Elderberry is the dark purple berry from the European tree called the Sambucus tree. Sambucus is a genus of flowering plants in the family Adoxaceae. The various species are commonly called the elder tree or elderberry. The genus was formerly placed in the honeysuckle family, Caprifoliaceae, but was reclassified as Adoxaceae due to genetic and morphological comparisons to plants in the genus Adoxa.

People have used elderberries for years to for their health-boosting properties, primarily for colds and flu. The elderberry fruit contains high levels of flavonoids, which means it likely has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. That translates to healthy cells from those harmful free radicals that cause acne. Because of its antiseptic effects, the American Nutrition Association (ANA) suggests using an elderberry face wash to help fight acne.

Elderberries also contain high levels of vitamin A. The ANA also says elderberries soothe the skin, helping ease the appearance of age spots, and prevent or lessen wrinkles.

Here is a list of 20 ailments the elderberry fruit, when used as medicine, has been known to be effective:

  • the common cold
  • the flu” (influenza)
  • H1N1 “swine” flu
  • HIV/AIDS in boosting the immune system
  • sinus pain
  • back and leg pain (sciatica)
  • nerve pain (neuralgia)
  • chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)
  • hay fever (allergic rhinitis)
  • cancer
  • relieve constipation
  • increase urine flow
  • to cause sweating
  • heart disease
  • high cholesterol
  • headache
  • toothache
  • weight loss
  • acne
  • lessen wrinkles


According to WebMD, elderberry fruit extract is generally safe when taken by mouth for up to 12 weeks. It’s not known if taking elderberry fruit extract is safe when used for longer periods of time. Elderberry is POSSIBLY UNSAFE when the leaves, stems, unripe fruit, or uncooked fruit is eaten. The cooked elderberry fruit seems to be safe, but raw and unripe fruit might cause nausea, vomiting, or severe diarrhea.


Medicine Dosing

The following doses have been studied in scientific research for adult medicine dosing:

For constipation: A tea made from elderberry flowers, anise fruit, fennel fruit, and senna flowers (Laboratórios Klein) mixed in 150 mL of boiling water has been taken three times daily for 5 days.

For 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. Also, one teaspoon (5 mL) of a product containing echinacea and elderberry (Echinaforce Hot Drink by A. Vogel Bioforce AG) mixed with 150 mL of hot water has been taken five times daily for 3 days then three times daily for 7 days.


A cup of elderberries contains the following vitamins and minerals:

870 mg of vitamin A

406 mg of potassium

52.2 mg of vitamin C

9 mg of folate

55 mg of calcium

2.32 mg of iron

10.2 g of dietary fiber


Commercially sold

Elderberries are commercially available as capsules, lozenges, and syrups for treating a cold or the flu. Elderberry is sold topically as skin care products.


Homemade remedies

Be sure never to eat raw elderberries, as they can be poisonous. That’s why I wouldn’t suggest homemade remedies with elderberries unless a person really knew what they were doing. For the expert naturopath, there are various ways to prepare elderberries.

To make elderberry syrup:

remove the stalks

cook the berries in water and sugar


boil the liquid to reduce it until it takes on a syrup-like consistency

People can then drizzle the syrup over plain yogurt or add it to a smoothie.


So, the next time you feel those horrible cold or flu-like symptoms coming on, don’t reach for those over-the-counter drugs with all their nagging side effects. Instead, reach for the elderberries. Relieve symptoms and at the same time, gain nutritional value.

Love & RAWspect,

Terri, aka t-RAW

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