Written by Divinity Nutra, Updated on July 20, 2022
Elderberries date way back in history for their medicinal use in Ayurveda, the world’s oldest branch of natural medicine. Quite recently, research about this superfruit has surged all over the internet. Black elderberry’s numerous health contributions are only just beginning to be unraveled.
This article is an embodiment of the major headlines to give you a complete overview of black elderberry, its origins, and its health benefits. We’ll also analyze any potential side effects and ideal dosage recommendations. Let’s dive in!
What is Black Elderberry?
Elderberry grows on the elder tree which has its origins in Europe but is also found in North America, Asia, and Northern Africa. In scientific terminology, the European elderberry, also known as black elderberry, is called Sambucus nigra while the American species is known as Sambucus canadensis. Red elderberry goes by Sambucus racemona whereas the blue one is called Sambucus cerulea.
Black elderberry has a dark purple color and a round shape. It is well-known for treating viral infections as its packed full of antioxidants. It is one of the conventional remedies relied upon by people for bolstering immunity thanks in large part to its anthocyanin and flavonoid content.
What are Anthocyanins?
These polyphenols are one of the reasons behind elderberries’ magical characteristics in the medicinal domain. The antioxidative nature of anthocyanins fights off free radicals in the body which can otherwise lead to the build-up of oxidative stress. If left unchecked, oxidative stress can cause cellular damage and provoke the development of chronic diseases.
Black elderberries have high amounts of anthocyanins. It is this pigment that gives these berries their dark purple color. Anthocyanins help against diabetes, cancer, inflammation, obesity, and risks to cardiovascular health. This pharmaceutical potential makes elderberry supplements useful in natural treatment regimens. (1)
What are Flavonoids?
This is another of the black elderberry’s polyphenolic content. More accurately, anthocyanins belong to the ‘flavonoid’ family. These are thus antioxidants, too, and play a role parallel to anthocyanins, especially as an anti-inflammatory agent.
Apart from combating unstable molecules produced inside the body, flavonoids augment the immune system, help lower blood pressure, decrease the risk of heart diseases, and also reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. Various studies have proven their antibacterial and antiviral outcomes. (2)
Black Elderberry vs Elderberry
What is the difference between elderberry and black elderberry? The black elderberry has notably higher amounts of antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, and phenolic acid than other species of elderberry, making them one of the best sources of anthocyanins and flavonoids.
The tree variety that bears elderberries is recognized as Sambucus. When this generalization is dissected, the black elderberry specifically is said to emerge from the elder tree that is native to Europe. This European elder is thus called Sambucus Nigra, a species of the elder family.
While the broad term “elderberry” may also refer to the American elder, “black elderberry” only refers to its European origin.
Findings by the University of California suggest that black elderberries have higher levels of anthocyanins when compared to blue elderberries while the organic acid and sugar levels are similar. (3)
Hence, the anthocyanin status determines the immune-boosting potential of the berries, and black elderberry is the winner in this regard.
Black Elderberry Benefits and Uses
There are a plethora of black elderberry health benefits including but not limited to the following:
- Boosts Immune System: The most extensively researched use of black elderberries is for immune system support. Research has proven that black elderberry increases the immune system’s activity, making it more effective against foreign invaders. Elderberry has long been believed to lessen the duration and ease the symptoms of the cold and flu, while also providing some level of relief during bouts with COVID.
- Reduces Bodily Inflammation: Elderberries have a proven record in reducing inflammation, especially in the respiratory tract. This also makes it effective against allergies and asthma, similar to other natural anti-inflammatories, like turmeric.
- Supports Digestion: The antibacterial property of elderberry is beneficial for overall gut health and digestion. Studies have also proven that elderberry helps relieve constipation and improves daily bowel evacuations.
- Improves Heart Health: Studies have shown that the polyphenols in black elderberries can significantly regulate blood sugar They could also aid in reducing the chance of type 2 diabetes. Polyphenols are also effective in lowering blood pressure while helping the body balance HDL and LDL cholesterol.
- Fights Chronic Diseases: According to several studies, antioxidants protect your body’s cells from harm caused by free radicals. Free radicals are erratic particles that may harm cells and ultimately cause cancer. Consuming black elderberries may reduce your chances of developing cancer since they contain more antioxidants than nearly every other edible berry.
- Enhances Skin Health: Elderberry aids the body in shielding healthy cells from the damaging free radicals that contribute to skin disorders. Elderberries help calm the skin, decrease wrinkles, and reduce the appearance of age spots. The vitamin C present in elderberries can help boost collagen synthesis and overall skin health.
Side Effects and Dosage
Does black elderberry have side effects? Elderberry side effects are rare and mild when following the proper dosage recommendations, which we’ll discuss below. However, there are a few things you should be aware of.
- Consuming raw elderberries (or parts of the elder tree) is toxic and may cause an upset stomach, diarrhea, and vomiting.
- Since elderberry is high in fiber, eating too much can lead to gastrointestinal issues and cramps in the abdomen.
- Elderberry is also known to lower blood sugar, so if you have diabetes, use extra caution when consuming them or taking a supplement.
Who should not take black elderberry? Elderberry for kids is generally considered safe. However, infants and pregnant or breastfeeding women are advised against the use of elderberry as research lacks in this area.
Furthermore, people suffering from autoimmune diseases are also not recommended because of elderberry drug interactions with immunosuppressants that may result in immune system hyperactivity.
How much elderberry should you take per day? Knowing how much elderberry per day you should take, and staying within the range, is vital for best results and safe administration. The ideal dosing range is between 150-300 mg of elderberry extract, which can be consumed daily. This equals about 2-4 elderberry gummies or 3-4 tablespoons of elderberry syrup (depending on the brand).
For short periods (two weeks or less), dosages can be increased to a maximum of 1,200 mg per day when fighting off a severe cold and flu.
Best Way to Take Elderberry
In the modern world, elderberries come in various preferential forms. For example:
The wholistic benefits of elderberry gummies provide the best way to improve immunity. This is due to its combination of elderberry with zinc and vitamin C. This harmonious formula provides exceptional levels of immunity with an equally delectable taste. Gummies are loved extensively due to their safe and convenient consumption, and ease of use compared to elderberry capsules.
Elderberry syrup is thought of as an alternative to gummies. The off-the-shelf syrups available in health stores are certainly good quality and provide immunity. They work quite well, but the supplements are usually pricier, and less effective due to their lack of added vitamin C and zinc.
Elderberry tea is another competitor in the health market, particularly demanded in cold weather or when someone catches a viral cold. Similar to syrup, it provides slightly less immunity due to a lack of extra zinc and vitamin C that gummies offer. But, a hot cup of tea may still provide soothing effects.
Final Thoughts on Black Elderberry
Black elderberry from the European elder tree is a subspecies of the elderberry family. With elderberries attracting more spotlight every day, research has identified the superiority of black elderberries over other types.
The most prominent distinguishing feature is the higher anthocyanin content. Most black elderberry benefits appear to be altered by this single feature. All in all, elderberry is a powerful nutritional supplement that can be safely added to your daily regimen, or provide a timely immune boost when you need it.
- Our Picks: Best Elderberry Gummies