- What other names is Elderberry known by?
- What is Elderberry?
- How does Elderberry work?
- Are there safety concerns?
- Are there any interactions with medications?
- Dosing considerations for Elderberry.
Elderberry is used for the common cold, "the flu" (influenza), and H1N1 "swine" flu. It is also used for HIV/AIDS and boosting the immune system. Elderberry is also used for sinus pain, back and leg pain (sciatica), nerve pain (neuralgia), and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).
Some people use elderberry for hay fever (allergic rhinitis), cancer, as a laxative for constipation, to increase urine flow, and to cause sweating.
It is used for heart disease, high cholesterol, headache, toothache, and weight loss.
Elderberry is applied inside the mouth for gum inflammation.
Elderberry fruit is also used for making wine and as a food flavoring.
Possibly Effective for...
- "The flu," also called influenza. A specific syrup containing elderberry juice (Sambucol by Nature's Way) seems to relieve flu symptoms and reduce the length of time the flu lasts when taken by mouth within 48 hours of the first symptoms. Other research shows that taking elderberry lozenges (ViraBLOC by HerbalScience) within 24 hours of the first symptoms also reduces flu symptoms. Relief seems to occur within 2 to 4 days of treatment for most people.
Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...
- Heart disease. Early research shows that taking elderberry extract daily for 12 weeks does not reduce risk factors for heart disease in postmenopausal women.
- The common cold. Early research shows that taking a specific type of elderberry extract (BerryPharma, Iprona AG, Lana BZ, Italy) for 10 days before and up to 5 days after arriving at an overseas travel destination does not prevent colds from developing. However it does seem to shorten the duration of colds and reduce cold symptoms.
- Gum inflammation (gingivitis). Early research shows that using a mouth rinse (HM-302, Izun Pharmaceuticals, New York, NY) or mouth patches (PerioPatch, Izun Pharmaceuticals, New York, NY) containing elderberry, echinacea, and gotu kola prevents gingivitis from worsening. However, it doesn't seem to improve symptoms.
- High cholesterol. Early research shows that taking capsules containing dried elderberry three times daily for 2 weeks does not reduce cholesterol levels in people with high cholesterol.
- Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).
- H1N1 "swine" flu.
- Hay fever.
- Nerve pain.
- Other conditions.
Quick Guide10 Foods to Eat When You Have the Flu in Pictures
Elderberry is POSSIBLY UNSAFE when the leaves, stems, unripened fruit, or uncooked fruit is consumed. The cooked elderberry fruit seems to be safe, but raw and unripe fruit might cause nausea, vomiting, or severe diarrhea.
Special Precautions & Warnings:Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Not enough is known about the safety of using elderberry during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.
"Autoimmune diseases" such as multiple sclerosis (MS), lupus (systemic lupus erythematosus, SLE), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), or other conditions: Elderberry might cause the immune system to become more active, and this could increase the symptoms of autoimmune diseases. If you have one of these conditions, it's best to avoid using elderberry.
Medications that decrease the immune system (Immunosuppressants)
Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.
Elderberry can increase the immune system. Taking elderberry along with some medications that decrease the immune system might decrease the effectiveness of medications that decrease the immune system.
Some medications that decrease the immune system include azathioprine (Imuran), basiliximab (Simulect), cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune), daclizumab (Zenapax), muromonab-CD3 (OKT3, Orthoclone OKT3), mycophenolate (CellCept), tacrolimus (FK506, Prograf), sirolimus (Rapamune), prednisone (Deltasone, Orasone), corticosteroids (glucocorticoids), and others.
- The flu: One tablespoon (15 mL) of a specific elderberry juice-containing syrup (Sambucol by Nature's Way) has been taken four times daily for 3-5 days. Also, a specific lozenge (ViraBLOC by HerbalScience) containing 175 mg of elderberry extract has been taken four times daily for 2 days.
- The flu: One tablespoon (15 mL) of a specific elderberry juice-containing syrup (Sambucol by Nature's Way) has been taken twice daily for 3 days.
Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).
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Cold and Flu Resources
Last Editorial Review: 3/29/2011