(sambucus nigra)

Numerous species of elder or elderberry grow in Europe and North America. Only those with blue/black berries are medicinal. The flowers and berries are both used. Species with red berries are not medicinal.

Elderberries have long been used as food, particularly in the dried form. Elderberry wine, pie, and lemonade are some of the popular ways to prepare this plant as food. The leaves were touted by European herbalists to be pain relieving and to promote healing of injuries when applied as a poultice. Native American herbalists used the plant for infections, coughs, and skin conditions.

What it does

Elderberry and Elderflower have similar active compounds such as quercetin, anthocyanidins and other flavonoids which diaphoretic, diuretic and anti-inflammatory action. The flowers contain high levels of potassium, whilst the berries are rich in iron and Vitamin C.

Studies show that taking elderberry extract reduces the duration of influenza symptoms from an average of 6 days to 48 hours. It would also appear beneficial against non-flu viruses such as herpes and Epstein-Barr (associated with chronic fatigue syndrome or ME). This property of elderberry seems to primarily stem from an ability to inhibit a mechanism required for viral replication.

Potential Uses

Colds Flu Chronic fatigue syndrome

Other information

Elderflower is commonly found in cordials and if often combined with peppermint in traditional herbal remedies for chills and feverish colds.

Elderberry is often combined with other herbs or vitamins in preparations for colds and flu and immune boosting.


Generally, there are no side effects or contra-indications from using elderberry or elderflower.

At the time of writing there were no well known negative drug interactions with elderberry or elderflower.

Never eat unripe elderberries or the red varieties as these contain poisonous compounds.


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