People have used elderberry for its health benefits for hundreds of years. Elderberry contains antioxidants, and many believe it can relieve colds, fight the flu, and boost the immune system.
Elderberries are the fruit of the Sambucus tree. The most common type is the Sambucus nigra.
The tree has clusters of small white or cream elderflowers and bunches of small blue or black elderberries.
Native Americans and European herbalists have long used elderberries for their supposed range of health benefits. These include boosting the immune system to help the body fight off colds, flu, and other respiratory infections.
The elderberry contains certain compounds and substances that might have a beneficial impact on health.
We take a look at the evidence behind some of the main reported health benefits of elderberries:
Fighting colds and flu
There is some evidence to support the claim that elderberry can help treat colds and flu, though the available studies are small.
In another study, 32 people with flu-like symptoms took lozenges containing 175 milligrams (mg) of elderberry extract four times a day for 2 days. After 24 hours, they reported an improvement in symptoms, such as fever, headache, muscle aches, and nasal congestion.
A double-blind, randomized control trial looked at whether elderberry extract could prevent people from experiencing cold-like symptoms after traveling on an airplane. People took lozenges containing 300 mg of elderberry extract and 150 mg of rice flour twice a day for 10 days before traveling.
Researchers found that the capsules did not prevent the symptoms, but people who took elderberry had less severe symptoms that lasted for a shorter time.
Elderberry fruit contains high levels of flavonoids, which means it might have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. These help to protect healthy cells from harmful free radicals that play a role in skin problems.
Elderberries contain high levels of vitamin A. The ANA also say that elderberries may soothe the skin, help ease the appearance of age spots, and prevent or lessen wrinkles.