Protection from elderberries? – healing practice

Health Benefits of Elderberry

The cold season is just around the corner and effective home remedies to relieve coughs and runny nose are in demand. Elderberry in particular is said to help against colds and flu. Experts from the Cleveland Clinic (USA) explain why elderberry products have become so popular and whether they are really as healthy and effective as they are said to be.

Elderberry is rich in antioxidants

Elderberry is a rich source of antioxidants and is now used, for example, in cough syrup and lozenges. But the use of elderberries is by no means new. Elderberry extract has been used in medicine for centuries to fight infections, clear the complexion and strengthen the immune system, experts at the Cleveland Clinic said in a recent edition Press release.

Interesting facts about elderberries

Elderberries come from a type of tree known as sambucus. The European elder, also known as Sambucus nigra or black elder, is the most common tree in this family. The berries and flowers of these trees are edible, but elderberries must first be cooked before they can be consumed. When uncooked, elderberries are poisonous and can cause diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea.

Use of elderberries

In addition to treating colds and flu, dietary supplements containing elderberry are also used to treat various health problems, according to experts. These include:

  • Chronic fatigue syndrome,
  • Constipation,
  • Hay fever,
  • Headache,
  • high cholesterol,
  • Sinus infections,
  • Sciatica,
  • Toothache,
  • Upper respiratory tract infections.

Products with elderberries

Elderberries are used, for example, in food supplements, gummy bears and syrups, lozenges, capsules and liquid herbal preparations that can be mixed with water. Elderberry tea is also popular and you can make elderberry jelly yourself from the berries, according to the experts at the Cleveland Clinic. Dried elderberries are also well suited as an ingredient in baked goods.

Elderberries are not very sweet and have a tart, earthy taste. A great way to consume them, be it to combine them with sweeter fruits such as peaches, plums or figs. The taste of the berries also goes well with oranges, lemons and honey.

Health Benefits of Elderberries?

According to a statement from the Cleveland Clinic, elderberries are believed to benefit health by:

  • lower the cholesterol level,
  • reduce the risk of cancer,
  • reduce the risk of heart disease,
  • lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes,
  • Relieve inflammation.

It is often assumed that elderberries are the strengthen your immune system, but so far there is no sufficient scientific evidence for this.

Shorter flu thanks to elderberry extract?

The results of the study so far have further increased the interest in elderberries. One study have shown, for example, that elderberry extracts reduce the duration of the flu by four days compared to a placebo. However, recent research suggests that elderberry isn’t effective at reducing the severity or duration of flu symptoms, the team said.

So last got one study from last year under the direction of Professor Dr. Michael Macknin of the Cleveland Clinic studies the usefulness of elderberry in treating people with influenza B. Influenza A and B are the two main types that cause seasonal flu epidemics.

The study looked at 87 people aged five and over who tested positive for influenza or flu between January 2018 and April 2019. Only 33 percent of those taking part in the study had received a flu shot. Participants had two or more of the following symptoms: body pain, chills, cough, fatigue, headache, nasal congestion, or sore throat.

All participants were randomly given either an elderberry extract or a placebo for five days. In addition, there was the option of taking the antiviral drug oseltamivir (Tamiflu). Participants aged five to twelve received a placebo or 15 ml (5.7 g) elderberry extract orally twice a day for five days. By contrast, people over the age of twelve received 15 ml of elderberry extract four times a day for five days.

Conflicting results with other studies

The results showed no difference in the severity or duration of flu symptoms between the elderberry and placebo groups. For the participants in the elderberry group who did not take oseltamivir, it took two days longer for the symptoms to subside compared to the placebo group.

This is in clear contradiction to previous studies. In these it was found that elderberries shortened the flu symptoms by four days, according to the experts. Here it becomes clear that there is an urgent need for further research on this topic.

Elderberries ineffective in protecting against COVID-19

Although some people have been suggested that elderberries can prevent COVID-19, there are no published studies examining the use of elderberries in COVID-19. The best prevention against COVID-19 remains a vaccination.

This also applies to the flu, as there are currently no effective drugs to treat the flu. In addition, a vaccination is crucial to curb the spread of the flu. (as)

Author and source information

This text complies with the requirements of specialist medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical professionals.


  • Cleveland Clinic: Is Elderberry Really an Effective Cold and Flu Cure? (veröffentlicht 21.10.2021), Cleveland Clinic
  • Z. Zakay-Rones, E. Thom, T. Wollan, J. Wadstein: Randomized Study of the Efficacy and Safety of Oral Elderberry Extract in the Treatment of Influenza A and B Virus Infections; in: Journal of International Medical Research (veröffentlicht 01.04.2004),
  • Michael Macknin, Kathy Wolski, Jeffrey Negrey, Sharon Mace: Elderberry Extract Outpatient Influenza Treatment for Emergency Room Patients Ages 5 and Above: a Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial; in: Journal of General Internal Medicine (veröffentlicht 14.09.2020),

Important NOTE:
This article is for general guidance only and is not intended to be used for self-diagnosis or self-treatment. He can not substitute a visit at the doctor.


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.