Elderberry Supplement

Updated | 2022-03-19

Written and reviewed by the NatureClaim Team

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Overview of Elderberry

Scientific Name: Sambucus nigra

Order: Dipsacales

Family: Adoxaceae

The elderberry (Sambucus nigra) plant is a medium-sized tree native to Europe and North America. Elderberry is sometimes called black elder because the fruits have a dark purple color. This color is due to the presence of anthocyanins, a type of flavonoid compound. Like many fruits, elderberries are high in vitamin C. More information on the nutritional content of this fruit can be found on the food nutrition facts page of elderberry. Only consume the flowers and ripe berries. Consuming other parts of the elderberry tree and unripe berries is toxic. The flowers are sometimes used in herbal medicine to make an elderberry tea. However, the berries are more commonly consumed for their medicinal properties. Elderberry supplements are most often sold in the form of gummies, syrups, or tinctures. Although not as common, elderberry juice can also be found in some stores. The anthocyanins and other flavonoids in elderberries may have immune stimulating properties, thereby reducing cold and flu-like symptoms. Oftentimes, elderberry gummies and elderberry syrups are in the same aisle as over-the-counter (OTC) cold and flu medications. Due to the antibacterial and antiviral activities of elderberry, this may explain why mouthwashes and gingival patches containing elderberries can treat gingivitis. Cold, flu, and gingivitis can cause an inflammatory response in the body. The flavonoids in elderberry may play a role in reducing inflammation because these compounds may lessen the effects of oxidative stress in the body. There is no evidence that elderberry can stimulate the immune system against SARS-CoV-2.



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  • Gingivitis, a mouthwash or gingival patch with elderberry / Centella asiatica / Echinacea pupurea may also be effective [1-4]
  • Immune Stimulant and Flu [5-7]

Conflicting (Unclear):

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Limited Evidence:

  • Acute Viral Sinusitis, elderberry flower with gentian root / primula flower / sorrel herb / verbena herb [8]
  • Constipation, elderberry with Pimpinella anisum / Foeniculum vulgare / Cassia augustifolia [9]

No Evidence:

  • Cardiovascular Disease in Post-Menopausal Women, no increase in anthocyanin compounds [10]
  • Cholesterol and Triglycerides (affects), a higher concentration of elderberry may work [11]
  • Stones in Urinary Tract [12]

No Clinical Research:

All other conditions.

Side Effects
Side effects may include:
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
Precautions and Adverse Events:
  • Avoid or contact a licensed healthcare practitioner, if you are a diabetic as elderberry may be harmful.
  • There is a risk of cyanide poisoning if the leaves, shoots, bark, roots, and young berries are ingested; symptoms may include dizziness, headache, convulsions, gastrointestinal distress, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and tachycardia.
  • Only harvest fully ripe purple berries because younger berries are slightly toxic.
  • Taking elderberry bark may stimulate hyperplasia of the small intestines.
  • A protein from elderberry may be an allergen.

Pregnant or Nursing

There is not enough research on the use of supplements containing elderberry during pregnancy and breast-feeding, so consult a licensed healthcare practitioner before use or avoid use. Elderberry may cause gastrointestinal upset in pregnant woman. [13-16]



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  • Iron


Elderberry is not a "drug", the best doses have not been thoroughly established. Make sure to follow the specific product instructions and take as directed on the label, or consult a licensed healthcare practitioner before use. However, it was reported that 500mg/day of elderberry did not alter liver and kidney functions. [18]


1. Grbic J, Wexler I, Celenti R, Altman J, Saffer A. A phase II trial of a transmucosal herbal patch for the treatment of gingivitis. J Am Dent Assoc. 2011 Oct;142(10):1168-75. 2. Levine WZ, Samuels N, Bar Sheshet ME, Grbic JT. A novel treatment of gingival recession using a botanical topical gingival patch and mouthrinse. J Contemp Dent Pract. 2013 Sep 1;14(5):948-53. 3. Samuels N, Grbic JT, Saffer AJ, Wexler ID, Williams RC. Effect of an herbal mouth rinse in preventing periodontal inflammation in an experimental gingivitis model: a pilot study. Compend Contin Educ Dent. 2012 Mar;33(3):204-6, 208-11. 4. Samuels N, Saffer A, Wexler ID, Oberbaum M. Localized reduction of gingival inflammation using site-specific therapy with a topical gingival patch. J Clin Dent. 2012;23(2):64-7. 5. 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 Apr-Jun;12(2):290-6. 6. 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 Mar-Apr;32(2):132-40. 7. Zakay-Rones Z, Varsano N, Zlotnik M, Manor O, Regev L, 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 Winter;1(4):361-9. 8. Jund R, Mondigler M, Steindl H, Stammer H, Stierna P, et al. Clinical efficacy of a dry extract of five herbal drugs in acute viral rhinosinusitis. Rhinology. 2012 Dec;50(4):417-26. 9. Picon PD, Picon RV, Costa AF, Sander GB, Amaral KM, et al. Randomized clinical trial of a phytotherapic compound containing Pimpinella anisum, Foeniculum vulgare, Sambucus nigra, and Cassia augustifolia for chronic constipation. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2010 Apr 30;10:17. 10. Curtis PJ, Kroon PA, Hollands WJ, Walls R, Jenkins G, 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 Dec;139(12):2266-71. 11. Murkovic M, Abuja PM, Bergmann AR, Zirngast A, Adam U, 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 Feb;58(2):244-9. 12. Walz B, Chrubasik S. Impact of a proprietary concentrate of Sambucus nigra L. on urinary pH. Phytother Res. 2008 Jul;22(7):977-8. 13. Fetrow CW, Avila JR. The complete guide to herbal medicines. Spring House, PA, USA: Springhouse Corporation; 2000. 14. Förster-Waldl E, Marchetti M, Schöll I, Focke M, Radauer C, 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 Dec;33(12):1703-10. 15. Gruenwald J, Brendler T, Jaenicke C, editors. PDR for herbal medicines. 4th ed. Montvale, NJ, USA: Thomson Healthcare; 2007. 16. Tsui B, Dennehy CE, Tsourounis C. A survey of dietary supplement use during pregnancy at an academic medical center. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2001 Aug;185(2):433-7. 17. Gruenwald J, Brendler T, Jaenicke C, editors. PDR for herbal medicines. 4th ed. Montvale, NJ, USA: Thomson Healthcare; 2007. 18. Curtis PJ, Kroon PA, Hollands WJ, Walls R, Jenkins G, 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 Dec;139(12):2266-71. 19. Afendi FM, Okada T, Yamazaki M, Hirai-Morita A, Nakamura Y, Nakamura K, Ikeda S, Takahashi H, Altaf-Ul-Amin M, Darusman LK, Saito K, Kanaya S. KNApSAcK family databases: integrated metabolite-plant species databases for multifaceted plant research. Plant Cell Physiol. 2012 Feb;53(2):e1.

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