March 21, 2017


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 to treat many issues. It’s mostly used for rheumatic pains. Elderberry is also used to treat colds and the flu.

Elderberry contains naturally occurring antioxidants and vitamin C. It also contains phenolic compounds, such as flavonoids. These are believed to be antiviral. They may also help treat the common cold.

Medically valid uses

At this time, there are no 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 show that elderberry may slightly improve flu symptoms. But the evidence wasn’t strong. More studies are needed to know if there’s a benefit.

Elder flower water is also used in lotions. It’s a mild astringent.

Elderberry is said to help treat rheumatism, headaches, colds, constipation, and neuralgia. It may also aid in urinary and kidney problems, epilepsy, scarlet fever, and measles. When you apply it to your skin, it may reduce inflammation, bruising, and sprains.

Dosing format

Elderberry can be made into a broth or soup. You can do this by mixing a couple ounces of elderberry syrup into hot water. It can also be given as a tea, wine, infusion, decoction, or tincture. It also comes as an oral capsule.

Side effects, toxicity, and interactions

Uncooked or unripe elderberries can cause nausea and vomiting.

You shouldn’t take more than the recommended dosage.

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

Elderberry may act as a diuretic. If you take medicines that increase urination, talk to your healthcare provider before using elderberry.

There are no known food or drug interactions linked with elderberry.


March 21, 2017

Reviewed By:  

Poulson, Brittany, RD,Wilkins, Joanna, R.D., C.D.