Elderberry has been used as a natural remedy for centuries. It is native to Europe and Asia but can be found in many other places around the world, such as North America. The plant grows on bushes that are usually 1-2 meters high and produce white flowers and blackberries. Elderberry comes from the Sambucus nigra L plant family, which includes plants like blueberries and green tea.
The fruit of the elderberry bush has been known for its health benefits since ancient times; Hippocrates himself mentioned it in his writings. The first recorded usage was by Pliny the Elder, who wrote extensively about remedies derived from plants, including elderberry.
This article provides information on the health benefits, risks, effectiveness, and uses of elderberry wellness products.
Elderberry Health Benefits
The berries and flowers of elderberry have been used to treat a variety of health conditions in traditional medicine.
Elderberry is most commonly recognized for its use as a flu treatment and prevention. However, it has also been used in Europe since the 1950s for respiratory infections such as bronchitis or pneumonia. Elderberries have antioxidant properties that may help reduce inflammation from exercise-induced muscle damage. There is preliminary evidence that elderberry may help reduce pain in people with osteoarthritis.
Elderberry Health Risks
There are no known risks associated with elderberries. Both the berries and flowers can be consumed as food or medicine. However, some people may experience allergic reactions to these plants. Elderberries have been shown to decrease blood pressure in animal studies, but there is insufficient evidence for this effect in humans. Pregnant or breastfeeding people should avoid consuming large amounts of elderberries due to a lack of research on safety during pregnancy and lactation.
People who take medications that suppress the immune system (such as chemotherapy drugs) should not consume elderberries because they could increase their risk of infection by decreasing immune function. Elderly adults might want to speak with their primary care doctor before taking an unregulated herbal supplement like elderberry.
Elderberry Uses and Effectiveness
Evidence from a well-designed clinical study is needed to conclusively determine the effectiveness of elderberries for people who have colds or flu. There is evidence that elderberries may help reduce pain in people with osteoarthritis, but further research using high-quality methods is still required. It would be helpful to conduct studies on children as infants can be prone to respiratory infections due to weaker immune systems. Elderberry has not been studied enough yet in pregnant women or breastfeeding mothers, so it’s best not to take this herbal supplement until more information becomes available.
Elderberry Side Effects and Interactions
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved the use of elderberries for any medicinal purpose, while some countries authorize its sale as a dietary supplement or natural health product to support respiratory tract health. It can be taken orally—as an infusion made by steeping dried flowers or berries in hot water, or as syrup prepared from fresh berries cooked into jam-like consistency with sugar—or applied topically on skin infections such as cold sores caused by herpes simplex virus type I (HSV-I). Elderflowers are also used to make tea when consumed, can reduce muscle pain.
Elderberry Dosage and Administration
The typical dose of elderberries is about 50 to 100 g (g = gram/s) per day, which may be steeped in water or boiled into a tea that can then be cooled before use. Elderflower oil can also be applied topically on the skin for cold sores caused by HSV-I. There are no well-known drug interactions associated with taking elderberry supplements. However, it’s important to speak with your doctor if you have any pre-existing conditions or risk factors when considering adding an herbal supplement like this one to your daily routine.