Our Story Give $10, Get $10 Account Cart

Benefits of Elderberry: Science, Benefits, and Side Effects

The Cabinet — 05.09.24

As one of the most commonly used plants today, elderberry can be found in medicine cabinets all over the world. It’s known for its ability to alleviate cold and flu symptoms and stimulate immune response, so what makes this berry so much more healing than others? 

Here, we take a closer look at the history, benefits, and science of this powerful berry. 

The History 

Elderberries are found on the Sambucus nigra plant, which is a flowering shrub or tree native to Europe and North America. The colloquial name elderberry can be traced to the Anglo-Saxon word “aeld,” meaning fire, as the plant’s stem was hollow and could be easily used to blow air into a fire. 

Like many herbs, elderberry’s history is steeped in folklore. The Sambucus nigra was thought to be inhabited by Hyde Moer — or Elder Mother — who was the goddess or nymph of vegetation, life, and death in Scandinavian culture. Anyone who harmed the sacred tree was suspected to be struck with disaster.

The Science

While elderberry has long been used as a remedy, there’s a pretty good reason why you won’t find it as an ingredient in your favorite smoothie. Raw elderberries are actually toxic—they contain sambunigrin, which can be poisonous to humans. A word to the wise: don’t experiment with elderberries at home! 

So why are elderberries good for you in their medicinal form? Primarily due to their high concentration of antioxidant compounds like polyphenols and anthocyanins. Anthocyanins found in elderberries have 3.5 times the antioxidant power of vitamin E. 

You need antioxidants to fight against free radicals (unstable atoms that can damage your cells) in the body, aiding in the prevention of developing illness. Meanwhile, polyphenols are also regarded for their antioxidant properties.

Needless to say, elderberry's potent nutritional profile makes it a powerhouse for your immune system and overall health!

The Health Benefits

Now that we've touched on why elderberries are such a darling in the wellness world for their immune-supporting prowess, let's dive into some of the other remarkable benefits this small but mighty fruit has to offer. 

Whether you're a seasoned elderberry enthusiast or just curious about adding some natural oomph to your daily routine, there's plenty to discover.

Soothing Digestive Aid

Ever find yourself feeling a bit bloated after a big meal? Elderberry might just be the gentle nudge your digestive system needs. 

Thanks to its fiber content, elderberry helps keep things moving smoothly in the digestive tract, helping to ease the symptoms of occasional constipation and maintain regularity. It's a natural approach that supports rather than overwhelms your system.

Natural Support for Skin Radiance

Looking for that glow? Elderberry is rich in antioxidants like vitamin A and phenolic acids that help support the skin’s natural defenses against environmental stressors, promoting a youthful-looking radiance. Whether you're sipping on elderberry juice or using products infused with elderflower, your skin gets a dose of nature's best to help it stay supple and vibrant.

Helps Manage Blood Sugar Levels

For those keeping an eye on blood sugar fluctuations, elderberries offer a helping hand. The fiber and phenolic compounds in these berries can help manage glucose absorption, supporting a steady energy release. It's all about maintaining your body's natural processes without drastic spikes and dips.

Promotes Heart Health

Elderberry's impressive profile of flavonoids and fiber isn't just good news for your immune system — it's also a plus for your heart. These nutrients work together to help support healthy cholesterol levels and maintain arterial health, making elderberry a heart-friendly choice for those looking to support cardiovascular wellness.

A Friend to Frequent Flyers

Traveling soon? Elderberries are known for their role in supporting the immune system, which can be particularly beneficial for air travelers exposed to crowded environments. A little elderberry supplement or a few lozenges can be a savvy travel hack to help keep you feeling well, whether you're jet-setting for business or pleasure.

Do Elderberries Have Side Effects?

While elderberries are celebrated for their numerous health benefits, it's important to approach their use with mindfulness — especially when considering the side effects associated with improper preparation or overconsumption.

Mind the Preparation

As touched on earlier, eating raw elderberries (as well as the leaves, seeds, and other parts of the plant) can be harmful. They contain a compound called sambunigrin, which can release cyanide, a toxic substance. Always ensure that your elderberry products, like syrups, jams, or supplements, come from reputable sources that use properly prepared elderberries.

Potential Digestive Discomfort

Though elderberries are a boon for digestion due to their fiber content, consuming them in large amounts might lead to digestive discomfort, such as bloating or stomach upset. This is particularly true if you're not used to a high-fiber diet.

Interaction With Medications

Elderberry can act as a diuretic, so if you're taking medications that increase urine output, you should consult your healthcare provider before starting elderberry supplements. Additionally, due to its effect on the immune system, those on immunosuppressive therapy should seek medical advice to avoid potential interactions.

Allergic Reactions

As with many dietary supplements, there's a risk of allergic reactions. Symptoms could range from mild (itchy skin, rash) to severe. If you're trying elderberry for the first time, start with small amounts to monitor your body's response.

Incorporating Elderberry Into Your Daily Routine

Incorporating elderberry into your routine doesn't have to be a chore. In fact, it can be quite seamless and enjoyable, especially when you use products that fit naturally into your lifestyle. 

Here are a few practical tips to help you enjoy the benefits of elderberry in your everyday life:

Start Your Day With Elderberry

Kick off your morning with our Elderberry Immune Gummy to give your immune system a boost from the get-go. These gummies are easy to incorporate into your breakfast routine and ensure you start your day with essential nutrients like elderberry, zinc, and vitamin C, which support immune health and energy levels.

Support Digestive Health Before Meals

If you're planning a meal that might challenge your stomach, consider our Dairy + Gluten Digestive Enzymes just before eating. While these aren't directly related to elderberry, they complement the digestive support that elderberries offer by aiding the digestion of potential food triggers, allowing you to enjoy your meals without discomfort.

Make a Smoothie Boost

Add a few drops of elderberry extract to your morning or post-workout smoothie for an antioxidant boost. This not only enhances the flavor but also provides the immune-supporting benefits of elderberries. Combine with cranberries and other superfruits for a delicious, health-packed drink.

Enhance Your Nighttime Routine

Integrate elderberry into your evening routine with a soothing elderberry tea. This can be a relaxing way to wind down and enjoy the calming effects of elderberry. Pairing this with our Sleep Support supplement, which aids in supporting sleep quality and waking up energized, just might be what you need to significantly enhance your nightly regimen.

Infuse Your H20

Infuse your daily water intake with elderberry fruit tincture or a splash of elderberry juice. This subtly flavored water is refreshing and provides a gentle dose of elderberry's beneficial properties throughout the day, perfect for staying hydrated while also boosting your nutrient intake.

Make Homemade Elderberry Syrup

Create your own homemade elderberry syrup using dried black elderberries, water, and honey. This syrup can be used as a sweetener in teas, drizzled over desserts, or even taken by the spoonful to help support immune health during colder months.

At Hilma, we celebrate the natural potency of elderberry, a plant that has woven its way through history into the fabric of modern wellness practices. Harnessing the health benefits of elderberry, especially for immune support and easing common cold symptoms, aligns with our commitment to providing holistic, scientifically-backed remedies for everyday health. 

By integrating elderberry into your daily routine, you not only tap into an ancient tradition of healing but also embrace a life enriched with natural wellness. Embrace the power of elderberry and feel supported, naturally, every step of the way.

Note: This information is for educational purposes only, and should not be taken as medical advice. Please consult your physician before treating any disorder.


Elderberry | NCCIH

Elderberries, raw | USDA.gov

Elderberry | British Columbia Drug and Poison Information Center

Elderberry Information | Mount Sinai 

Be prepared with

natural solutions

Your Bag Close Minicart


Your shopping bag is feeling empty Shop Now

Subtotal: $0.00

Taxes and shipping calculated at checkout.