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The Best Time to Take Elderberry As a Cold and Flu Remedy

Michael Gonzales
January 8, 2024
The Best Time to Take Elderberry As a Cold and Flu Remedy

Elderberry has recently become increasingly popular as a natural way to prevent colds and flus, with products available such as syrups, lozenges, capsules and teas containing it.

One study demonstrated that participants taking elderberry extract for one week experienced flu symptoms two days shorter on average compared to those given placebo. But when is the optimal time and dosage to take elderberry?


As winter sets in, now is an excellent time to consider using elderberry as a natural flu and cold remedy and immune booster. Lozenges, syrups and gummies containing elderberries have seen tremendous popularity as people look for ways to strengthen their immunity against colds and influenza.

Sambucus nigra fruits contain phytonutrients – plant antioxidants found in foods – such as anthocyanins that contribute to their deep purple-black hue and give elderberries their powerful anti-inflammatory effect. They’re also an excellent source of vitamin C, A, potassium and iron (2)

Studies have demonstrated that elderberry consumption helps shorten upper respiratory infections and ease their severity, as well as alleviate some flu symptoms. Furthermore, elderberries contain polyphenol flavonoids which have been shown to reduce stress levels, improve mood and support gut health (3).

Note that uncooked berries, leaves and bark contain cyanide toxins which may lead to nausea, vomiting and weakness (4). Cooking the berries before use or removing stems and branches reduces this risk (4). Elderberry supplements should generally be safe when taken in small doses but their use should not be recommended for children or adolescents under 18 years old or pregnant or lactating women (5).

Elderberry is an herb used for centuries to treat various health ailments. It’s widely sold as a cold remedy and clinical studies have demonstrated its efficacy at shortening symptoms while possibly decreasing influenza and colds in adults (6).

Elderberry should be taken when you suspect cold or flu symptoms to build, before becoming serious. You can also take elderberry daily as part of an overall preventative strategy for maintaining strong immunity throughout the year.

Elderberries can be grown successfully in USDA zones 4-9. To prepare elderberry plants for winter, prune and mulch them regularly to protect their shallow roots (8). Indoor growers must place them in an unheated garage or basement where temperatures don’t go above 40F (9). Supplemental watering during the winter for outdoor gardens (10). Indoor potted plants require more frequent watering to remain damp at all times (11).


Elderberries are a versatile perennial plant with multiple uses. Producing white clusters of flowers called cymes and dark purple berries, elderberries can be used medicinally to treat colds and flu symptoms like fever, sore throat, coughing up mucus, headaches and tiredness. Furthermore, elderberries may reduce inflammation as well as protect against bacteria and viruses; however there is limited scientific support supporting this claim.

Elderflowers can be harvested from your own garden or purchased from health food stores. With their mild, fruity flavor and similarities to blueberries, elderflowers make an ideal remedy for colds, flu and hayfever symptoms. Syrups and cordials made from them have traditionally been used as remedies; dried elderberries can even be dried for teas and tinctures if taken early enough in a cold’s progression. Taking elderberry supplements as soon as symptoms emerge can quickly alleviate them!

To grow elderberries successfully in your own garden, select an area with 6-8 hours of direct sunlight per day and 6-8 inches of rainfall. They are drought-tolerant but may struggle in extremely hot or dry environments. Elderberries can be planted alone or as groups; pairing up plants usually encourages cross-pollination more effectively.

Add rich, slightly acidic soil to the planting site for elderberries to thrive. Conduct a soil test to assess its pH level; once established, elderberries tend to thrive under various conditions and can grow in most USDA hardiness zones.

Maintaining healthy shrubs is vital to producing abundant harvests. Look out for fungal diseases like stem cankers, powdery mildew and root rot. Remove any dead or diseased parts to stop infection spreading further.

To propagate elderberry cuttings from cuttings, 4 inch pots filled with moistened potting soil should be used. Carefully place each cutting diagonally down into the soil ensuring at least one set of leaves are above the soil surface before firm tamping down and watering thoroughly. As its roots develop gradually increase container size accordingly.


Elderberries make an exceptional and nutritional addition to any garden. The fruits are an excellent source of Vitamin C, iron and phosphorous; their flavonoids help fight viral infections; these supplements are used widely as cold/flu remedies and natural treatments for arthritis/asthma symptoms as well as flower arrangements or to make antiviral syrup. Plus, elderberry flowers and fruit can even be preserved using wine-making or brandy making processes!

Plants can thrive in either full sun or partially shaded spots, depending on your preference. To encourage fruit bearing, prune your dormant plants during winter. Furthermore, layering mulch helps preserve moisture and eliminate weeds while protecting your plants.

One of the advantages of elderberry plants is their ease of cultivation from seed, but selecting appropriate seed varieties and pollination needs can be challenging. Check with local nurseries or cooperative extension services for guidance in selecting fruiting seeds that produce fruits.

Elderberries must first be cooked before being consumed as raw berries contain toxic amounts of cyanogenic glycosides that can be toxic in high doses; cooking destroys these chemicals and allows us to enjoy this immune boosting fruit. Elderberry extract supplements are often taken at the first sign of illness; however it’s beneficial to regularly take this herb in order to build immune strength and resistance over time. When taking any herbal remedies consult a healthcare professional first to ensure safety.


Elderberry belongs to the Adoxaceae family and has long been utilized as a medicinal plant. While its berries and roots may be toxic, its flowers, bark and twigs are used in herbal medicine – often taken in syrup or supplement form to treat cold and flu symptoms.

Elderberries contain antiviral compounds that bind to flu and cold viruses to stop them from replicating, as well as antioxidants which reduce oxidative stress in the body and trigger inflammation – one of the leading causes of heart disease and high blood pressure. By soothing inflammation with antivirals such as these elderberries can provide cardiovascular support and strengthen immunity.

Dried berries can be used to make a tasty syrup or to add flavor to your favorite recipes, while elderberries can add color and sweetness to salads, stews, or soup. But it is essential that they be properly prepared; soft but sweet with just the right balance between sweetness and firm texture is ideal; stems and leaves should not be consumed as these contain toxic substances which could compromise their nutritional value.

Elderberry should be harvested and pruned during fall for maximum harvesting and crop improvement. A common way to prune Sambucus plants is to cut back branches that produce fruit while leaving healthy, year-old shoots unpruned; you can identify these year-old shoots by their smooth light grey bark that is rounded at their tips.

Elderberry supplements can be taken at any time of year; however, many individuals prefer starting in autumn and continuing through winter in order to remain healthy. Regular elderberry consumption helps strengthen your immune system so that when illness strikes it’s easier for you to fight off illness effectively.

If you want to incorporate elderberry supplements into your daily life, there are various sources available online and at health food stores. Find one formulated specifically for adults or children and adhere to any dosage recommendations on its label. If there is any concern that any potential interactions exist between medications that you already take and elderberry supplements, talk with your healthcare provider.


  • 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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