Whenever flu season comes around, we start to scramble around and look for all kinds of home remedies to beat the cold. Elderberries are one such fruit that has been used as a “cure-all” for all kinds of health issues, for as far back as 400 BC!
Elderberry is a dark-purple or blue-black color berry that grows on the Sambucus tree or the Elder tree. The berries and flowers that grow from the European version of this tree (Sambucus Nigra) are the ones most known for their healing benefits.
Both the berries and flowers are a rich source of antioxidants and vitamins that boosts your immune system. The black elderberries contain a flavonoid called anthocyanin that imparts the blue-purple appearance and a lot of its antioxidant properties.
But let’s not sell elderberries short there! They are also known to lessen stress, calm the heart, and tame inflammation. This makes them a smart choice to include in your diet.
This power-packed berry supplement has been making the rounds in plenty of households over the years. With many brands to choose from, there is always confusion. We made a list of our favorite 6 for your perusal.
Our Best Picks
1. Best Elderberry Gummy Blend – Airborne’s Elderberry Crafted Blend
2. Best Extra Strength Elderberry Gummies – Dakota’s Extra Strength Elderberry Gummies
3. Best Tasting Elderberry Gummies – Essential elements® Elderberry Gummies
4. Best Children’s Elderberry Gummies – Zarbee’s Naturals Children’s Elderberry Immune Support
5. Best Herbal Elderberry Gummies – Nature’s Way® Sambucus Elderberry Gummies
6. Best Premium Elderberry Gummies – Havasu Nutrition Premium Elderberry Gummies
1. Best Elderberry Gummy blend – Airborne’s Elderberry Crafted Blend
When looking for a daily supplement to take along with your diet, one that contains a good blend of ingredients is desirable always. A supplement that provides several essential vitamins along with the main ingredient, in sufficient amounts, can ensure you get the best of both worlds
Airborne’s Elderberry Crafted Blend is our choice for the best elderberry blend on the market.
About Airborne’s Elderberry Crafted Blend
Airborne’s recipe was developed by an innovative school teacher who felt the need to boost her immunity and support her health. So she combined various vitamins and minerals with the elderberry extract to make this unique blend.
The product combines Vit C, D, E, and zinc with black elderberry juice extracted from both the berries and their flowers. It also contains a proprietary blend of echinacea extract and ginger, which is also known to be a good antioxidant (1).
We know how Vit D plays a positive role in the immune function in that its deficiency is associated with autoimmune diseases like Diabetes Type-1 (2).
This award-winning supplement is gluten and gelatin-free. They don’t add any artificial flavors or sweeteners and come in yummy natural blue-purple colored gummies.
What It Contains:
A serving of 2 elderberry gummies contain the following:
- Black Elderberry juice powder – 300mg
- Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) – 130mg
- Vitamin D (Cholecalciferol) – 6.3mcg
- Vitamin E (as D-Alpha-tocopherol) – 6.7mcg
- Zinc Gluconate – 2mg
- Sodium – 15mg
Other ingredients include sugar (4g), tapioca syrup, pectin, and citric acid. They recommend taking 2 gummies daily. It is only suitable for adults and children 4yrs and up.
- Gluten and gelatin-free
- Natural flavors and coloring
- Contain Vit C, D, E and zinc
Summary: Airborne’s Elderberry Crafted Blend is a good concoction of multiple ingredients that work symbiotically to boost immunity and help support health.
2. Best Extra Strength Elderberry Gummies: Dakota’s Extra Strength Elderberry Gummies
Vitamin C is known to play an important role in the proper functioning of the immune system. Boosting the amount of Vit C in their formula, Dakota’s Extra Strength Elderberry gummies make it to the fast track to being the smart choice for an extra dose of immunity. They also contain echinacea extract which is known to have anti-inflammatory properties. Those who are usually the first ones to catch a cold from a mile away will truly benefit from this.
About Dakota’s Extra Strength Elderberry Gummies
These extra strength gummies are made in the USA with quality-checked ingredients. The formula is free of GMO preservatives and the most common allergens. They are made in FDA registered and GMP-certified labs and are third-party tested at every step.
These elderberry multivitamin gummies don’t contain any high-fructose syrup, fillers, and preservatives. To top it off, they are low sugar gummies with no artificial flavors, so their tart deliciousness comes through.
What It Contains:
Each bottle provides 60 gummies worth 4500mg of elderberry goodness. Serving size of 2 gummies per day consists of:
- Sambucus Nigra extract (Black Elderberry) – 150mg
- Vitamin C – 100mg
- Zinc – 10mg
Along with echinacea extract, the supplement has a natural fruit flavor and citrus pectin (thus avoiding gelatin) as a binding and gelling agent.
The manufacturers suggest taking 2 gummies per day. They do not recommend children under 3yrs consuming these as it may pose a choking hazard.
- No artificial flavors or preservatives
- Low sugar, no high fructose syrup
- An extra boost of Vit C and elderberry per gummy
Summary: Dakota’s Extra Strength Elderberry Gummies contain an extra boost of Vit C which kicks its efficiency a notch above the rest.
3. Best Tasting Elderberry Gummies: Essential elements® Elderberry Gummies
Elderberries do have a tartness to them, a bit more than other berries, and a lot of people may not be able to handle its flavor. Many manufacturers have tried to mellow down this feature of elderberries by adding or blending in some other flavors. Essential elements® Elderberry Gummies have hit the nail with their yummy raspberry-flavored formula.
About Essential elements® Elderberry Gummies
Essential elements® have their headquarters in California, USA and their manufacturing distribution facility is in Utah. These facilities follow strict FDA approved regulations and are compliant with their GMP protocols. They are also NSF-certified, with no artificial preservatives and natural flavors.
These elderberry gummies contain not only elderberry extract and Vit C, but the manufacturers have also added echinacea purpurea and bee propolis to raise its anti-inflammatory and wound-healing properties (3), (4).
What It Contains:
Each jar of Essential elements® Elderberry gummies consists of 60 gummies and with a serving size of 2 gummies a day, it can suffice a month.
One serving has:
- Sambucus nigra (Elderberry) Extract – 200mg
- Vitamin C (as Ascorbic Acid) – 70mg
- Echinacea purpurea Extract – 400mg
- Propolis extract – 100mg
Other ingredients include cane sugar, glucose syrup (corn syrup), citrus pectin, and natural raspberry flavor.
It is recommended to take 2 gummies per day to achieve the needed effects.
- Yummy raspberry flavor
- No artificial preservatives or flavors
- Contain echinacea and propolis extract
Summary: Essential elements® elderberry gummies are yummy delicious raspberry-flavored gummies with echinacea and propolis extract that increase their anti-inflammatory effects.
4. Best Children’s Elderberry Gummies: Zarbee’s™ Naturals Children’s Elderberry Immune Support
Our children’s health is always a priority and we do what we can to protect their young bodies from every cold and infection that they contract. Kids catch colds way more often than adults, almost 8-10 times a year (5). Since a child’s body is still growing, the immune system is still not fully developed. Taking supplements of natural herbal products can help boost their immune system. Lesser colds and infections, lesser lost school-time, and workdays.
About Zarbee’s Naturals™ Children’s Elderberry Immune Support
Zarbee’s Naturals™ was started by Pediatrician Dr. Zak Zarbock. Their supplements combine the goodness of different natural products, vitamins, and minerals with the benefits and richness of dark honey. Not to mention honey is known to be an effective cough suppressant (6).
Zarbee’s Naturals™ Children’s Elderberry gummies have combined black elderberry extract with VItamins A, C, D3, E, and zinc in a delicious berry flavored gummy using pectin made from apple cores.
They are allergen-free and don’t use any high fructose syrup, artificial sweeteners, or flavors.
What It Contains:
Each container provides 30 gummies. Serving size of 2 gummies will have:
- Black Elderberry extract – 90mg
- Vitamin A (as retinol acetate) – 150mcg
- Vitamin C (as ascorbic acid) – 125mg
- Vitamin D3 (as cholecalciferol) – 5mcg
- Vitamin E – 6.7mg
- Zinc – 1.5mg
Natural flavors and colors added are from maqui berry juice extract.
The manufacturers recommend giving 1 gummy per day for children 2-3yr of age and 2 gummies for 4yr old and up.
- Yummy berry flavor
- Allergen-free and vegan
- Added honey goodness
Summary: Zarbee’s Naturals™ Children’s Elderberry Immune Support is a great supplement for children from 2yrs and above and provides all the immune support of Vit A, C, D, E, and zinc along with elderberry goodness.
5. Best Herbal Elderberry Gummies – Nature’s Way® Sambucus Elderberry Gummies
With more and more people opting for herbal blends and natural ingredients, Nature’s Way® is dominating the market as it is all about using only herbal ingredients from plants grown in its natural environment. Herbs have been traditionally used to treat lots of diseases and have been highly successful.
Combining the time-tested knowledge of herbal medicine with modern testing and scientific research, these gummies are a sure hit.
About Nature’s Way® Sambucus Elderberry Gummies
Headquartered in the USA, they source their elderberries from the foothills of the Styrian region of Austria. They use the Haschberg variety of elderberries which contain elevated levels of anthocyanins, a key contributor to the health benefits associated with elderberries.
All the berries are then handpicked, inspected for quality, and frozen immediately to lock-in the freshness. The extract is produced without adding any chemicals, solvents, or dyes.
Nature’s Way® is a 100% GMP certified, non-GMP product with vegan certification. They are halal and kosher verified so can be consumed without worry.
What It Contains:
Serving size of 2 gummies will have:
- Black Elderberry (Sambucus nigra L.) – 50 mg
- Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) – 90 mg
- Zinc (as Zinc Citrate) – 7.5 mg
- Sodium – 10 mg
The other ingredients include organic tapioca syrup, cane sugar, fractionated coconut oil, and beeswax.
Adults and children 4 years of age and older are advised to chew 2 gummies daily. The manufacturers insist on consulting a healthcare professional before use by pregnant or nursing mothers, or for those taking any medications.
- Kosher and halal
- No artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives
- Gluten, dairy, nut, and soy-free
- GMP certified
Summary: Nature’s Way® Sambucus Elderberry Gummies is a great herbal blend of ingredients sourced from select cultivars of black elderberries.
6. Best Premium Elderberry Gummies: Havasu Nutrition Premium Elderberry Gummies
Havasu Nutrition is a US-based company that manufactures all its products in FDA-approved facilities. Their products are GMP-certified and third-party tested to ensure quality. Havasu Nutrition uses only premium quality elderberries to formulate their supplement.
About Havasu Nutrition Premium Elderberry Gummies
Havasu Nutrition Premium Elderberry Gummies are formulated with all-natural ingredients and no artificial preservatives or flavorings. They have the natural tart berry flavor and are not too sweet. These elderberry gummies are completely vegan and gluten-free.
What It Contains:
The serving size of 2 gummies consists of:
- Black Elderberry Extract – 100mg
- Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) – 90mg
- Zinc (zinc citrate) – 7.5mg
- Sodium – 20mg
Other ingredients include raw cane sugar, organic tapioca syrup, pectin, coconut oil, and carnauba wax.
The manufacturers recommend taking 2 gummies a day preferably with a meal for the best results.
- Premium ingredients
- Gelatin, gluten, and allergen-free
Summary: Havasu Nutrition is all about using premium quality elderberries to formulate their sugar-free gummies.
Elderberries and Immunity
Historically, elderberries have been used in folk medicine to treat cases of flu and colds, infections, sciatica, headaches, as well as a laxative and a diuretic (7). Both the elderberry fruit and flowers contain Vitamin C and flavonoids like anthocyanin, which are known to have antioxidant properties (8).
It is a well-established fact that having antioxidant-rich foods is a great strategy to enhance the immune system. Antioxidants scavenge free radicals and reduce oxidative stress that leads to the development of diseases.
Most of the immune-boosting effects of elderberries can be attributed to the presence of anthocyanin and Vitamin C (9), (10).
A comparative study conducted in 2002 showed that elderberry extract, by increasing the production of anti-inflammatory cytokine production, showed immunostimulatory properties (11).
In 2011, an in-vitro study done to determine the health properties of elderberry extract noted that it indeed has an antimicrobial effect on human pathogenic influenza virus (12).
A meta-analysis done in 2019 revealed that black elderberry supplementation can effectively reduce upper respiratory symptoms due to viral infections (13).
Yet another study done in 2013 revealed that Sambucus nigra extract can inhibit the growth of Candida albicans, the fungus responsible for candidiasis (14).
Most of these studies demonstrate the positive role that elderberries play in strengthening the body’s immunity to fight diseases. Of course, more large-scale studies need to be conducted to explore its efficacy. There isn’t any scientific data that claims they can be used as an alternative to proper medication and therefore mustn’t be used in its stead.
Summary: The presence of flavonoids and Vit C in elderberries furnishes its antioxidant properties, which help boost the immune system.
Dosage and Interactions
Elderberries contain many vitamins and minerals that benefit the body. One cup of elderberries contains potassium, folate, iron, calcium, and Vit A and C. In addition to this, it is also an excellent source of dietary fiber (10.2g per cup).
The dosing information of elderberries is limited to a few clinical trials. In general, children take a smaller dose than adults.
A trial conducted in 2004 showed 15ml of elderberry syrup administered 4 times a day for 5 days resulted in the relief of influenza-like symptoms 4 days earlier than the normal duration (15).
A double-blind study was done among 40 individuals (children and adults) showing symptoms of influenza B Panama. They were given 30ml (2 tbsp for children) and 60ml (4tbsp for adults) of Sambucol® daily for three days. It was noted that the elderberry extract improved the symptoms faster and resulted in the recovery of these treatment groups in 2-3 days compared to the control group (16).
Another study noted that 600mg (2 capsules) per day of elderberry extract reduced the likelihood of contracting a cold and even sped up the recovery time (17).
On average, elderberry supplements contain 100-300mg of elderberry extract along with other added ingredients to increase the potency of the supplement. It is advisable to follow the manufacturers’ recommendations.
Not many drug interactions are recorded with regards to elderberries. A couple of them are,
1. Autoimmune diseases: Elderberries can increase the immune system. In cases where the body’s immune system is not in check, as in cases of autoimmune diseases (like multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus) the treatment is administering immunosuppressive medications. Elderberry supplements may counteract this and must be taken with caution.
2. Diuretics: Elderberries are also diuretic, i.e. they can increase urine production. So it may increase the effects of diuretic medications.
Summary: Most elderberry supplements provide a good amount of extract to benefit immunity and help fight colds and flu. It can reduce the effects of immunosuppressive medicines and increase the effects of diuretics.
Risks and Side Effects
Elderberry extract is fairly safe, so it can supplement our diet. Although, there are a few things to keep in mind.
1. It isn’t safe to eat the berries unripened or raw since it can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
2. The roots, stem, leaves, or seeds are toxic as they contain a type of cyanide called glycoside.
3. Pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers would be wise to be cautious and avoid using since there aren’t many studies noting its effects on pregnancy or infants.
4. Some may be allergic to it, so if a rash develops or trouble breathing, they must stop taking it and seek medical help.
Common side effects may include:
- Nausea (if eaten raw)
It is advisable to consult your treating physician before taking the supplement if you are on any other medication.
Summary: Elderberries taken uncooked or unripened can cause nausea and vomiting. It is better to consult a physician before taking them if pregnant or breastfeeding.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Elderberry Supplements
Can elderberries protect me from COVID-19?
Although elderberry extract has been shown to have a positive effect on reducing the duration of flu and colds and may boost the immune system, there isn’t any published research on the effect of elderberries on COVID-19, and therefore no evidence to support using it to prevent contracting the disease.
The best choice to fight the viral infection remains healthy lifestyle choices and proven prevention protocols.
Is it safe during pregnancy to protect from flu and colds?
The truth is that although there isn’t any evidence showing that elderberries cause birth defects in infants or that they harm the pregnant mother, there isn’t any data regarding elderberry use in pregnancy either.
In light of this, most healthcare workers are reluctant to recommend using elderberry supplements to pregnant or breast-feeding mothers. It is wiser to rule on the side of caution and avoid supplementation without consulting your doctor.
Can elderberries fight cancer?
A few studies have revealed that the substances found in berries like elderberries have anticarcinogenic potential and have significant chemopreventive potential (18), (19).
There aren’t any human or animal studies that have evaluated the effect of elderberry extract on treating or preventing cancer. There are, however, several in-vitro studies that suggest they may have anticancer effects.
A study done on skin cells treated with elderberry extract showed that the extract helped reduce the production of a protein required for the development of new blood vessels. New blood vessels are required for tumors to grow (20). Another study done on human breast cancer cells and bone cancer cells documented that elderberry extract high in triterpenoid acids resulted in cell death (21).
Since there isn’t any in-vivo evidence of its efficacy, establishing the use of elderberry extract to treat cancer cannot be fully committed.
The Final Note
Elderberry extract has been used for centuries in European and Native American folk medicine and has proven itself to be quite useful in augmenting the body’s defense, the immune system.
These berries are power-packed with vitamins and minerals that have antioxidant properties so it’s a great supplement to take with your regular diet. They can be especially useful for those of us who are usually the first ones to catch a cold.
There are many brands on the market catering to elderberry supplements, and gummies are the easiest and the more preferred form of supplement there is. Many of them are combined with a few other elements which add to the berry’s effect.
It is important to choose the right brand and avoid elements that may cause allergies. We have tried to make that decision easier for you by listing out our favorite choices for elderberry gummy supplements.
It is always advisable, before deciding on taking an elderberry supplement, to consult your healthcare provider and choose a brand that works for you.