Elderberry - Supplement of the Month

Mon, 10/21/2019

Elderberry is a delicious berry with strong anti-oxidant and anti-viral properties. It is a must this time of year!

This is the month that flu season starts and for those of you who see me in the clinic know we talk a lot about viral treatment and prevention. One of my favorites is the Elderberry plant. The Elderberry (also known as Sambucus nigra) has a history that dates back as far as 400 B.C. when it was considered to be one of Hippocrates’ stable treatments in his “medicine chest”.

This fruit is a rich source of anti-oxidants known as anthocyanins. As a strong anti-oxidant, it works to remove free radicles that cause damage to DNA in our body. Free radicals are known to play a role in aging, cancer and disease. A healthy dose of anti-oxidants can help to decrease this risk.

Beyond anthaocyanins being anti-oxidants, they are also strongly anti-inflammatory and as a result, elderberry has been used in the past to help decrease pain cause by inflammation.

The use I recommend most to my patients, is its strong anti-viral properties. In fact, elderberry has been shown in clinical trials to be as effective as tamaflu (1,2)!  I recommend taking it once a day during flu season and then increasing this dose to 3 times a day when sick.

Side effects of elderberry can include diarrhea when taking too much.  When using elderberry as a flu treatment, I recommend using the syrup form of the berry. When being used in children, make sure you obtain syrup that does not have alcohol in it.

1. Swaminathan. Anal BioAnal Chem. 2013
2. Zakay-Rones J. Alt Comp Med. 1995