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Elderberry

Generic Name: elderberry (EL der ber ee)
Brand Name: Sambucol
Dosage Forms: oral liquid (-)

Medically reviewed by Drugs.com on March 3, 2020. Written by Cerner Multum.

What is elderberry?

Elderberry is a berry from a European or Black elder tree. The berries are used to make medicine.

Elderberry is also known as Arbre de Judas, Baccae, Baises de Sureau, Black-Berried Alder, Black Elder, Boor Tree, Bountry, Elderberries, Ellanwood, Ellhorn, European Alder, Fruit de Sureau, Grand Sureau, Hautbois, Holunderbeeren, Sabugeuiro-negro, Sambequier, Sambu, Sambuc, Sambuci Sambucus, Sambugo, Sauco, Saúco Europeo, Schwarzer Holunder, Seuillet, Seuillon, Sureau, Sureau Noir, Sus, Suseau, or Sussier.

Elderberry should not be confused with American Elder, Elderflower, or Dwarf Elder.

Elderberry has been used in alternative medicine as a possibly effective aid in treating constipation. Elderberry is also possibly effective in reducing the symptoms of influenza (the flu).

Other uses not proven with research have included heart disease, gum disease, high cholesterol, obesity, or the common cold.

It is not certain whether elderberry is effective in treating any medical condition. Medicinal use of this product has not been approved by the FDA. Elderberry should not be used in place of medication prescribed for you by your doctor.

Elderberry is often sold as an herbal supplement. There are no regulated manufacturing standards in place for many herbal compounds and some marketed supplements have been found to be contaminated with toxic metals or other drugs. Herbal/health supplements should be purchased from a reliable source to minimize the risk of contamination.

Elderberry may also be used for purposes not listed in this product guide.

Warnings

Follow all directions on the product label and package. Tell each of your healthcare providers about all your medical conditions, allergies, and all medicines you use.

Before taking this medicine

Ask a doctor, pharmacist, or other healthcare provider if it is safe for you to use this product if you have an autoimmune disease such as:

Ask a doctor before using this product if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Do not give any herbal/health supplement to a child without medical advice.

How should I take elderberry?

When considering the use of herbal supplements, seek the advice of your doctor. You may also consider consulting a practitioner who is trained in the use of herbal/health supplements.

If you choose to use elderberry, use it as directed on the package or as directed by your doctor, pharmacist, or other healthcare provider. Do not use more of this product than is recommended on the label.

Do not use different forms of elderberry (pills, liquids, and others) at the same time or you could have an overdose.

Use exactly as directed on the label, or as prescribed by your healthcare provider.

Sambucol is used to relieve cold & flu symptoms such as stuffy nose, runny nose, sneezing, sore throat, cough, fever, and chills. Take at the the first sign of cold or flu symptoms.

If desired, you may mix elderberry liquid with water, fruit juice, yogurt, or a smoothie.

Call your doctor if the condition you are treating with elderberry does not improve, or if you have a fever for more than 3 days or cold symptoms for more than 7 days.

Store your elderberry product as directed away from moisture, heat, and light.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Skip the missed dose and take the next regularly scheduled dose.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.

What should I avoid while taking elderberry?

Follow your doctor's instructions about any restrictions on food, beverages, or activity.

Elderberry side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Although not all side effects are known, elderberry is thought to be possibly safe when taken as directed for a short period of time.

Elderberry is possibly unsafe when uncooked leaves, stems, or fruit are consumed. The elderberry plant contains a chemical that produces cyanide in the leaves or other plant parts and in the unripe green fruit. This can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, or more serious side effects if consumed in large quantities.

Stop using elderberry and call your doctor at once if you have:

  • severe or ongoing vomiting or diarrhea;

  • numbness; or

  • severe weakness, dizziness, or confusion.

Common side effects may include:

  • nausea, vomiting;

  • stomach cramps;

  • diarrhea; or

  • runny nose.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

What other drugs will affect elderberry?

Do not take elderberry without medical advice if you are using any of the following medications:

This list is not complete. Other drugs may affect elderberry, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible drug interactions are listed here.

More about elderberry

Consumer resources

Other brands
Sambucol

Professional resources

Related treatment guides

Further information

Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.