Elderberry Extract: Benefits, Uses, Side Effects

Mar 08 2023

Elderberry extract is taken from the dark purple berry of the European elder tree and has a long-standing reputation as a remedy for colds and flu. Supplements are commonly made using this powerful ingredient due to its antiviral properties, which can decrease infection severity levels and high antioxidant content that keeps cells safe from free radicals and decreases inflammation. Not only that, but it also helps with reducing swelling and relieving pain.

Elderberry is safe to consume when cooked, but there are some risks and side effects involved with eating it. Eating raw or unripe elderberry can result in nausea, vomiting, and severe diarrhea. Additionally, its raw berries, bark, and leaves are poisonous and should not be consumed under any circumstances. Therefore, it’s important to make sure that elderberry is prepared and cooked properly before ingestion.

Benefits of Elderberry Extract

The History and Culture of Elderberry Extract

Native to Europe and North America, elderberry has been used by Aboriginal healers to treat fever and swelling and to induce sweating. The berries feature heavily in some Aboriginal folklore and are often dried and stored over winter for later consumption.

In ancient times, Greek and Roman naturalists, healers, and philosophers all referred to this mysterious healing plant. In 400 BC, Hippocrates called the elderberry plant his “medicine chest” because of its wide range of applications. Popular for their medicinal properties, elderberries have been dubbed “the redneck’s medicine chest”.

Benefits of Elderberry Extract

Elderberry is an incredibly nutritious option with a wide range of potential benefits. It may act as a powerful immune booster, helping to fight cold and flu symptoms while promoting cardiovascular health. Additionally, its anti-inflammatory properties and high content of vitamin C and dietary fiber have been reported to be beneficial in warding off infections. Furthermore, the compound that gives elderberry its distinctive blue color appears to lower inflammation levels throughout the body.

Elderberry extract

Some other reported benefits of elderberry include:

  • Helps fight cancer: Both European and American elders have been found to have some cancer-inhibiting properties in test-tube studies.
  • Fights harmful bacteria.
  • May support the immune system.
  • Could protect against UV radiation.
  • May increase urination.
  • May have some antidepressant properties

Nutritional value of elderberries

Elderberries are an ideal choice for health-conscious individuals seeking low-calorie snacks with plenty of antioxidants. Every cup of fresh elderberries provides 106 calories, 26.7 grams of carbohydrates, less than one gram each of fat and protein, and up to 10 grams of dietary fiber – comprising approximately 40% of the recommended daily intake (RDI).

Additionally, every serving contains 27 grams of carbohydrates – equating to around 9% of your RDI.

Elderberries are a great source of vitamin C; 100g contains 36mg or 60% of the RDI (recommended daily intake). Vitamin C is an effective water-soluble antioxidant which plays a role in helping to prevent viral flu.

Elderberry Extract daily dosage

Elderberry Extract daily dosage

When it comes to elderberry extract, there is no generally accepted dosage. Many clinical trials have used a dose of 3 teaspoons (1 tablespoon) of elderberry syrup taken four times per day for a five-day period; however, the exact type of product and dosage should be determined by consulting with a healthcare provider.

Elderberry extract is available in various forms including syrups and mouth rinses. It’s important to speak with your doctor or pharmacist before taking any form of elderberry supplement.

Precautions When Using Elderberry Extract

Elderberry supplements seem to have few risks when used daily for up to five days. The safety of its long-term use is unknown. It is possibly unsafe to consume elder leaves or stems, or unripe or uncooked elderberries. Cooked elderberry seems to be safe, but raw and unripe fruit might cause nausea, vomiting, or severe diarrhea.

If you’re taking any medications or supplements on a regular basis, it’s important to consult with your doctor before trying elderberry supplements. Elderberry is known to stimulate the immune system; however, this could be an issue for those that take medications that directly limit the activity of the immune system, such as post-transplant drugs.

Precautions When Using Elderberry Extract

Side Effects of Elderberry Extract

When it comes to elderberry supplements, it appears that daily consumption for up to five days is safe. However, the safety of extended use is not known. It’s recommended to avoid consuming cooked or uncooked elder leaves, stems, or unripe fruits as they may cause nausea, vomiting, and severe diarrhea. Boiling or cooking elderberry before consumption is likely safe.

How do I make Elderberry Extract at home?

You can make elderberry extract at home by following these steps:

Step 1: Combine water, elderberries, ginger, cinnamon and cloves in a medium-sized saucepan. Bring to a boil before reducing the heat and simmering for 20 minutes.

Step 2: Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 30 to 45 minutes until the liquid has reduced by almost half.

Step 3: It is necessary to ensure the temperature of the substance has decreased to a lukewarm state prior to ceasing heating.

Step 4: It is important to use a flat utensil, like a spoon, when mashing the berries. This helps achieve consistent results and minimizes waste.

Another way to make elderberry extract at home is by using dried elderberries and alcohol.

Here’s a recipe you can follow:

  • Take 4oz of dried elderberries and place them in a 1-quart jar with a lid.
  • Fill the jar with cheap vodka or brandy.
  • Each day, shake the jar and during the first week, make sure that the alcohol still covers the berries. Add more vodka or brandy if necessary.

What are some elderberry recipes?

There are many recipes that you can make using elderberries.

Here are some ideas:

What are some elderberry recipes

Elderberry Syrup

A simple elderberry syrup recipe made with dried elderberries, honey, and herbs for an immune-boosting and delicious syrup.

Elderberry Lemon Basil Cocktail

A refreshing cocktail made with elderberry-infused vodka, lemon juice, and fresh basil.

Elderberry Water Kefir

A probiotic-rich drink made by fermenting water kefir grains with elderberries.

Elderberry Infused Vodka

A delicious and easy-to-make infusion of elderberries and vodka.

Elderberry Gin

A tasty infusion of elderberries and gin.

Elderberry Kombucha

A gut-healthy drink made by infusing elderberries into kombucha.

How do I store Elderberry Extract

How do I store Elderberry Extract?

When storing elderberry extract, select a cool and dry area away from direct sunlight such as light from a cupboard or pantry shelf. If using an alcohol-based tincture, choose only edible spirits like vodka or brandy to ensure safety and quality. Be sure to give the jar and its contents a gentle shake before storage for optimal mix results.

If you have made elderberry syrup, it should be stored in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid in the fridge. So long as you bottle it up and close the lid nice and snug, jars of elderberry syrup last between 90 and 180 days when kept cold.

The European elder tree has long been used as a medicinal herb


The European elder tree has long been used as a medicinal herb, offering cold and flu relief. Elderberry extract is obtained from the dark purple berries of this tree and provides strong antiviral compounds with antioxidative properties to reduce inflammation. Uncooked elder items may result in adverse effects like vomiting; however, consuming cooked elderberry is relatively safe.

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