Elderberry syrup comes from the dried flowers and berries of the European elder tree (Sambucus nigra). The flowers and berries are also made into extracts, teas, pills and even gummies. The dark purple berries of the elderberry shrub, the medicinal plant has been used since the days of Hippocrates. Traditionally known as Sambucus, it’s been praised as everything from “the medicine chest of the common people” to one of the most potent natural remedies on the planet.
Like other berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries), elderberries are rich in compounds that support immune health.
- Vitamin C, which helps several important cells in the immune system (such as T cells) perform their jobs.
- Vitamin A, which helps regulate immune responses.
- Powerful plant chemicals (phytochemicals) called flavonoids that appear to help health in many ways. Vitamins and phytochemicals are also powerful antioxidants – compounds that fight free radicals (molecules that damage cells). That means that they can support the immune system in the removal of harmful reactive oxygen species.
Here are four benefits of the potent herb—and four creative ways to take elderberry.
Soothes sore throats
High in antioxidants—and rich in nutrients such as vitamin C—elderberry syrup can be a boon for a dry, scratchy throat. Further, by reducing mucous secretions, it may also soothe a cough.
Take it…in your mug of tea: Simply drop a teaspoon or two of elderberry syrup into a steaming cup of your favorite tea. (Try cinnamon vanilla tea for a terrific combination of flavors.)
Eases discomforts associated with allergies
Given that allergies are partially due to an overreaction in the immune system, it ought to arrive as no surprise that elderberry syrup can also naturally temper their symptoms. This is due to elderberry’s high level of antioxidants—specifically, flavonoids—which naturally support a healthy inflammatory response. (Indeed, many herbalists assert that elderberry is one of the sagest ways to help manage the symptoms of hay fever.) Elderberry syrup is also credited with organically supporting the upper respiratory tract—a part of the body that’s often impacted by allergies.
Take it: …in a mocktail. Combine fresh squeezed orange juice with a teaspoon of elderberry syrup. Top with crushed ice and a splash of ginger ale or Pellegrino.
Naturally supports digestion
We all know that blueberries can bolster brain health—but who knew that elderberry syrup could naturally promote gut health? A 2017 study out of Washington School of Medicine in St. Louis, MO found that the high-antioxidant flavonoids in elderberries enhances gut microflora. (Translation? Smooth digestion—and the healthy immunity and brighter mood that often arrives with it.) Other research demonstrates that elderberry may foster regularity.
Take it…in a smoothie. Blend a teaspoon or two of elderberry syrup or elderberry juice with bananas, organic apple juice, ice, plain Greek yogurt—and, yes, those cognitive-boosting blueberries.
Protects cells from free radical damage
Due to the fact that elderberry syrup abounds with antioxidants, it’s also acclaimed for its capacity to shield cells from free radical damage—in short, unstable molecules produced by the body in response to environmental stressors such as smoking and pollution. As a result, elderberry syrup may naturally support skin health and blood pressure.