Elderberry Maybe the Cold Fighting Supplement That Actually Works

Happy Saturday Everyone!  I hope you are looking forward to a relaxing weekend.  This is my first health related article of the year.  I came across this article on elderberry extract and how it is the new in-vogue natural supplement for colds and flus, and given that we are at the peak of our cold and flu season I found it very interesting.  I hope you find this information helpful.

Cold and flu season is upon us and you know we’ve heard from our parents and grandparents to take plenty of Vitamin C to help ward off the cold.  Enter a new cold remedy supplement in the market – elderberry extract.  I’ve seen quiet a few elderberry ads and have even seen elderberry extract and supplements in the pharmacy lately but really didn’t know much about it. A recent article from Martha Stewart online explains how this new fad of natural elderberry extract may actually have the super power to work in shortening a cold and reduce it’s severity.

As with any natural remedy it’s hard to prove any claims of benefits unless a scientific study is conducted to validate those claims.  That’s why elderberry shows promise, because many scientific studies for years have shown proven benefits of this berry.

Study of 312 airline passengers shows how beneficial elderberry extract can be.

A 2016 study of cold-sufferers on airplane by the US National Library of Medicine National Institue of Health  found that those who took an elderberry extract had a “significant reduction of cold duration and severity” when elderberry extract was taken in 300 mg capsules.  This randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial of 312 economy class passengers was conducted on a flight from Australia to an overseas destination.


The study aimed to determine if elderberry extract had beneficial effects on physical especially respiratory, and mental health vs those who took a placebo pill.  What they found is that the placebo group participants had a significantly longer duration of cold episode days and the average symptom score was also significantly higher.  Based on these results the study concluded that elderberry extract helps reduce the cold duration and severity in air travelers.

An earlier 2004 study by the same Institute found that those who took elderberry extract as 15 mL of liquid, recovered from their colds about four days faster than those who took a placebo.

What is the science behind elderberry being so effective?

As it turns out some scientists were curious and took it a step further to understand how elderberry extract can minimize flu and cold symptoms.  Scientists at the University of Sydney published in an April 2019 report sciencedaily.com found that compounds inside elderberry function as an antiviral medication, fighting to stop the cold virus from replicating and surviving inside our body.  The study also showed that these compounds can directly inhibit the virus’s entry and replication in human cells, and can help strengthen a person’s immune response to the virus.

What our study has shown is that the common elderberry has a potent direct antiviral effect against the flu virus.  It inhibits the early stages of an infection by blocking key viral proteins responsible for both the viral attachment and entry into the host cells.” said Dr Golnoosh Torabian.   sciencedaily.com

Cautionary Note.

On a cautionary note many further studies have shown that elderberry extract does not necessarily help with cardiovascular issues and bronchitis.  But when it comes to colds  and the flu all the data is positive and provides plenty of evidence to suggest that elderberry actually does work in remedying a cold faster and with less severe symptoms.

As with any supplement check with your doctor before taking them. Elderberry extract doesn’t seem to have many negative side effects (Remember: Never eat raw elderberries. They’re very toxic!). But it does have dangerous interactions with some medications, especially immunosuppressant drugs. There’s a partial list of drug interactions here, but if you’re taking any regular prescriptions, check with your doctor before taking elderberry.

Those at a greater health risk, especially pregnant women and children, should probably not take elderberry. There’s no evidence that it’s unsafe, but, according to a 2014 study, there is not sufficient evidence that it’s safe, so don’t risk it.

Where can you buy elderberry extract?

Elderberry extract is available over the counter in many forms—gummies, capsules, and liquids mostly—at drugstores and supermarkets, and online.  Elderberry extract is officially a dietary supplement, meaning the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not have to prove elderberry supplements are safe or that manufacturer claims are scientifically proven. So be careful and do your research before purchasing a particular brand.

For more information on elderberry extract take a look at these articles I referenced.

Science Daily April 2019 Study in Elderberry

Elderberry may be the supplement that works for cold and flu symptoms. Better Homes & Gardens by Dan Nosowitz.


Elderberry is the cold fighting supplement that might actually work.

A 2016 study of cold-sufferers on airplane by the US National Library of Medicine National Institue of Health

5 thoughts on “Elderberry Maybe the Cold Fighting Supplement That Actually Works”

  1. Are you familiar with the native blue elderberry that grows wild here? The jelly that I make with it wins second place at the Harvest Festival in Boulder Creek every year. (It is a long story about why I don’t win first place.) Anyway, for those who eat jelly, a typical serving of it is probably comparably to taking elderberry syrup.

    1. Oh very interesting! I didnt even know Boulder Creek had a Harvest Festival. I will have look out for local blue elderberrry jam at the local fairs and farmers markets. Thanks for the info.

      1. The Harvest Festival is the Santa Cruz Mountains Harvest Festival, and happens to be in Boulder Creek. It is rather minimal, but I have enjoyed the Jelly and Jam Competition! When I started making jelly with the native blue elderberries, no one knew that it is very similar to the Eastern or European black elderberries. There is a native red elderberry, but it is not as flavorful. Besides, it does not live here where I can get to it. Once friends noticed that I was using it, they started taking all the berries for wine! How annoying! Anyway, I can get enough berries at work. I know of no one else though, who makes jelly with it, or even syrup. My friends who took all the berries for wine disposed of the ‘wine’ because it was no good. They keep trying though. I do not want to try the wine, not only because I do not drink alcohol, but because elderberry can be quite toxic if not cooked. I doubt that wine is toxic, but I really do not know.

  2. I used to take echinacea but it seemed to have lost its effectiveness so I switched to Zicam (zinc) and currently it shortens my colds but I have to take it at first sign. I will def try elderberry to switch it up. Thx, Kalpana, for the helpful article 😍

    1. That’s awesome that you found this info helpful! I had also never heard of elderberry extract until now but it seems like a great alternative to echineacea and the other natural remedies. Thanks for stopping by Joji 😘.

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