 2009;5:32-43.

Kunitz S, Melton RJ, Updyke T, et al. Poisoning from elderberry juice. MMWR 1984;33:173-4.

Murkovic M. Abuja PM, Bergmann AR, et al. Effects of elderberry juice on fasting and postprandial serum lipids and low-density lipoprotein oxidation in healthy volunteers: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Eur J Clin Nutr 2004;58:244-9. View abstract.

No author. Leads from the MMWR. Poisoning from elderberry juice. JAMA 1984;251:2075. View abstract.

Pathol Health Sci 2016;8(2) 59-66.

Roschek B, Fink RC, McMichael MD, et al. Elderberry flavonoids bind to and prevent H1N1 infection in vitro. Phytochemistry 2009;70:1255-61. View abstract.

Samuels N, Grbic JT, Saffer AJ, et al. Effect of an herbal mouth rinse in preventing periodontal inflammation in an experimental gingivitis model: a pilot study. Compend.Contin.Educ.Dent. 2012;33:204-11. View abstract.

Schroder-Aasen T, Molden G, Nilsen OG. In vitro inhibition of CYP3A4 by the multiherbal commercial product Sambucus Force and its main constituents Echinacea purpurea and Sambucus nigra. Phytother Res 2012;26(11):1606-13. View abstract.

Tiralongo E, Wee SS, Lea RA. Elderberry Supplementation Reduces Cold Duration and Symptoms in Air-Travellers: A Randomized, Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial. Nutrients. 2016 Mar 24;8(4). pii: E182. View abstract.

Van Damme EJ, Roy S, Barre A, et al. The major elderberry (Sambucus nigra) fruit protein is a lectin derived from a truncated type 2 ribosome-inactivating protein. Plant J 1997;12:1251-60. View abstract.

Vlachojannis JE, Cameron M, Chrubasik S. A systematic review on the sambuci fructus effect and efficacy profiles. Phytother Res. 2010 Jan;24(1):1-8. View abstract.

Wu X, Cao G, Prior RL. Absorption and metabolism of anthocyanins in elderly women after consumption of elderberry or blueberry. J Nutr 2002;132:1865-71. View abstract.

Zakay-Rones Z, Thom E, Wollan T, Wadstein J. Randomized study of the efficacy and safety of oral elderberry extract in the treatment of influenza A and B virus infections. J Int Med Res 2004;32:132-40. View abstract.

Zakay-Rones Z, Varsano N, Zlotnik M, et al. Inhibition of several strains of influenza virus in vitro and reduction of symptoms by an elderberry extract (Sambucus nigra L.) during an outbreak of influenza B Panama. J Altern Complement Med 1995;1:361-9. View abstract.

CONTINUE SCROLLING FOR RELATED SLIDESHOW

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors