- What is elderberry? Elderberry is a small purple berry from the European (or black) elder bush (Sambucus nigra). Among the berry's chemical constituents are phenolic compounds that include anthocyanosides that laboratory tests show to have immune-stimulating, anti-microbial, and other properties (see What It Is).
- What does elderberry do? Small, company-funded clinical studies have shown various elderberry extracts to reduce the duration of cold and flu symptoms, but they do not prevent colds or flu. The chemical make-up of these extracts and the most effective dosing, however, has not been well-defined (see What It Does).
- What did CL's tests of elderberry find? ConsumerLab found that the amounts of anthocyanosides in elderberry products ranged more than 2,000-fold — from as little as 0.02 mg to 69.3 mg per suggested serving. This suggests that each product was made with at least some, if not a large amount, of elderberry. However, it is still not clear what amount, if any, indicates that a product will be effective. Even two versions of a popular and clinically-tested elderberry brand differed significantly in their amounts of anthocyanosides and neither formulation exactly matched what was shown to work clinically (see What CL Found).
- Which is the best elderberry supplement? Due to a lack of clinical and scientific research, it remains difficult to know whether any of the elderberry supplements truly work. However, for those still interested in trying elderberry, CL selected two Top Picks for Elderberry — one that provides the most anthocyanosides and the other that appears to be most similar (although not identical) to a product shown to work clinically.
- Elderberry safety and side effects: Elderberry supplements are generally well tolerated, although allergic reactions can occur. Do not eat raw elderberries, as they can be toxic. For more details see Concerns and Cautions.