Scientists Confirm That Elderberry Beats the Flu, Prevents Colds and Strengthens the Immune System

Are you looking for a natural remedy that has an extremely long history in medicinal use? There is evidence that the elderberry might have been cultivated all the way back to the prehistoric man.

There are also recipes for elderberry-based medicines dating back to Ancient Egypt. However, most historians typically trace its healing properties back to Hippocrates, the ancient Greek known as the ‘father of medicine’, who described this plant as his ‘medicine chest’ because it has a plethora of health concerns that it might cure.

Whether we are talking about cavemen, ancient Egyptians or ancient Greeks, the fact that this natural remedy goes way back indeed is no surprise that it is known as one of the best antiviral herbs on the planet throughout history.

Some health benefits of the elder plant include naturally improving colds, the flu, nerve pain, inflammation, sinus problems, allergies, constipation, chronic fatigue and even cancer. When used within the first 48 hours of the occurring of symptoms, the extract has been found to reduce the duration of the flu along with its symptoms being relieved in an average of four days.

During the Panama flu epidemic in 1995, the government employed the use of elderberry in order to fight the flu.It gets even better.

When it comes to antioxidant power, elderberry is higher that flavonoids such as blueberries, cranberries, blackberries and goji berries. Let us examine below why this has so much health benefits.

8 Health Benefits of Elderberry

Major Cold and Flu Relief

Elderberry are an excellent immune system booster. They contain a chemical compound known as anthocyanidins, which are known to have the effect of stimulating the immune system.

Elderberry extract has been shown that it is a safe, efficient and cost-effective treatment for both flu and cold symptoms.A study back in 2016 published by ‘Nutrients’ showed that elderberry supplementation can reduce the duration and symptoms of cold in air travelers.

Other travelers using this herb for about 10 days before traveling up four or five days after arriving at their destination overseas experienced an average of two-day shorter duration of their colds and a noticeable reduction of cold symptoms.

There have been several studies that have demonstrated that the extract from elderberries is extremely effective to mitigate the flu-like symptoms. Particularly, the flavonoids in the elderberry extract bind to the H1N1 human influenza virus as well as the H5N1 avian influenza virus.

A study back in 2009 had random patients split into two groups; the first group was given four doses of 175 milligrams proprietary elderberry extract daily and the other group received placebo daily for two days.

The group treated with the extract showed significant improvement in most flu symptoms while the placebo group had no improvement whatsoever or an increase in the severity of symptoms. Thus, the researchers concluded that the extract is highly effective in controlling influenza symptoms.

Another study published in the Journal of International Medical Research showed that once the extract is used within 48 hours of the onset of flu symptoms, it shortens the duration of the symptoms by an average of four days.

Sinus Infection Aid

With the highly powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, it makes sense for the elderberry to help with sinus problems. A sinus infection is a condition in which the cavities around the nasal passage become inflamed and this antiviral herb is a perfect natural remedy for sinus infection.

There was a study conducted by the Institute of Complementary Medicine Department of Internal Medicine at the University Hospital in Zurich, Switzerland. They examined the use of a proprietary product, Sinupret, which contains elderberry flowers.

The researchers used Sinupret to treat bacterial sinusitis in addition with an antibiotic, doxycycline or vibramycin, and a decongestant. People who took the combination were way better compared to those who did not take Sinupret at all.

Lower Blood Sugar

Both the berry and the flower have traditionally been used to treat diabetes over the past. Researchers confirmed that the extracts of elderflower stimulate glucose in the metabolism and the secretion of insulin, overall lowering the blood sugar levels.

A research published in the Journal of Nutrition evaluated the black elderberry’s insulin-like and insulin-releasing actions in vitro. They found out that an aqueous oxidation and glycogenesis without any added insulin.

Glycogenesis is a process by which excess sugar is cleared out of the bloodstream and directed towards your liver and muscles, thus effectively maintaining normal blood sugar

Natural Diuretic

Elder has been shown to boost both urination and bowel movements. Studies have indicated that the elderberry or Sambucus has natural diuretic effects. Diuretic is a substance that promotes the production of urine.

Doctors prescribe diuretics when the body is retaining a high quantity of fluids which is a common issue in older adults.

Natural Laxative

Elderberry might also help with constipation. A small, randomized trial looked thoroughly at the compound commonly used in Brazil in order to treat constipation.

The compound contains elderberry. The results of the study indicate that the elder-centric remedy is an extremely effective natural laxative for treating constipation.

Unfortunately however, there are currently no studies isolating the elderberry itself for relief of constipation so more research is needed.

Encouraging healthy skin

Elderberry has made its way into cosmetic products and for a good reason. The bioflavonoids and antioxidants it contains, along with the high content of vitamin A, make it extremely beneficial for the skin.

Researchers suspect that a compound found in the elderberry is a reason for the natural boost to the skin.

Helps with Allergies

The flowers of the elder plant are known to be an extremely effective herbal allergy remedy. Since allergies involve an overreaction of the immune system, such as inflammation, the elderberry’s ability to improve the immune system and calm inflammation will help to provide allergy relief.

Some herbalists put black elder flower on the list of most effective herbs to treat fever-like symptoms. It can also be used for allergies on its own or in a combination with other herbs.

Elderflower is said to act as a detoxification agent by enhancing the function of the liver.

May Help To Prevent Cancer

Edible berry extracts such as the elderberry extract have an abundance of anthocyanins and have been shown to have a wide spectrum of pharmacologic, therapeutic and anti-carcinogenic properties.

Laboratory studies specifically indicate that the elderberry has some chemopreventive properties. The inhibition of chemopreventive properties actually delays and can even reverse the formation of cancer.

A study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food compared the anticancer properties of European and American elderberry fruits. The European elderberry, Sambucus nigra, is known for its medicinal use and contains anthocyanins, flavonoids and other polyphenolics which all contribute to the high-antioxidant capacity of the berries.

The American elderberry, Sambucuscanadensis, has not been grown or promoted as a medicinal plant like its European relative.The study took extracts from both berries and tested them out to access their anticancer potential.

Both of the extracts demonstrated significant chemopreventive potential. In addition, the American elder extract showed inhibition of ornithine decarboxylase, which is an enzyme marker relation to promotion stage of cancer formation.

These findings show promise as potential natural cancer treatments.

How to Use Elderberry

Elderberry can be purchased in many forms at your local health or drug store or even online.

14 Ways to Consume Elderberry:

  • Tea
  • Wine
  • Juice
  • Jelly and jams
  • Syrup
  • Ointments
  • Astringent
  • Infusions
  • Sprays
  • Lozenges
  • Pills
  • Liquid
  • Powder
  • Capsules

When it comes to flu, colds and upper respiratory problems, the elderberry syrup is extremely popular. There are high-quality brands that are available for purchase or you can try to make your own.

If so, then follow this recipe:

Homemade Elderberry Syrup


  • 5 cups cold water
  • 2 cups organic dried elderberries
  • 1 tablespoon fresh or dried organic ginger root
  • 1 teaspoon organic cinnamon powder or 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 cup raw honey


  • Pour water into a saucepan and add elderberries, ginger and cinnamon.
  • Bring mixture to a boil.
  • Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for about 40–45 minutes or until the liquid has reduced by about half.
  • Remove from heat and mash the berries.
  • Pour through a strainer or cheesecloth into a glass bowl. If you use a cheesecloth, make sure to squeeze out the juice.
  • Add honey and stir until well-combined.
  • Bottle final product in a sterilized glass container.

Another great option you can try is the elderberry tea. You can either buy teabags or you can buy dried berries or flowers and make a tea by mixing one tablespoon of berries or flowers with eight ounces of water.

If you are not a fan of tea, then you can try elderberry juice, which is tart, sweet and refreshing. Just watch out you don’t buy the one that has too much added sugars.

What Is Elderberry

Sambucus is a genius of a flowering plants in the Adoxaceae family. The different species of Sambucus are more commonly called as elderberry or elder.

The berries and the flowers of the elder plant are used as medicine. Elderberry is native to Africa, Europe and parts of Asia, but it has become common in the US as well. It has deciduous leaves, white flowers, hence the name elderflower, and berries that turn from green to red to black when ripe.

Elder is commonly found growing in hedgerows and woodlands.Sambucus nigra is the full scientific name of the most common variety used for medical purposes.

Sambucus ngira is the species on which the majority of scientific research has been conducted. It has a deciduous tree growing up to 32 feet tall with cream-white flowers and blue-black berries.

Other common names for Sambucus nigra are black elder, European elder, European elderberry and European black elderberry. The elderberry bush or elderberry tree grows the berries commonly used in syrups, wine and jams, in addition to the medicinal and culinary delights.

European elder flowers contain around 0.3 percent of the essential oil composed of free fatty acids and alkanes. The triterpenes alpha and beta – amyrin, ursolic acid, oleanolic acid, botulin and betulinic acid and a plethora of other minor components have been identifies as well.

Elderberry fruit contains quercetin, kaempferal, rutin, phenolic acids and anthocyanins. The elderberry, as menation before, also contains flavonoids, which have antioxidant properties helping to prevent cellular damage and anthocyanidins, which are chemical compounds known to have a stimulant effect on the immune system.

The raw berries are made up of about 80 percent water, 18 percent carbohydrates and less than 1 percent of each protein and fat. Elderberries are naturraly abundant with vitamins C, A, B6, iron, potassium and other essential nutrients.

History of Elderberry

Historically, elderberry is known as a cure-all and has been called the ‘medicine chest of country people’.

The Romans created hair dye from the juice. The wood of the elderberry tree is fine-grained so it is easily polished and has been used historically to make combs, toys, skewers for butchers, pegs for shoemakers and needles for weaving musical instruments.

Native Americans used to plant for healing through foods, beverages, charms, inks, dyes, body paint, jewelry, medicines, ceremonial items, hunting whistles and musical instruments.

During the 1995 Panama flu epidemic, the government employed the use of elderberry to fight the flu and it greatly reduced the time of the flue as well as the severity, thus ending the epidemic.

Elderberry Precautions and Possible Interactions

Ripe, cooked berries of most of the Sambucus species are edible. However, you shouldn’t consume raw berries or other parts of the plant since they contain a cyanide inducing chemicals.

Eating uncooked berries can result in vomiting and diarrhea. Generally, commercial preparations don’t cause adverse reactions at recommended dosages.

Occasionally, elderflowers and elderberries can cause allergic reactions. Stop using them if you have a mild allergic reaction and seek medical attention if you have a serious allergic reaction.

Do not give the elderberry products to a child before consulting your pediatrician. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, do not take it.

If you have an autoimmune disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis, ask your doctor before taking elderberry because it might stimulate the immune system. If you have some other ongoing health concerns, speak to your doctor before taking elderberry.

People with organ transplants should not take elderberry as well.Elderberry appears to have a few unwanted side effects even when used properly, but only for a short amount of time, usually up to five days.

If you are currently taking any of the following medications, ask your doctor if you should take any elder plant products.

  • Diabetes medications
  • Diuretics (water pills)
  • Chemotherapy
  • Immune-suppressing drugs, including corticosteroids (prednisone), and medications used to treat autoimmune diseases
  • Laxatives
  • Theophylline (TheoDur)

Elderberry Final Thoughts

  • Elderberry has been shown to seriously fight the common cold as well as the flu. Science has backed this as it showed that it can shorten the flu symptoms by an average of four days
  • When taken properly, it usually has no side effects. In fact, researchers say that it has a low cost, lacks any side effects and its clinical results make it an important tool for fighting off the flu.
  • There are a number of options when it comes to how you can consume the elderberries, from tea to juice and jam.
  • One of the most popular ways to take elderberry, especially for the cold of the flu, is a syrup is relatively easy to make at home.
  • It is also shown that it helps to lower blood sugar levels and easy allergies
  • It has a pleasant berry flavor and most people find it easy to take elder plant products
  • When it comes to cancer, research is showing its potential ability to fight cancer and hopefully more research will soon follow.

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