American Elderberry, Common Elderberry, Elderberry, Elder Flower, Sabugueiro, Sambucus, Sambucus canadensis, Saúco, Saúco de Canada, Sureau, Sureau Blanc, Sureau du Canada, Sweet Elder.
American elder is a plant. The flower and ripe fruit are used to make medicine.
People use American elder for breathing problems such as asthma and bronchitis; for colds, cough, and sore throat; and for painful conditions such as headache, nerve pain (neuralgia), joint pain (rheumatism), toothache, and swelling (inflammation).
Other uses include treatment of bruises, cancer, intestinal gas, epilepsy, fever, gout, psoriasis, sores, syphilis, and fluid retention (edema) due to weak heart function (heart failure).
Some people use American elder as a “purifier” that empties the bowels. It is also used to rid the body of extra fluid by increasing urine production (as a diuretic), “sweat out a fever,” promote healing, and cause vomiting.
American elder is also used as an eyewash, mouthwash, and poultice.
In foods, American elder is cooked and eaten and used to make elderberry wine. American elder is also used to flavor foods and beverages.
In manufacturing, extracts of American elder are used in perfumes.
How does it work?
Research suggests that some of the chemicals in American elder leaf might work as a laxative, diuretic, and germ-killer. American elder also contains lots of vitamin C.
Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...
- Intestinal gas.
- Water retention (edema).
- Nerve problems.
- Other conditions.
Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).
American elder flowers or cooked, ripe fruit are safe for most adults in the amounts found in foods. There is some scientific evidence that suggests the flowers are safe in medicinal amounts, which are typically larger. Some side effects might include nausea, vomiting, weakness, dizziness, numbness, and stupor.
The leaves, stems, or unripe fruit are UNSAFE. If eaten, they can cause cyanide poisoning. Juice made from unripe fruit can also be poisonous.
Children: Some children like to make peashooters from American elder stems, but this practice isn't as harmless as it sounds. The stem contains chemicals that can cause cyanide poisoning. Some “peashooter poisonings” have been reported.
LithiumInteraction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.Talk with your health provider.
American elder might have an effect like a water pill or "diuretic." Taking American elder might decrease how well the body gets rid of lithium. This could increase how much lithium is in the body and result in serious side effects. Talk with your healthcare provider before using this product if you are taking lithium. Your lithium dose might need to be changed.
Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 3A4 [CYP3A4] substrates)Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.Talk with your health provider.
Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver. American elder might decrease how quickly the liver breaks down some medications. Taking American elder along with some medications that are broken down by the liver can increase the effects and side effects of some medications. Before taking American elder, talk to your healthcare provider if you are taking any medications that are changed by the liver.
The appropriate dose of American elder depends on several factors such as the user's age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for American elder. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.
Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
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Budzinski JW, Foster BC, Vandenhoek S, Arnason JT. An in vitro evaluation of human cytochrome P450 3A4 inhibition by selected commercial herbal extracts and tinctures. Phytomedicine 2000;7:273-82. View abstract.
Electronic Code of Federal Regulations. Title 21. Part 182 -- Substances Generally Recognized As Safe. Available at: https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/CFRSearch.cfm?CFRPart=182
Holetz FB, Pessini GL, Sanches NR, et al. Screening of some plants used in the Brazilian folk medicine for the treatment of infectious diseases. Mem Inst Oswaldo Cruz 2002;97:1027-31. View abstract.