5 Elderberry Syrup Benefits In 2024: 5 For Your Health

elderberry syrup benefits
Learn how elderberry syrup can elevate your health. Photo: Madeleine Steinbach/Shutterstock

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Look around the pharmacy. You may notice many products containing elderberry syrup, in the cold remedy aisle. That’s because elderberry syrup has powerful antiviral[1] properties that make it effective at treating and preventing colds and flu. 

However, elderberry syrup benefits are not limited to treating upper respiratory illnesses. Elderberry syrup can be used in the treatment or prevention of other ailments. But before you stock up on elderberry supplements or syrup, learn the benefits and precautions.

The Benefits Of Elderberry Syrup

Elderberry syrup should be a staple in everyone’s medicine cabinet. It can be purchased in pharmacies or made in your own home. Its medicinal properties include:

  • Helping with constipation.
  • Treating colds and viruses.
  • Reducing inflammation.
  • Improving exercise performance.
  • Being high in nutrients and antioxidants.

Five Elderberry Syrup Benefits 

Benefits Of Elderberry Syrup
Elderberry has many medicinal properties. Photo: Adam J/Shutterstock

There are many elderberry syrup uses. Before reaching for prescription medication, consider if using elderberry syrup may help alleviate your symptoms.

Helps With Constipation 

Constipation is not a disease, but a condition[2] that can be short-term or chronic. Some practitioners may suggest oral laxatives to resolve constipation; however, using elderberry[3] in an herbal mixture may be a safer and more effective remedy for constipation.

Speak with a qualified medical provider who can recommend a dosage and duration to take elderberry syrup for constipation. Additionally, consider lifestyle and diet modifications that can help with constipation. You may also wish to ask your doctor about taking digestive supplements including fruit and vegetable supplements.

Treats Colds And Viral Infections

Most cold and flu aisles in pharmacies have elderberry syrup products next to fever reducers and cough suppressants. This is because elderberry syrup is known for helping prevent and treat[4] viral respiratory illness. In treating viral infections, elderberry syrups help reduce cold and flu symptoms[5] including cough, congestion, and sore throats.

Reduces Inflammation

Studies show that elderberry’s dense antioxidant makeup contributes to its powerful anti-inflammatory effects.[6] This holds significant potential for a range of serious diseases. These include cardiovascular, kidney, and liver disease, diabetes, obesity, cancer, and neurological diseases which are all driven by systemic chronic inflammation.[7] 

Improves Exercise Performance

You don’t need to be sick to take elderberry syrup — studies show that black elderberry syrup’s benefits also include improved exercise performance.[8] Specifically, elderberries may increase blood flow and reduce blood pressure by improving nitric oxide production. This can improve exercise endurance and recovery, as well as heart function.

High In Nutrients And Antioxidants

Berries are an excellent source[9] of antioxidants, accounting for the many health benefits of berries. Elderberries are no exception. Elderberries are high in antioxidants,[10] which gives them immune-boosting, disease-fighting, inflammation-reducing, and cell-repairing power. 

Aside from antioxidants, elderberries are rich in vitamins and minerals.[11] Among them are phosphorus, potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium, dietary fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, and folate. Consuming elderberry syrup, along with other healthy fruits, can keep your immune system in good order.

How To Maximize The Health Benefits Of Elderberry Syrup

How To Maximize The Health Benefits Of Elderberry Syrup
Add flavor and nutrients to elderberry syrup. Photo: Fuzull Hanum/Shutterstock

Elderberry syrup is packed with healing nutrients. Still, you can maximize the healing benefits of elderberry syrup by adding other ingredients to it.

Lemon

Add a squeeze of lemon to elderberry syrup for an extra boost of vitamin C. This can provide additional immune support and anti-aging[12] properties.

Cinnamon

Sprinkle cinnamon in elderberry syrup. This enhances the flavor while also adding antioxidants that can help protect[13] the heart, prevent cancer and diabetes, and reduce inflammation. Cinnamon is also antimicrobial, so it can help fight bacterial infections.

Honey

Adding honey to elderberry syrup increases its antimicrobial[14] properties and boosts antioxidant levels. Honey also sweetens the syrup, making it easier to ingest. However, keep honey portions small to stay within a healthy range of grams of sugar per day.

Potential Risks And Precautions 

While elderberry syrup is generally safe, it’s important to know the potential risks. 

Raw elderberries and other parts of the Sambucus nigra tree are toxic[15] and may induce vomiting if ingested. However, elderberry syrup is made by cooking elderberries, so you are unlikely to experience toxicity from the syrup. Still, this is important to keep in mind.

Additionally, the elderberry syrup benefits for adults may not be the same for children. Please consult a doctor for safety and dosage for children.

Because elderberry syrup can be used as a laxative,[3] consuming too much may cause diarrhea. If you experience diarrhea, stop taking elderberry syrup. Consult your doctor for ways to get rid of diarrhea naturally and consider gut health drinks to get your digestion back on track. 

Although elderberry is good for colds and flu, experts warn that it is not a suitable treatment[16] for COVID-19. 

Moreover, there isn’t sufficient research on the effects of elderberry syrup on pregnant and breastfeeding women. Therefore, pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid elderberry syrup or consult their physician first.

How To Take Elderberry Syrup 

If making elderberry syrup, always cook[1] the berries thoroughly — this removes the toxins in the berries. How much elderberry syrup per day?” It will depend on your health needs, but here are some general guidelines:

Cooked elderberry flower is generally safe to take in three separate doses daily of 10-15 grams for each dose. If purchasing elderberry syrup from a pharmacy, follow the instructions on the label.

To make elderberry syrup, cook about one cup of dried elderberries in about three cups of filtered water. You may add honey, lemon, or cinnamon to the pot while it’s cooking, or mix in these ingredients after.

Let the berries cook for about one hour, then strain out the liquid. Let the liquid cool, then it is ready! For a thinner consistency, you can add more water to create elderberry juice.

Whether making it yourself or buying it from a pharmacy, consult a qualified medical provider on elderberry syrup dosage.

Conclusion

Elderberry syrup is made by boiling dried elderberries, with or without additional immune-boosting ingredients, such as honey, lemon, and cinnamon. Elderberry syrup has many health benefits. It has been used for centuries to treat and prevent colds and flu, to increase blood flow, as well as a remedy for constipation. 

The nutritional benefits of elderberry are due to its many vitamins, nutrients, and antioxidants. However, elderberry syrup is potent and potentially harmful if taken excessively or incorrectly. Always consult your medical provider before taking elderberry syrup or any elderberry supplementation.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is elderberry syrup good for?

Elderberry syrup can be used for a variety of ailments, including treating and preventing colds and flu and alleviating constipation. Elderberry syrup is also high in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that can protect overall health.

How much elderberry syrup should I take?

Generally it is safe to take up to three separate doses of 10-15 grams per day. However, your doctor may advise you differently. Always follow your medical practitioner’s advice for dosage and duration.

Is it OK to take elderberry syrup every day?

Yes, in small amounts. However, elderberry syrup has powerful medicinal properties for constipation, colds, and flu. Doctors may advise against taking it if you’re not actively trying to prevent or treat these conditions.

Who should not use elderberry syrup?

Pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid elderberry syrup. Elderberry syrup may also not be suitable for children. Consult a practitioner for guidance.

Does elderberry syrup have to be a syrupy consistency?

No. The liquid from elderberry extract can be thin like juice or thick like syrup. It is mostly a matter of preference.

+ 16 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. 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.
  2. and, D. (2024). Definition & Facts for Constipation. [online] National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Available at: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/constipation/definition-facts.
  3. Karolina Młynarczyk, Dorota Walkowiak-Tomczak and Łysiak, G.P. (2018). Bioactive properties of Sambucus nigra L. as a functional ingredient for food and pharmaceutical industry. Journal of Functional Foods, [online] 40, pp.377–390. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jff.2017.11.025.
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  7. Furman, D., Campisi, J., Verdin, E., Carrera-Bastos, P., Targ, S., Franceschi, C., Ferrucci, L., Gilroy, D.W., Fasano, A., Miller, G.W., Miller, A.H., Mantovani, A., Weyand, C.M., Nir Barzilai, Goronzy, J.J., Rando, T.A., Effros, R.B., Lucía, A., Kleinstreuer, N. and Slavich, G.M. (2019). Chronic inflammation in the etiology of disease across the life span. Nature Medicine, [online] 25(12), pp.1822–1832. doi:https://doi.org/10.1038/s41591-019-0675-0.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

A health coach specializing in Integrative Nutrition, I approach wellness with a holistic and functional medicine perspective. As a writer, I simplify intricate topics such as nutrition, gut and hormone health, mental well-being, and spiritual health,… See More