How Elderberry Syrup Will Keep You Well This Flu Season

Winter truly is the most wonderful time of the year. There’s so many things that the cold weather brings: a day spent playing in the snow, a night spent by the fire, another night spent lying awake and praying for God to clear your sinuses just for a few minutes… It doesn’t get much better than that.

Perhaps I sound a little jaded, and that might be because I am. I don’t really care for the cold weather, and I hate being sick (who doesn’t?), two things that aren’t conducive to developing a great appreciation for the winter season.

Still, there are some nice things about it, like Christmas I guess, so I know it’s not all bad. However, with winter inevitably comes cold and flu season, and if there’s one big thing you can do to protect yourself from all those germs floating around, it’s this: drink elderberry syrup.

You’ve likely heard of the magical virus-fighting abilities held within sambucus nigra (elder plant)--it is, after all, one of the most commonly used plants for medicinal purposes (3). The Native Americans used elder for infection, coughs, and skin conditions. It’s been used as an insect repellant, as a gargle for coughs, head colds, topically for rheumatism and for inflammation.

But perhaps you didn’t know that all those claims are backed up by numerous scientific studies. The extract of the elderberry plant is a phenomenal antivirus, but studies have also been conducted that show its effectiveness not only against influenza A and B, but also against herpes simplex-1 (which causes cold sores)(11), diabetes, and even constipation. Let’s go a little more in depth on each one.

Note: While there is significant evidence for elderberry usage, this information is not intended to treat any disease. We never recommend taking any supplement before consulting your doctor.


Elderberry possesses flavonoids, which are powerful antioxidants. Partially due to this, elderberry extract is actually able to bind to and inhibit influenza A and B cells (1,2). The cells of the H1N1 virus, for instance, have spikes of hemagglutinin on their surface, which allows the virus to pierce cell walls, enter the cell, and replicate. Elderberry constituents actually deactivate these spikes, rendering the virus incapable of proliferating (4,6).

The Natural Standard Research Collaboration gave elderberry a “B” score for influenza efficacy. Such a high score indicates “statistically significant evidence from 2 or more properly randomized trials . . . AND with supporting evidence in basic science, animal studies, or theory.”(3)

One study found that elderberry juice improves flu-like symptoms such as fatigue, fever, sore throat, headache, aches, and coughing in less than half the time it would normally take to recover from the flu (5,12). Patients who took elderberry syrup saw great improvement in 3 days, where the patients who took a plabo recovered to the same level in about 8 days. That's huge improvement!


Elderberry has been used as a folk remedy to treat diabetes in the past, but this subject has more recently been studied by scientists in Ireland. Another in vitro study, this research found that elderberry extract greatly increased glucose uptake, oxidation, and glycogenesis. Furthermore, insulin secretion was significantly increased (10). This is, in effect, a direct reversal of symptoms caused by diabetes.

Herpes Simplex

One in vitro study found that elderberry extract, combined with soapwort and St John’s Wort, actually completely inhibits viral replication in four tested strains of herpes simplex-1. (9) As people who suffer from cold sores will tell you, anything that gets rid of them is a winner.


Believe it or not, a study was conducted that measured the effects that elderberry extract, combined with anise, fennel, and senna would have on chronic constipation. Perhaps surprisingly, there was a significant increase in colon transit time, as well as daily evacuations (13).

Immune System

Apart from directly attacking viruses and aiding in recovery times, elderberry extract has also be shown to boost your immune system by increasing the production of cytokines, which activate the white blood cells that consume bacteria and fight infections, as well as facilitating their movement to inflamed tissues (4).

How Often Should I Take It?

All of this information is well and good, and hopefully you’ve been fully convinced that elderberry is extraordinarily effective. But how does it relate to you?

Throughout the flu season, I personally stock up on some elderberry syrup (we sell kits here) and take a single tablespoon once a day as prevention. According to the science, this will boost your immune system and has the potential to keep that awful sickness away.

If you somehow still contract a cold or the flu, take a tablespoon of elderberry syrup every hour. This will load your system with those wonderful virus-busting flavonoids and, according to the science, could decrease your recovery time by up to half. Just remember to take it every hour and you’ll be shocked how quickly it’ll work for you.

Works Cited

  1. Frøkiær, Hanne, et al. "Astragalus Root And Elderberry Fruit Extracts Enhance The IFN-Β Stimulatory Effects Of Lactobacillus Acidophilus In Murine-Derived Dendritic Cells." Plos ONE 7.10 (2012): 1-10. Academic Search Premier. Web. 20 Nov. 2015.5. Zakay-Rones,

  2. Roschek, Bill, et al. "Elderberry Flavonoids Bind To And Prevent H1N1 Infection In Vitro." Phytochemistry 70.10 (2009): 1255-1261. Academic Search Premier. Web. 20 Nov. 2015.

  3. Ulbricht, Catherine, et al. "An Evidence-Based Systematic Review Of Elderberry And Elderflower ( Sambucus Nigra) By The Natural Standard Research Collaboration." Journal Of Dietary Supplements 11.1 (2014): 80-120. Academic Search Premier. Web. 20 Nov. 2015.

  4. “Sambucus Nigra (Elderberry)." Alternative Medicine Review 10.1 (2005): 51-55. Academic Search Premier. Web. 20 Nov. 2015.

  5. Zichria et al. "Inhibition of several strains of influenza virus in vitro and reduction of symptoms by an elderberry extract (Sambucus nigra L.) during an outbreak of influenza B Panama." The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 1.4 (1995): 361-369.

  6. “Sambucus Nigra (Elderberry)." Alternative Medicine Review 10.1 (2005): 51-55. Academic Search Premier. Web. 20 Nov. 2015.

  7. Zakay-Rones Z. Thom E, Wollan T. Wadstein J. Randomized study of the efficacy and safety of oral elderberry extract in the treatment of influenza A and B virus infections. J Int Med Res 2004:32:132- 140.

  8. Sahpira-Nahor O. Zakay-Rones Z, Mumcuoglu M. The effects of SambucolⓇ- on HIV infection in vitro. Ann Israel Congress Microbiol February 6-7, 1995.

  9. Morag AM. Mumcuoglu M. Baybikov T. et al. Inhibition of sensitive and acyclovir-resistant HSV-1 strains by an elderberry extract in vitro. Z Phytother 1997:25:97-98.

  10. Gray AM. Abdel-Wahab YH. Flatt PR. The traditional plant treatment. Sambucus nigra (elder), exhibits insulin-like and insulin-releasing actions in vitro. J Nutr 2000; 130:15-20.

  11. Serkedjieva, Julia et al. "Antiviral activity of the infusion (SHS‐174) from flowers of Sambucus nigra L., aerial parts of Hypericum perforatum L., and roots of Saponaria officinalis L. against influenza and herpes simplex viruses." Phytotherapy Research 4.3 (1990): 97-100.

  12. Kong, Fan-kun. "Pilot clinical study on a proprietary elderberry extract: efficacy in addressing influenza symptoms." Online Journal of Pharmacology and Pharmacokinetics 5 (2009): 32-43.

  13. Picon, Paulo D et al. "Randomized clinical trial of a phytotherapic compound containing Pimpinella anisum, Foeniculum vulgare, Sambucus nigra, and Cassia augustifolia for chronic constipation." BMC complementary and alternative medicine 10.1 (2010): 17.

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