Written by Divinity Nutra, Updated on July 6, 2022
For chronic conditions like asthma and allergies, you may often find medications ineffective. Most people are looking for quick-relief supplements to prevent worsening symptoms. Instead, we find that many OTC options are either hit or miss.
Inevitably, some people reminisce about the good old days when a simple home remedy would solve all our problems. Thankfully, some natural supplements are still equally effective, just not so widely used.
One such product is elderberry. Does elderberry help with allergies and asthma? Let’s analyze the potential anti-allergic and antihistamine properties below.
Elderberry for Allergies and Asthma
Elderberries are dark purple antioxidant-filled berries originating from the European elder tree. They’ve been incredibly popular historically in Ayurveda, a branch of natural medicine focused on holistic healing.
Black elderberry (Sambucus nigra) has portrayed immense support for respiratory problems during this period. While its applications in immune support, constipation, and blood pressure have been known for centuries, it is now a trusted product for treating respiratory problems as well.
Before we get into the research, it’s important to understand allergies and asthma in more detail.
What are Allergies?
An allergy is like a troop’s warning against foreign invasion. When your immune system senses something dangerous attacking your body, it triggers an allergic reaction. These dangerous substances are called allergens and can be any one of the following:
- Insect stings
- Certain foods
Allergies (also known as allergic rhinitis or hay fever) can cause a red, itchy rash accompanied by a runny nose, watery eyes, or breathing problems in severe cases.
There are two general approaches you can take for treatment. The first option is to self-treat with natural anti-inflammatories, such as elderberry or turmeric. If your symptoms are prolonged and severe, a doctor can provide additional options that may include a prescription drug or an antihistamine recommendation. (1)
What is Asthma?
Asthma is a chronic disease affecting the lungs. Patients with asthma experience swelling and inflammation in the airways, making them narrow or blocked with mucus. This is how it works:
- The airway muscles tighten and restrict the flow of air.
- This causes inflammation in the lining of the airways.
- As a result, the body creates excess mucus that further clogs the airways.
Asthma does not go away on its own and requires consistent medical therapy for both quick, and long-term relief. The latter works to reduce the frequency of attacks and rehabilitate the immune system. (2)
Elderberry is known as a superfruit for a reason. What started as an uncertain medicinal belief is now a science-backed reality.
Elderberry’s antioxidant properties take center stage amongst all its competitors by bringing an assortment of nutrients together. It’s rich in anthocyanin and flavonoids which are compounds touted for a range of health benefits.
Its dietary fiber helps ease digestive issues, the vitamin C content provides immune support, and phenolic acids alleviate oxidative stress. All in all, the berries are credited for a lot of feats, including but not limited to:
- Improves heart health and cholesterol
- Potential treatment for COVID-19
- Reduces cold and flu symptoms
- Supports healthy digestion
- Benefits skin and hair growth
Now, let’s see what the research has to say about allergies and asthma.
Does Elderberry Help With Allergies?
We currently lack large-scale evidence and trials to determine the precise relationship between elderberry and allergies. However, small-scale and in vitro studies display its potential and encourage more scientific research on the matter.
A 2013 trial targeted the prevalent use of herbal medicines for treating allergic rhinitis in Turkish society. Black elderberry was one of the supplements under study. While it did not provide concluding results, it validated their growing use and encouraged further research on the matter. (3)
There are various research studies concerning the correlation between elderberry and inflammation. Reduced inflammation in the body can make allergic rhinitis more manageable, especially during flare-ups.
There also exists compelling evidence to verify elderberry as an immune booster for daily use. The fact that it’s frequently used to reduce cold and flu symptomology, including coughing and sneezing, could make it eligible for use during allergic reactions.
A 2020 report from the National Public Health Emergency Collection reported an immune-modulatory effect from elderberry in patients. Another 2011 study showed much room for therapeutic use for immune support. (6, 7)
With all of that said, is elderberry an antihistamine? Technically, no. But it does possess anti-inflammatory properties which cause it to behave like an antihistamine and combat allergic reactions.
Is Elderberry Good for Asthma?
We still await research to identify the specific correlation between elderberry and asthma. In the meantime, studies concerning other respiratory conditions serve as the basis of elderberry’s usage against asthma and other breathing problems.
Is Elderberry Good for Your Lungs?
In 2018, a research trial analyzed the effect of elderberry amongst 180 participants. It found that supplementation significantly reduced upper respiratory problems and improved lung function. (8)
Another 2020 report analyzed all available clinical studies to comment on the use of elderberry for viral respiratory problems. Again, the results showed a significant reduction in symptoms of cold and influenza. (9)
A systematic review in 2021 cross-checked elderberry’s association with respiratory illnesses as it pertained to COVID-19. It declared the supplement safe for treatment and provided notable inflammatory cytokine reduction. (10)
How to Take Elderberry for Allergies and Asthma
We have three different approaches for dietary intake of elderberry, each producing varying degrees of results.
Pick any elderberry study, and you will notice a prevalent theme. While elderberry extract supports many bioactive properties, it works best in unison with other nutrients. Most notably vitamin C and zinc. Together, they provide maximum immunity and accelerated healing.
In this regard, elderberry gummies are the most effective intake method. If purchased from a trusted brand, these chewable supplements are the best way (and probably the tastiest) to start adding elderberry to your diet. It’s a highly palatable method and easier to deal with than capsules or pills.
Elderberry syrup is another solid way to get allergy and asthma relief. As compared to an elderberry gummy benefiting from extra vitamins, the syrup often lacks the additional vitamin C and zinc that many people are looking for.
If all you seek is a warm beverage, elderberry tea may help you. Similar to syrup, elderberry tea often lacks extra vitamin C and zinc. But it’s a great way to get elderberry in your diet and warm you up if you’re dealing with cold and flu symptoms. It may even help get rid of mucus.
How much elderberry should I take for allergies? The amount of elderberry extract largely depends on your condition, its severity, and the form of supplement you choose. If you are ingesting a daily gummy for allergy and asthma relief, 150-300 mg per day is a safe and effective long-term dosage.
If your symptoms are at their worst, you may increase your elderberry dosage to 1200 mg per day. However, we do not recommend such a high dosage for extended periods. This should only be used for short durations (less than two weeks).
Potential Side Effects
What are the side effects of elderberry? Elderberry side effects are rarely reported, and often mild. Elderberry is very well-tolerated, but you should understand the following potential concerns:
- Raw elderberry and other parts of the elder tree should not be consumed, as they’re known to trigger gastrointestinal problems.
- Diabetic patients should be careful since elderberry can lower blood sugar, which may have an impact on pre-existing medications.
Who should not take elderberry? Due to limited research on the matter, pregnant women should avoid taking elderberry. People suffering from autoimmune conditions like Hashimoto’s thyroiditis should speak to a doctor before use.
- Learn More: Is Elderberry Safe for Kids?
Final Thoughts on Elderberry for Asthma and Allergies
Is elderberry good for allergies and asthma? It seems that the answer is an indirect yes. While we don’t have much clarity on the matter, we rely on elderberry’s stellar performance in past studies regarding inflammation, cold and flu symptomology, and upper respiratory conditions.
There is little on the medicinal front where elderberry has failed. Thus, we are hoping for prospective and straightforward research to support elderberry for allergies and asthma in the future.