Botanical name(s):

Sambucus canadensis, S. nigra, S. racemosa, S. ebulus. Family: Caprifoliaceae

Other name(s):

black elder, European elder, elder flower, sambucas

General description

The juice from the berries of the elder tree is used in the treatment of many ailments, particularly rheumatic pains. Elderberry is also used to treat colds and influenza.

Elderberry contains naturally occurring antioxidants, vitamin C, and phenolic compounds such as flavonoids that are believed to be antiviral and useful in treating the common cold.

Medically valid uses

Currently, there are no documented valid medical uses for elderberry.

Unsubstantiated claims

Please note that this section reports on claims that have NOT yet been substantiated through scientific studies.

A few small studies showed that elderberry slightly improved symptoms of influenza, but the evidence was not strong, and more study is needed to confirm that there is a benefit.

Elder flower water is also used in lotions as a mild astringent.

Elderberry is claimed to be useful in the treatment of rheumatism, headaches, colds, constipation, neuralgia, urinary/kidney problems, epilepsy, scarlet fever, and measles. When applied externally, elderberry is thought to help reduce inflammation, bruising, and sprains.

Dosing format

Elderberry can be made into a broth or soup by mixing a couple ounces of elderberry syrup into hot water. It can also be administered as a tea, wine, infusion, decoction, or tincture. It is also available as a capsule.

Side effects, toxicity, and interactions

Uncooked or unripe elderberries can cause nausea and vomiting.

Do not take more than the recommended dosage.

Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not use elderberry preparations.

Elderberry may act as a diuretic, so use caution if taking it with other drugs that increase urination.

There are no known significant food or drug interactions associated with elderberry.

Additional information

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