Reviewed on 9/2/2021

What Is Elderberry and How Does It Work?

Elderberry suggested uses include for treatment and prevention of the common cold, cough and flu symptoms, sinusitis, as an immunostimulant, and treating mouth ulcers and tonsillitis. Suggested uses for elderberry extract include reducing the damaging effects of LDL cholesterol, and protection as an antioxidant. Suggested uses for elderberry leaves for topical application includes treatment of bruises, sprains, wounds, burns and chilblains, and as mouthwash for mouth ulcers. Suggested uses for elderberry tincture are for rheumatic conditions, and suggested uses for elderberry oil are for painful joints.

  • Elderberry has been demonstrated effective in symptom reduction and prophylaxis of cold, flu, and upper respiratory infections.
  • Elderberry is available under the following different brand and other names: American Elder, Black Elder, Blueberry Elder, Canary Island Elder, Sambucus spp, and Velvet Elder.

What Are Dosages of Elderberry?

Dosages of Elderberry:

Suggested Dosing


  • Adult: 15 mL (1 tablespoon) orally four times daily for 3-5 days (Sambucol, Nature's Way)
  • Children: 15 mL (1 tablespoon) orally twice daily for 3 days


  • 175 mg orally four times daily for 2 days


  • Leaves are used for bruises, sprains, wounds, and burns

Dosage Considerations – Should be Given as Follows:

  • Elderberry daily value not established, see individual product
  • Elderberry should be started within 24-28 hours of symptom onset


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What Are Side Effects Associated with Using Elderberry?

Common side effects of Elderberry include:

  • Nausea/vomiting (consumption of raw berries)
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Numbness
  • Stupor

This document does not contain all possible side effects and others may occur. Check with your physician for additional information about side effects.

What Other Drugs Interact with Elderberry?

If your doctor has directed you to use this medication, your doctor or pharmacist may already be aware of any possible drug interactions and may be monitoring you for them. Do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any medicine before checking with your doctor, health care provider, or pharmacist first.

  • Elderberry has no known severe, serious, or moderate interactions with other drugs.
  • Elderberry has mild interactions with at least 28 different drugs.

This information does not contain all possible interactions or adverse effects. Therefore, before using this product, tell your doctor or pharmacist of all the products you use. Keep a list of all your medications with you, and share this information with your doctor and pharmacist. Check with your health care professional or doctor for additional medical advice, or if you have health questions, concerns, or for more information about this medicine.

What Are Warnings and Precautions for Elderberry?


This medication contains elderberry. Do not take American Elder, Black Elder, Blueberry Elder, Canary Island Elder, Sambucus spp, or Velvet Elder if you are allergic to elderberry or any ingredients contained in this drug.

Keep out of reach of children. In case of overdose, get medical help or contact a Poison Control Center immediately.


  • Consumption of all green plant parts

Effects of Drug Abuse

  • No information available

Short-Term Effects

  • See "What Are Side Effects Associated with Using Elderberry?"

Long-Term Effects

  • See "What Are Side Effects Associated with Using Elderberry?"


  • Do not eat raw: mild cyanide toxicity is destroyed by cooking.

Pregnancy and Lactation

  • There is no information available about the use of elderberry during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. Consult your doctor.


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