While there is no one-size-fits-all remedy for illness, supporters of elderberry say the fruit is one of nature’s most versatile solutions for what ails you.
There are about 30 types of elder plants and trees found around the world. The European version (also known as Sambucus nigra) is the one most closely tied to your health and healing. Its history dates as far back as 400 BC, and Hippocrates, the “Father of Medicine,” called the elder tree his “medicine chest.”
In folk medicine today, the elderberry is widely considered one of the world’s most healing plants.
Some experts recommend elderberry to help prevent and ease cold and flu symptoms.
It’s also been used as a treatment for:
- Joint and muscle pain
- Infections that affect how you breathe
- Kidney problems
- Minor skin conditions
- HIV and AIDS
Elderberry gets a lot of support as a healing agent through word of mouth and old wives’ tales, but its success in medical tests is less conclusive. More research is needed.
Still, if you want to add a little pep to your immune system, many doctors say it’s safe to take elderberry as part of a healthy diet plan that includes foods with vitamin B, vitamin B6, and vitamin E.
Forms and Function
Just as uses for elderberry are broad, the forms it comes in are many, including syrups, gummies, lozenges, pills, and teas. It’s also used in:
- Food coloring
- Body lotions
Processed versions of elderberry are more common in the American market than the fresh fruit itself.
While opinions vary on whether elderberry is helpful, most doctors believe it’s safe to have in small doses. But unripe or uncooked berries or flowers from the plant can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Larger amounts can cause even more serious poisoning.
Other things to keep in mind include:
- If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you shouldn’t take it.
- Other parts of the elder tree, including the branches, twigs, leaves, roots, and seeds, are toxic. They contain a type of cyanide called glycoside.
- People with immune problems might have reactions to elderberry.
- If you get a rash or have trouble breathing after you have some, you might be allergic to it.
- Because it’s a diuretic, be careful when you take it if you’re on medicines that make you pee more.
Talk with your doctor if you’re thinking about taking elderberry.