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Elderberry Elixir : Boosting Immunity Against Colds and Flu Naturally

Elderberry and elderberry elixir have been intensively explored as a remedy for several health conditions, including colds and flu. It has a long history of use for colds and flu. Ancient Greeks used elderberry as part of their pharmacy at the beginning of AD or the Common Era.(1) This berry has now also been adopted for modern natural medicinal use and many herbal companies have started preparing elderberry elixir that have become popular among the people, especially during the winter months when they are more susceptible to colds and flu. Discover more about elderberry elixir and its natural ability to boost immunity against colds and flu.

Know-About Elderberry Elixir and What Does It Contain?

Elderberry is a dark purple berry grown on European or black elder trees and is also known as the Sambucus nigra plant. It is a rich source of anthocyanins (antioxidants) and is generally used for supporting the immune system.(2) Thus, Elderberry elixir has soothing supportive action for the immune system and it creates antioxidant activity that aids in regulating the immune system, and helps in treating cough, colds, flu, and various bacterial, and viral infections.

Usually, elderberry elixirs are organic or herbal supplements that can be used to improve immune function and fight against cold and flu. Some organic ingredients found mostly in elderberry elixir are elderberry extract, cinnamon bark extract, ginger root extract, raw honey extract, and some more herbs. These elixirs are available in herbal stores and can also be prepared at home easily. More on this has been discussed in the later part of this article.

The Power of Elderberry Elixir in Boosting Immunity Against Colds and Flu Naturally

Black elderberries have been used in herbal medicine since ancient times and elderberry elixir has gained momentum in the natural health community shortly after the outbreak of H1N1 flu when a study was released demonstrating the effectiveness of this elixir in inhibiting this widespread strain of the flu.(3)

Research Findings About Elderberry Elixir and Its Benefits in Treating Colds and Flu

Elderberry elixir has been used as a home remedy for viral diseases, including the common cold and flu, for centuries.(4) Some of the findings from elderberry research include:

  • A study conducted in 2004 found improvement in symptoms four days sooner in individuals who were given three teaspoons of black elderberry four times regularly.(5)
  • A 2016 study conducted among airline passengers suggested that using elderberry extract ten days prior and five days after a flight resulted in milder symptoms and 50% fewer sick days from cold illnesses.(6) However, although this seemed to reduce the duration and severity of the illness, it did not prevent infection. The placebo group and the elderberry group had a similar rate of infection.
  • A study conducted in 2019 on elderberry for cold and flu found that elderberry could reduce the duration of upper airway symptoms, which resulted in flu when taken immediately at the onset of symptoms.(7)
  • However, a study from 2020 did not find black elderberry to improve symptoms or reduce the duration of illness. In this study, some participants also took Tamiflu, a common antiviral treatment, and it was found that those who took only black elderberry and did not take Tamiflu, had a longer duration of illness.(8)
  • A systematic review from 2021 showed that elderberry could be a safe option for reducing the severity and duration of the common cold, flu, and other respiratory infections. However, the researchers have mentioned that further research is still essential.(9)

Directions to Use Elderberry Elixir 

There is no standard recommendation for a proper dosage of elderberry elixir. However, in some clinical trials, adults took three teaspoons of elderberry extract in syrup form, four times every day for consequent five days. However, one should consult with their healthcare provider and read the dosage directions mentioned on the product label before taking it.(6)

How to Make Elderberry Elixir at Home?

Though elderberry elixir can be purchased from the pharmacy or herbal stores, one can make their elderberry elixir at home, which can be used to fight against the common cold and flu.

Ingredients Required

  • 1 kg elderberries
  • 5 cloves
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 7 gm ginger
  • 250 gm sugar

Steps to Prepare the Elderberry Elixir

  • Take about 1 kg of elderberries, wash them, and de-stalk them.
  • Put these elderberries in a saucepan with a cupful of watr and simmer it until most of their juices have been released.
  • Crush and strain the berries using a sieve.
  • Put the elderberry juice in the pan and add cinnamon, cloves, grated ginger, and sugar.
  • Let it be on low heat for another 30 minutes.
  • Strain and then store in airtight bottles.
  • You can store it in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Who Should Not Take Elderberry Elixir?

  • Without advice or guidance from a healthcare professional, prolonged and large medicinal doses of the elixir should be avoided, especially by those who have autoimmune conditions. This is because the berry would cause their immune system to become more active and this could increase the symptoms of autoimmune diseases.
  • Infants below 1 year old should not take elderberry elixir that contains raw honey.
  • Since enough reliable information regarding whether elderberry extract is sfe to be used when pregnant or breastfeeding is not available, to remain on the safer side avoid taking elderberry elixir if pregnant or are lactating mother.


Elderberry elixir has been in use for quite a long time as nature’s immunity booster against colds and flu. Many people globally are taking this elixir and also finding positive results. Using an herbal or organic form of the elixir or preparing your elderberry elixir and using it to ward off cold or flu can be mostly safe. However, For better safety, it is recommended to consult a doctor before starting any supplement. This would help you remain safe from any unwanted complications.


  1. History of Black Elderberry for Immune Support – New Chapter
  2. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Elderberry.
  3. Roschek B Jr, Fink RC, McMichael MD, Li D, Alberte RS. Elderberry flavonoids bind to and prevent H1N1 infection in vitro. Phytochemistry. 2009 Jul;70(10):1255-61. doi: 10.1016/j.phytochem.2009.06.003. Epub 2009 Aug 12. PMID: 19682714.Elderberry flavonoids bind to and prevent H1N1 infection in vitro – PubMed (nih.gov)
  4. Porter RS, Bode RF. A review of the antiviral properties of black elder (Sambucus nigra) productsPhytother Res. 2017;31(4):533-554. doi:10.1002/ptr.5782
  5. 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(2):132-140. doi:10.1177/147323000403200205
  6. Tiralongo E, Wee SS, Lea RA. Elderberry supplementation reduces cold duration and symptoms in air-travellers: a randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trialNutrients. 2016;8(4):182. doi:10.3390/nu8040182
  7. Hawkins J, Baker C, Cherry L, Dunne E. Black elderberry (Sambucus nigra) supplementation effectively treats upper respiratory symptoms: A meta-analysis of randomized, controlled clinical trialsComplement Ther Med. 2019;42:361–365. doi:10.1016/j.ctim.2018.12.004
  8. Macknin M, Wolski K, Negrey J, Mace S. Elderberry extract outpatient influenza treatment for emergency room patients ages 5 and above: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trialJ Gen Intern Med. 2020;35(11):3271-3277. doi:10.1007/s11606-020-06170-w
  9. Wieland LS, Piechotta V, Feinberg T, et al. Elderberry for prevention and treatment of viral respiratory illnesses: a systematic reviewBMC Complement Med Ther. 2021;21(1):112. doi:10.1186/s12906-021-03283-5

Other Sources:

Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 29, 2023

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