Written by Divinity Nutra, Updated on May 22, 2022
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, more people than ever are looking for home remedies to keep themselves healthy. Using classic ingredients for treating viral infections and boosting immunity has been at the heart of many recipes throughout history.
One such timeless ingredient is elderberries. Research is limited to guarantee the use of elderberry for COVID. But, in honor of all the times it has cured a cold or flu, it’s worth analyzing all available information to reach a satisfactory conclusion about its potential to relieve COVID symptoms.
Elderberry and COVID
Black elderberry (Sambucus nigra) is a dark purple berry that originates mainly from Europe but is also found in parts of Asia, North America, and North Africa. Famous for a range of health benefits due to its anthocyanin and flavonoid content, the raw berries and parts of the elder tree are, in fact, inedible.
Various forms of supplements utilize the berry extract to present an edible way of enjoying its benefits, such as gummies and pills. You can also make an elderberry syrup or tea at home by boiling the berries to get the juice out of them.
Regardless, elderberries have the reputation of being one of the best natural ways for boosting the immune system. Thus, they are a highly sought-after product in the market today.
The question is, does elderberry help with COVID merely because of its immunoprotective properties? Let’s take a closer look.
What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 refers to the infectious disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. It was first reported in 2019 in the Wuhan City of China. As a contagious viral infection, its catastrophic effects have only multiplied ever since. (1)
Research on the virus is rapidly ongoing, both in terms of treatment and prevention. Elderberry and viruses have historically gone hand in hand, so we may hope for a more concluding stance on the matter in the coming years.
What Is a Cytokine Storm?
A cytokine storm occurs with an aggressive release of proinflammatory cytokines, causing inflammation. Ultimately, it damages respiratory organs like the lungs depending upon the severity of the exposure. If the inflammation isn’t promptly brought under control, it can be life-threatening. (2)
The SARS-CoV-2 is known to trigger a cytokine storm in the body during COVID-19. At present, we have some evidence demonstrating an anti-cytokine effect from elderberries. Thus, further research is required to analyze this correlation in detail.
Does Elderberry Help With COVID?
For eons, elderberry has been hailed as the ultimate home remedy for respiratory problems. There may be some research to validate this claim.
From the Elsevier Public Health Emergency Collection, we find a research piece addressing this correlation. This immunological point of view supports the usage of elderberry supplements for COVID. Based on its proven efficiency for upper respiratory problems and cold and flu, it hypothesizes its potential against COVID infection. (3)
The SARS-CoV-2 virus, like the influenza virus, is known to attack type II cells. It also exhibits damaging effects on many neighboring cells, such as releasing pro-inflammatory cytokines. Elderberry supplements can activate immune support with their immunoprotective effect on viruses. (4)
Since COVID-19 has been around for a few years, studies and human trials are sparse. Until more research comes forth, using elderberries for the early stages of COVID may help reduce some of its adverse symptomologies.
Is Elderberry Antiviral?
We may not have sufficient data to settle the cytokine effect of elderberries. However, the supplement’s antiviral properties are well-researched with positive results. (5)
Two in vitro studies lay the foundations for this claim. In 2011, liquid elderberry displayed a significant antibacterial and antiviral resistance. Another trial from 2019 observed a therapeutic effect of black elderberry extract against the influenza virus and its treatment of upper respiratory symptoms. (6, 7)
A large-scale study from 2021 conducted a systematic review of all available data on the subject. It concluded with a neutral stance and declared elderberry a safe supplement for treating viral respiratory diseases. (8)
How to Take Elderberry for COVID?
Here are three different ways you can benefit from the elderberry extract in order of effectiveness.
With elderberry gummies, you get a supplement rich with extract in a delicious chewable form. The berries themselves are naturally sweet, making the gummies a very palatable form of consumption.
Most gummies available in the market combine a range of ingredients to enhance the full potential of the berries. Make sure your supplement also includes zinc and vitamin C together to provide additional immune system support.
The gummies are an excellent substitute for children afraid of swallowing pills or syrups. It is also a refreshing method to consume supplements, especially for patients already taking loads of medication.
Elderberry syrup combines the health benefits of elderberries with other synergistic herbs. Several pre-made syrups are available in health stores or online. However, they are often a bit overpriced, and usually lacking in zinc and vitamin C.
Making a homemade elderberry syrup grants you the chance to personalize the drink according to your taste preferences, but it may be a little inconsistent in its preparation.
If you’re part of the hot beverage clan, you can easily convert your elderberry syrup to a cup of tea. It’s a quick recipe, guaranteeing a healthy, comfortable drink for all viral infections, including Monday blues.
You simply need to bring three ingredients to a boil; water, elderberries, and cinnamon. This will give you a mildly flavored cup of elderberry tea. Add in a teaspoon of honey to adjust the sweetness if need be.
While tea may not be the most effective form of intake, it can provide some benefits for benign COVID and influenza symptoms.
How much elderberry per day should you take for COVID? Keep in mind that elderberries can not substitute proper medical care during the COVID infection. It should only be utilized as a supplement to accelerate the recovery after the doctor’s approval.
The recommended dosage is 150-300 mg of elderberry extract per day. If you’re purchasing gummies or pills, check the label to ensure they abide by this guideline.
Potential Side Effects
What are the negative effects of elderberry? Studies on elderberry and COVID are still minimal, so you must be aware of all possible risks when using elderberry supplements.
- Avoid raw fruit: Always opt for supplements, such as elderberry gummies and syrups, instead of the fruit itself. Raw elderberry and parts of the elder tree can trigger dehydration and gastrointestinal disorders.
- Blood Sugar Levels: It can affect blood sugar and insulin levels. Those with diabetes should use extra caution
Who should not take elderberry? While it is generally safe for children, we cannot yet determine its safety for the fetus. Therefore, they may be unsafe for pregnant women. If you have an autoimmune disease, speak with a doctor before using elderberry supplements.
Final Thoughts on Elderberry for COVID Relief
Is elderberry good for COVID? The answer appears to be, yes. Surely, consuming elderberry will come with its set of advantages. It will boost your immune system, treat mild viral infections and reduce inflammation, especially when paired with other potent anti-inflammatories such as turmeric.
The situation for a COVID patient, however, is rather complicated. Research is still underway, though many support the usage. All in all, studies show many prospects for the emergence of elderberry as an effective natural remedy for COVID-19.
Remember to not self-medicate extreme COVID symptoms and consult a doctor before making any major dietary changes or using elderberry for COVID.