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Is Elderberry Good For Colds and Flu?

Michael Gonzales
September 13, 2023

Fall is an amazing season to experience the vibrant hues of leaves and berries while strengthening your immune system against cold and flu symptoms. Elderberry is one of the many natural remedies that can help ward off these unpleasant conditions.

Elderberry can provide additional benefits to help ensure you remain healthy this winter season, alongside sleep, hand washing and receiving annual flu shots.


Elderberries contain not only vitamins and minerals, but they’re also chock-full of health-promoting phytochemicals like flavonoids, phenolic acids and anthocyanins – all which may help combat oxidative stress that increases your risk for chronic disease.

Elderberry contains powerful antioxidants to support your immune system in fighting off viral illnesses. Packed with vitamin C and anthocyanins – natural anti-inflammatory compounds – elderberry may help your body combat infections; however it should be noted that elderberry cannot provide a complete cure. At most it may help alleviate symptoms and shorten illness duration.

Elderberry contains hemagglutinin, a protein which may protect healthy cells by blocking access for viruses to infiltrate and release enzymes which cause symptoms.

Elderberry can aid in the fight against influenza and colds by hindering neuraminidase enzymes that contribute to infection (6). Neuraminidase enzymes allow viruses such as flu and cold viruses to infiltrate cells quickly before spreading further (6). Elderberry can prevent their activity, providing another means of break the cycle of infection (6).

Elderberry may help in treating colds and flu, but for optimal protection it’s still wise to get an annual influenza vaccine. Furthermore, speaking to your physician before adding supplements such as elderberry may also be useful, particularly if you suffer from an autoimmune condition or are taking chemotherapy drugs. In addition, raw unripe elderberries and products made from their branches, leaves or bark (which contain toxic substances called “cyanogenic glycosides”) should be avoided as these may contain potentially toxic levels that could make you ill – including syrups teas gummies lozenges etc – should all be avoided as these contain toxic amounts of toxic compounds called “cyanogenic glycosides” which could make people ill as they contain toxic amounts of these harmful chemicals which could make pregnant or nursing mothers ill as pregnant or nursing mothers do.


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, inflammation is one of the primary reasons people become sick. Antioxidants have been found to effectively combat inflammation within our bodies and thus help alleviate cold and flu symptoms by decreasing inflammation levels in our bodies. One effective method for decreasing inflammation levels is through consumption of foods and supplements rich in antioxidants like elderberry.

Research has proven that taking elderberry extract can shorten the duration of cold and flu symptoms significantly. A small randomized placebo-controlled study demonstrated this fact by showing those taking elderberry syrup experienced less severe symptoms with shorter illness times compared with those who did not consume this supplement.

Elderberry contains numerous immunity-enhancing nutrients and flavonoids with powerful anti-inflammatory effects, including anthocyanidins and polyphenols with anti-oxidant capabilities that help remove free radicals from your body, which is crucial given oxidative stress can contribute to many diseases as well as accelerate aging processes.

Elderberry’s medicinal benefits have generated much hype as an herbal remedy. People are buying elderberry syrup, gummies and capsules as attempts to prevent or treat colds and flu symptoms – however there is not sufficient evidence supporting claims that elderberry can prevent or cure either colds or flu symptoms. A better way to stay well would be washing hands frequently with soap, staying away from people who may be contagious as well as getting vaccinated against influenza and getting an annual flu shot.

Elderberry has long been used in traditional medicine, however more research needs to be conducted before definitive conclusions can be reached on its effectiveness and potential adverse reactions from its consumption can arise. Therefore it’s wise to consult a Banner healthcare provider prior to adding elderberry products into your diet.


Cold and flu season is upon us, and pharmacy shelves are full of products designed to bolster immunity like cough syrup, lozenges, gummies and immunity juice shots. Elderberry has become increasingly popular as an alternative treatment for colds and flu. But does elderberry really work?

Sambucus nigra (commonly referred to as Sambucus nigra) is an edible purple fruit packed with vitamin C and antioxidants such as anthocyanidins – pigments responsible for their deep hue – that provide key health benefits to strengthen our immune systems and maintain overall wellness. No wonder Hippocrates, considered it as a powerful natural remedy.

Researchers have proven that elderberry has antiviral properties, helping shorten the duration of colds and flu symptoms such as fever, headaches, nasal congestion, and mucous discharge. A randomized controlled trial with sixty adults found those taking elderberry extract within 48 hours of developing cold or flu symptoms experienced shorter duration and fewer symptoms compared with those in a placebo group.

Researchers suspect the antiviral effects of elderberry stem from multiple mechanisms. One is that flavonoids present in elderberries bind with proteins found on virus surfaces, thus blocking entry and reproduction within cells. Another strategy may involve activating your own cell’s virus-fighting antibodies.

Though more research needs to be conducted, these preliminary results are encouraging. Incorporating more fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin C and antioxidants into your diet this fall. In addition, make sure that you wash your hands often, avoid people who are sick, get a flu shot if possible and practice healthy sleeping habits in order to prevent germ spread and remain healthy yourself.


Elderberries contain anthocyanidins which have antibacterial properties. This means they can help your cells combat free radicals which cause oxidative stress in the body – something which over time could damage tissues and increase susceptibility to disease as well as decrease metabolism.

One small study revealed that elderberry extract (Sambucol) significantly shortens the duration of flu symptoms by approximately three days compared to prescription antiviral medications approved by the FDA; making Sambucol an invaluable addition to your cold and flu prevention routine.

Elderberry has also been demonstrated to decrease both the frequency and severity of sinus infections due to its ability to reduce inflammation in the sinuses, which leads to congestion and other symptoms.

Elderberry may increase your immune system activity, so if you suffer from any autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis or lupus (systemic lupus erythematosus, SLE), or are taking medications which reduce immunity, elderberry should not be consumed without first consulting with a Banner healthcare provider first.

Elderberry has been touted as a miracle cure during the coronavirus pandemic, though more research needs to be conducted before being proven effective. Meanwhile, other proven strategies for avoiding and treating colds or flu-like symptoms remain effective: get plenty of sleep, wash hands regularly, avoid sick people and make sure you get an annual flu vaccination shot.

Boosts Immune System

Elderberry syrup has made a comeback this season on social media and moms’ groups, and for good reason: its natural properties can shorten cold and flu symptoms and ease upper respiratory infections, as well as having long been used as medicine against viral reactivation, thus decreasing cold/flu-like episodes.

Recent research demonstrates that elderberry extract may actually prevent influenza in humans. Researchers are exploring its mechanism of action; one theory holds that elderberry may inhibit an enzyme involved in flu virus life cycle by hindering its ability to interact with host cell receptors (2)

Elderberry extract has also been shown to increase cellular levels of T-Lymphocytes – white blood cells responsible for attacking viruses and bacteria that invade our bodies – animal studies have demonstrated this fact, showing it can significantly boost lymphocyte counts in their bodies and thus decrease incidences of colds or flu-like symptoms.

As with any dietary supplements, elderberry should only be added to your family’s routine with advice from your physician first. This is especially crucial if either yourself or your children have preexisting health conditions and require ongoing treatment. Always purchase professional grade laboratory tested supplements as these will contain adequate phytonutrient levels that are safe to take long term. Those looking to incorporate elderberry into their diet should find high quality tincture or syrup that can be mixed with hot water before drinking for maximum immune boosting benefits.


  • Michael Gonzales

    Michael has a diverse set of skills and passions, with a full-time career as an airline pilot and a dedicated focus on health and fitness consulting. He understands the importance of balancing a busy lifestyle with maintaining a healthy mind and body, and is committed to helping others achieve the same success. Michael's expertise in health and fitness is not just limited to physical training, but also extends to nutrition, stress management, and overall wellbeing. He takes a holistic approach to health and fitness, helping clients to achieve their goals in a sustainable and fulfilling way. With a strong desire to inspire and motivate others, Michael is always ready to share his time and knowledge with those who seek his guidance. Whether in the air or on the ground, Michael is dedicated to helping others live their best lives.

    https://www.linkedin.com/in/michael-gonzales-07bb4b31/ [email protected] Gonzales Michael


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