A brown bottle with a white cap next to dark purple elderberries with green leaves.

Taking herbal medicines is a common illness treatment option for many people. Some people may argue that herbal treatments work better than prescription medicine for their health concerns.

Especially for the flu, elderberry is a common, plant-derived medicine used for its ample amounts of nutrients and virus-fighting properties. Many people also use elderberry for immunity boosts, too.

COVID-19 & Elderberry

COVID-19 has caused a massive spike in global health concerns. Some people may wonder whether or not using herbal medicines, supplements or oils will prevent, treat or reduce cold and/or flu symptoms related to COVID-19. According to Yale’s School of Medicine, common techniques and medicines used to treat the common cold or flu, including using elderberry medicine, are not yet proven to help prevent or treat COVID-19.

For the best advice on elderberry’s effectiveness and dosage, it is critical to seek a medical professional’s advice before taking elderberry medicinally. During this time, reaching a doctor will be more difficult than usual, so taking extra precautions with any medicine intake is important.

Some studies have shown elderberry to effectively treat H1N1 symptoms, but the side effects and end results may differ from person to person. Further, COVID-19 is still a very new virus that requires much more research in order for people to fully understand the best way to treat it.

What is elderberry?

Elderberry is a species of the Sambucus plant and is from the Adoxaceae family. It is part of a group of other types of elderberries, but the elderberries from a European elder tree are specifically used to make medicine.

What are the health benefits?

Elderberry contains ample amounts of nutrients, which are great for a person’s overall health and well-being. Antioxidants and vitamins are highly present in elderberry supplements and medicines.

According to Mayo Clinic, a study showed positive results for people with flu-like symptoms who took 15 mL of elderberry syrup four times per day. They reported their symptoms disappearing, on average, four days earlier than those who took a placebo syrup.

Is elderberry safe to use?

There are a few groups of people who should avoid taking elderberry, either as a supplement, immunity booster or flu-fighter. This is due to little research proving the level of safety and effectiveness of elderberry on these groups. These people include:

  • Pregnant or breastfeeding women
  • Children under 18 years old

Most elderberry medicines will outline the proper doses on their bottles. Following these guidelines, along with the advice of a medical professional, is important in order to safely use and benefit from elderberry.

Elderberry in Medicine Form

Because of all of the immunity-boosting health benefits elderberry carries, people often use it to relieve symptoms and treat colds and the flu. It comes in two medicinal forms: syrup and gummies. The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NIH) states elderberry can be used to help treat the following:

  • Flu symptoms
  • Sinusitis
  • Other cold-related symptoms

The NIH states not enough evidence exists to determine how effective elderberry is in treating these symptoms, so it’s critical to speak with your doctor about using it.

There are some differences between the two main forms, which is important to consider when deciding how to treat a cold or the flu with elderberry.

Syrup

Most elderberry syrup comes in a dark purple liquid form. For small children, elderberry drops are available to make measuring doses easier. The syrup form of elderberry is the proper option for people who prefer liquid medicine to tablets or gummies. It is also likely the safer option for children, depending on the specific brand.

Gummies

Just like syrup, elderberry gummies can also be used to treat various health conditions, including the common cold and the flu. The only difference is that the dosage may be easier to measure or keep track of with gummies.

In most cases, only adults will take the gummy form of elderberry, perhaps due to a high level of sugar per dose. Depending on the brand, some elderberry gummies may contain higher amounts of elderberry than a single tablespoon of elderberry syrup. Therefore, gummies may be safer for adults than children.

Final Thoughts

Although elderberry provides plenty of useful nutrients to the body, most practitioners will not advise relying on it. To help fight the flu and use elderberry for immunity, consider these precautions:

  • Ask your doctor about getting a flu shot
  • Eat healthy, balanced meals each day
  • Aim for eight hours of sleep each night if you are an adult
  • Exercise for 30 minutes each day
  • Drink plenty of fluids, especially water, each day

If you believe you could have the flu, contact your doctor or a local clinic immediately. Discuss your symptoms in as much depth as possible with them and ask to get tested.

Disclaimers: This article does not constitute professional medical advice, nor can it replace the advice of a licensed professional.

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