Why You Should Take Elderberry This Flu Season

Cold and flu season is upon us, and you might already be taking precautions to protect yourself. This could be as simple as getting a flu shot, washing your hands more frequently or taking vitamins. If you are looking for a natural way to support your immune system this cold and flu season, look no further than elderberry. 

Here is why you should consider adding this tasty berry supplement into your winter wellness routine.

What is elderberry?

Elderberry is a purple berry produced by European elder trees.

The extract of this fruit is often added to supplements for immunity. This mighty fruit has been used to fight colds and the flu for centuries.  There is no standardized dosage for elderberry extract.

In adults, the most common dosage is around 1,200 milligrams by mouth, daily. It's not recommended to take it for longer than 12 weeks.   When consumed, the fruit should be ripe and purple.

Elderberries that are green are not ripe and could be poisonous.  

Health benefits of elderberry

You might be asking yourself, what is elderberry good for? Here are three science-backed benefits. 

Packed with vitamin C

Elderberries are high in vitamin C. In one cup of berries, there are 52 mg of vitamin C -- 52% of the daily recommended value. Elderberries are also high in fiber.

One cup contains 10 grams of fiber -- 36% of the daily recommended value. 

High in antioxidants

In addition to its nutritional value, elderberry is also high in antioxidants. Research has shown that elderberry flowers, leaves and berries can all be antioxidants. In another study comparing groups of berries, elderberries were found to have the highest levels of antioxidants. 

Aids in flu and cold symptoms 

Elderberry's most important benefit, in my opinion, is its immunity support.

Research has shown that elderberry extract may reduce the severity of flu symptoms. Its antiviral and antimicrobial properties make it a natural remedy for colds and the flu, but more research is needed to determine if it can prevent influenza.    

Are there side effects of elderberry?

Be aware that unripe elderberries or the plant's bark, leaves or roots may cause nausea, diarrhea and vomiting. If you have any of these symptoms while taking elderberry extract, stop the supplements and talk to your doctor. 

Who should not take elderberry? 

There haven't been enough studies to support children taking elderberry extract.

It is not recommended for children under five years of age, but it is unknown if it is safe for children over five. Those pregnant or breast-feeding should also stay clear of elderberry. Lastly, if you have an autoimmune disorder such as lupus or multiple sclerosis, elderberry may increase your symptoms. 

You also shouldn't take elderberry if you're looking for an alternative to a COVID-19 vaccine. It will not protect against COVID-19. 

Where to find elderberry

The great thing about elderberry supplements is that they're readily available. Find bottles of it on Amazon, online pharmacies or at your local grocery store.

The extract comes in gummy, liquid or syrup form. It should be noted that the FDA does not regulate herbal supplements. 

Bottom line

More high-quality, valid evidence and studies are needed to support a full recommendation of this herbal supplement, but the discourse around elderberry is mostly positive. If you're looking for extra immunity support this cold and flu season, consider taking an elderberry supplement.

The purple berry is high in vitamins, antioxidants and has a long history of reducing severity of cold and flu symptoms.

I, personally, take elderberry every morning, and so far, so good. 

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice.

Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.