Black Elderberry: Nature’s Secret to Fighting Colds and Flu

English: Sambucus nigra, Adoxaceae, Elder, Eld...

Elderberry, Sambucus Nigra (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Black elderberry (Sambucus nigra) is a shrub with deep purple to black berries that have been used in Europe for centuries to treat viruses, congestion, colds, and fever.

Black elderberry contains a high level of antioxidants,
which boosts the immune system, helping the body to fight off viruses and reduce and/or eliminate symptoms of the common cold and influenza virus.

Black elderberry is sold in the United States mainly as a tea, flower, dried berry, and a syrup.

What you should know about black elderberry:

  1. Elderberry boosts the immune system.
  2. The antioxidants in black elderberry are believed to reduce the damage caused by free radicals as well as inflammation in the body and fight chronic illness like, cancer, heart disease and stroke.
  3. Products containing black elderberry extract were shown to be effective in treating the influenza virus by reducing the duration of the flu.
  4. Elderberry can be purchased in  various forms like  the dried berry, liquid, syrup, tincture, capsules and lozenges.
  5. Black elderberry should always be cooked, as the unripe raw berries and plant are poisonous and contain small traces of cyanide (which is why I prefer to purchase the dried berries).

I first heard about black elderberry after my son, who is a toddler, kept coming down with colds during the winter and I was desperate to find a natural way to keep him well (it is not recommended that children under 2 yrs old take cold medicine). A friend recommended that I make my own dried elderberries juice, as a cold remedy, so I did.

So I purchased a package of dried elderberries from a local natural food market, and made my own juice using a variation of a recipe that I found online. My particular recipe for a warm elderberry drink is below.


Black Elderberry Juice Recipe

·3 cups of water

·1/2 cup dried elderberries

·1 cinnamon stick

·2 cloves

  1. Place the water and cinnamon stick in a pot and bring to a boil
  2. Place the dried elderberries and cloves in a tea infuser and add it to the boiling water
  3. Turn down the heat to bring the water to a simmer.
  4. Simmer all ingredients for 30 minutes
  5. After berries are finished cooking, strain, pour and enjoy.

You can drink the elderberry juice warm, right after cooling for a few minutes and then place the remaining juice in the refrigerator for a cool refreshing drink; however, I would recommend drinking the juice the same day. I was extremely pleased with my elderberry drink and decided that I would use this drink in the winter months to ward off colds and the flu. I decided against giving the drink to my son, since I didn’t know the concentration of the elderberry in the juice (it’s always best to err on the side of caution, especially with kids).


I did decide, however, find a commercial black elderberry product for my son, made especially for Children. It’s called Nature’s Way Organic Sambucus for Kids and it was highly recommended on Amazon. I gave him the recommended dose throughout the winter months when he had a cold and it seemed to end his cold and alleviate congestion sooner than without taking the syrup. It did not prevent him from getting a cold, but I’m hoping that when he turns two years old, he will be sick a lot less often, since he will hopefully be putting less random objects in his mouth! 🙂