3 Elderberry Gummies’ Benefits 2024: What Are They? 


Reviewed by Maya Frankfurt, PhD
elderberry gummies benefits
Elderberry gummies may help with cold symptoms. Photo: Thanh Thanh

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Elderberry supplements are particularly popular during cold and flu season. During cold weather, we spend more time indoors with family and friends. We share meals, conversation, and, unfortunately, germs. 

Over the years, elderberry has been marketed as a means of supporting the immune response of adults and children facing upper respiratory infections. This has placed it in the same category as sources of zinc or vitamin C. Ultimately, some of the studies related to elderberry extract and its ability to prevent or treat viral illness[1] have been inconclusive. 

There have been some interesting insights, however, and opportunities for more research moving forward. Elderberry products have been medically reviewed for issues other than cold and flu. So, for those interested in potential elderberry gummies benefits, what can we learn from the current research? 

What Are The Benefits Of Elderberry Gummies?

Elderberry (Sambucus nigra) supplements have several potential benefits, including: 

  • Immune support. 
  • Anti-inflammatory effects. 
  • Antioxidant activity. 

Human studies have largely been related to the effects of elderberry on cold and flu symptoms. There seems to be some potential benefit for reducing symptom severity and duration, but no effect on prevention. 

Further studies would be helpful across the board for all health claims. There may be some promising effects, but many of these are seen in small studies or in animal models.

Elderberry Gummies Benefits – What Are They?

what are elderberry gummies?
Elderberry may help reduce cold and flu symptoms. Photo: Nuva Frames/Shutterstock

There are a few common health claims associated with elderberry supplements. Let’s take a closer look at what we know – and what we don’t know — about these popular supplements. 

Immune Support 

Check out the cold and flu section of your local drugstore or supermarket and you’ll likely find a variety of elderberry products on the shelves. Available in several forms, like elderberry syrups, teas, or gummies, there would be no clear evidence that one form is better than another. Using elderberry to reduce symptoms or prevent cold and flu infections is based on its potential for improving immune health. 

In a review of the effects on cold and flu symptoms, elderberry supplements[1] were associated with: 

  • Reduced common cold duration. 
  • Milder symptoms of the common cold. 
  • Reduced duration of influenza. 
  • A lower risk of influenza complications. 

Elderberry was not associated with a lower risk of getting the common cold. So, in summary, elderberry may help ease cold symptoms, but it doesn’t seem to prevent the illness. It’s important to note that these results are not definitive, and additional studies would be beneficial for providing a clear picture. 

There is inherent variability between individuals when assessing the duration of the common cold. For example, even among those using a placebo, some participants saw symptom resolution after one day, and for others, resolution took one week. Participants using elderberry saw symptom resolution across similar lengths of time, but the average time appeared to be shorter. 

The sample sizes of the available studies are small, however, making it difficult to predict a response across a population. 

Anti-Inflammatory Effects

Some of the first things that come to mind upon hearing inflammation may be itching, swelling, or even pain. These symptoms are often acute or temporary and might be associated with an injury or an infection. The body is responding, fighting an infection, or helping to repair damage. 

Chronic or persistent, long-term inflammation also goes hand-in-hand with cardiovascular disease and metabolic disorders like obesity[2] or type 2 diabetes. Some studies have specifically examined whether elderberries can lower the risk of heart disease or other health concerns. At this time, much of the research involves rodents and cell models, so any effects on humans must be inferred. 

Several studies have found that elderberry extract administered to rodents[3] has resulted in: 

  • Improved insulin sensitivity. 
  • Better blood glucose control. 
  • A reduced body fat percentage of about 1%.
  • Lower triglyceride and low-density lipoprotein, or LDL cholesterol. 

Higher levels of LDL cholesterol are associated with an elevated risk of heart attack, so the ability to lower these levels may offer some protection. More research is needed to shed light on how significant these effects may be in humans, but some of the initial results show some potential benefits. 

Antioxidant Activity

Elderberry extract is rich in polyphenols and flavonoids like anthocyanins.[4] These natural compounds can help the body manage the damaging effects of free radicals and oxidative stress. Ultimately, the effects of antioxidant activity have been associated with lower risks of cancer and cardiovascular disease. 

Studies involving the direct effects of black elderberry on people are limited, so the potential benefits must be inferred by their polyphenol and flavonoid content. More general studies involving the antioxidant activity of berries[5] suggest they may lower the risk of developing certain types of cancer. 

Do Elderberry Gummies Work?

Do Elderberry Gummies Work?
Many inferred elderberry health benefits haven’t been studied directly. Photo: Ariwasabi/Shutterstock

Cold And Flu

Elderberry gummies are most often marketed for their ability to treat colds or the symptoms of flu. There is some evidence that they may shorten the duration and severity of symptoms,[1] but they would not appear to be effective for prevention. 

Anti-Inflammatory And Antioxidant Activity

A common theme among many of the broader health claims related to elderberry is that their effects are inferred. Elderberry products contain nutraceuticals like anthocyanins[4] that have been associated with health benefits, but the studies evaluating elderberry directly in humans are limited. This makes it difficult to predict exactly what dose of each form of elderberry is likely to be beneficial for a given purpose or a person with a specific health background. 

It’s also important to clarify the difference between having the potential to lower biomarkers like cholesterol and directly lowering the risk of heart disease. Elderberry may ultimately lower the risk of heart disease, but this claim relies on its potential ability to affect the lab values used as risk factors for disease. 

More research involving humans using elderberry directly and being monitored for actual cardiac events over time is needed before making a definitive claim that it lowers the risk of heart disease. The benefits may be there, but at this point, they would be inferred or based on assumptions. 

Nutritional Support

The overall benefits of elderberry supplements are likely to be in line with eating a healthy diet. Incorporating more healthy fruits like berries can help you avoid nutritional deficits and promote general health. Eating the raw fruits themselves can also help you develop more healthy snacking habits

This kind of general support can also be found in fruit and vegetable supplements like green powders.   

Adding any new supplement or medication to your regimen is ultimately about weighing the potential benefits and risks. Your doctor can help you define these potential risks and benefits on an individual basis, using your health history and current status. 

There are some potential benefits associated with elderberry, so what might the risks be? 

Elderberry Gummies’ Side Effects

Overall, the potential side effects of properly prepared elderberry are considered mild. Side effects have been more often associated with raw or unripe berries[6] or the bark and stem of the tree itself. These contain toxins that can be removed by cooking the preparation. 

The most common side effects are 

  • Upset stomach.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Diarrhea.

A recent study related to the antiviral mechanism of elderberry and its potential use for patients with COVID-19 highlights the possibility of elderberry causing a cytokine storm.[7] This may cause additional difficulty breathing, which is already an underlying concern of a respiratory illness. This concern could theoretically be extended to the flu, but studies have suggested elderberry reduces complications of the flu[1] overall. 

Because of the impact on immune system activity, individuals managing an immune disorder or using medications that alter the immune response should discuss the supplement with a healthcare provider before use. 


Elderberry products have shown some promise in several areas, but more studies are needed before definitive health claims can be made. Elderberry is likely safe to use for many individuals, and it may reduce cold and flu symptoms.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are elderberry gummies good for?

General nutrition and health support. They may also reduce the severity and duration of cold and flu symptoms.

Is it safe to take elderberry gummies daily?

It depends on your health status and any conditions or treatments you are actively managing. Your healthcare provider can help you determine whether it will be appropriate for consistent long-term use.

Who shouldn’t take elderberry gummies?

Individuals managing an autoimmune disorder like rheumatoid arthritis should use caution because immune system activity can be increased. Little is known about safety during pregnancy or breastfeeding.

What not to mix with elderberry?

Elderberry shouldn’t be mixed with medications that affect the immune system, specifically steroids and immunosuppressants.

Is it better to take elderberries in the morning or at night?

Elderberry does have the potential to act as a diuretic.[8] If you are concerned about the need to use the restroom disrupting your sleep, you may want to take it earlier in the day.

+ 8 Sources

EHproject has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We work mostly with peer-reviewed studies to ensure accurate information. We avoid using tertiary references. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy.

  1. L. Susan Wieland, Piechotta, V., Feinberg, T., Ludeman, E., Hutton, B., Kanji, S., Seely, D. and Garritty, C. (2021). Elderberry for prevention and treatment of viral respiratory illnesses: a systematic review. BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies, [online] 21(1). doi:https://doi.org/10.1186/s12906-021-03283-5.
  2. Khanna, D., Khanna, S., Khanna, P., Payal Kahar and Patel, B.M. (2022). Obesity: A Chronic Low-Grade Inflammation and Its Markers. Cureus. [online] doi:https://doi.org/10.7759/cureus.22711.
  3. Sidor, A. and Gramza-Michałowska, A. (2015). Advanced research on the antioxidant and health benefit of elderberry (Sambucus nigra) in food – a review. Journal of Functional Foods, [online] 18, pp.941–958. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jff.2014.07.012.
  4. Karolina Młynarczyk, Dorota Walkowiak-Tomczak, Staniek, H., Marcin Kidoń and Łysiak, G.P. (2020). The Content of Selected Minerals, Bioactive Compounds, and the Antioxidant Properties of the Flowers and Fruit of Selected Cultivars and Wildly Growing Plants of Sambucus nigra L. Molecules, [online] 25(4), pp.876–876. doi:https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules25040876.
  5. Kristo, A.S., Klimis-Zacas, D. and Sikalidis, A.K. (2016). Protective Role of Dietary Berries in Cancer. Antioxidants, [online] 5(4), pp.37–37. doi:https://doi.org/10.3390/antiox5040037.
  6. NCCIH. (2020). Elderberry. [online] Available at: https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/elderberry.
  7. Sedigheh Asgary and Alireza Pouramini (2022). The pros and cons of using elderberry (Sambucus nigra) for prevention and treatment of COVID-19. Advanced Biomedical Research, [online] 11(1), pp.96–96. doi:https://doi.org/10.4103/abr.abr_146_21.
  8. Mohaddese Mahboubi (2020). Sambucus nigra (black elder) as alternative treatment for cold and flu. Advances in Traditional Medicine, [online] 21(3), pp.405–414. doi:https://doi.org/10.1007/s13596-020-00469-z.


Matthew Sommers is a clinical pharmacist with more than 10 years of experience in the pharmacy profession. He has most recently transitioned from a leadership role in a community setting into clinical practice with a focus… See More