Written by Divinity Nutra, Updated on July 20, 2022
Seeing a child struggle with uncomfortable nasal congestion, a persistent cough, or low immunity can be very hard as a parent. You’re always on the go looking for practical treatment options to relieve them of the pain.
If you have ever scrolled through a health blog, you’ve likely heard of the internet’s favorite cure-all supplement, elderberry. From viral diseases to constipation and even chronic health problems, the use of elderberries for infants and kids is seemingly everywhere.
Perhaps you’re understandably hesitant to feed an herbal supplement to your child without sufficient evidence. Is elderberry safe for kids? Let’s find out.
Elderberry for Kids
Nutritionists often advocate for antioxidant-rich diets for the growth and development of children. The highest selling point for elderberry supplements is their antioxidant capacity. It comes in a nutrient-rich composition that supplies many of the vitamins, polyphenols, and minerals required for the body.
However, no matter how hard we try for healthy diets, it’s difficult to eliminate unhealthy food options from the surroundings completely. Therefore, elderberry supplements ensure that the body never runs out of its essential micronutrients.
Before we get into the research, let’s discuss the origin and history of elderberries in more detail.
What is Elderberry?
Black elderberry (Sambucus nigra) is a dark, purple berry of European descent that is presently acknowledged worldwide for its healing tendencies. This is due in large part to its flavonoid and anthocyanin content.
The therapeutic benefits of elderberry first made waves in folk medicine. Allegedly, Hippocrates referred to the berries as his “medicine chest” as he set out the basis of clinical medicine. The following generations, be it the early Greeks or indigenous Americans, took up the beliefs, as well.
Today, the berries enjoy an esteemed reputation for curing all forms of respiratory, systemic, and chronic diseases.
Is Elderberry Safe for Kids?
Antioxidant supplements such as elderberry are often the focal concern of several trials and research studies. Many of them focused on their influence on child health and development.
While many of the studies don’t specifically mention elderberry, it is still classified as an antioxidant supplement. Thus, reasonable inferences to its safety profile can be made.
First, we have a pivotal study from The Journal of Nutrition linking antioxidant supplements to reduced oxidative stress and improved liver function in obese children. It suggests that supplement intake, such as elderberry with vitamin C and zinc, is an effective adjunctive therapy for several ailments. (1)
A controlled clinical trial from 2013 aimed to understand the effect of nutritional supplements on the antioxidant capacity in asthmatic children. It found that regular supplementation helped reduce pulmonary inflammation in the children. (2)
Another study from the European Respiratory Journal further supports this hypothesis. The study directly examines the role of dietary antioxidants in lung function development in children. It emphasizes the need for children to consume dietary antioxidants to control asthma symptoms. (3)
Another randomized trial targets antioxidant supplements for children with type I diabetes. It showed that multimicronutrient supplements help control the symptoms of hyperglycemia. (4)
These research studies lead us to the conclusion that elderberry supplements may also be well-tolerated by children for short durations. By sticking to the recommended dosing range, your child is unlikely to experience any adverse effects during short-term usage.
Is Elderberry Safe for Infants?
The findings from a 2015 research trial give us a sound foundation to consider using elderberry for infants. It concluded that vitamin C, E, and other antioxidants are essential for women after delivery to improve the antioxidant capacity of breastmilk. Ultimately, it helps provide immune support to the infant. (5)
With that said, the study didn’t use elderberry directly. It simply noted that antioxidants are still important, even for infants. High-profile elderberry syrups have minimal side effects so they’re likely safe in very small quantities.
Still, in the case of a newborn, speak with a doctor or certified medical professional before deciding on using elderberry. An infant’s digestive system is only beginning to develop. Your physician will likely tell you to wait until they are at least 2 years old before administering elderberry.
Benefits of Elderberry for Kids
- Boosts Immune System: Elderberry’s rich blend of vitamins, zinc, anthocyanins, and flavonoids lends immense immune support to the body. It activates an adequate immune response, particularly for colds and flu, and even COVID.
- Reduces Bodily Inflammation: Like turmeric, elderberries are packed with a high antioxidant capacity to reduce oxidative stress in the body and relieve inflammation. It is a well-reputed anti-inflammatory therapy for allergies and diseases like arthritis.
- Supports Digestion: The nutrients from the elderberry extract are readily absorbed in the bloodstream to stimulate the growth of good bacteria in the body. It is an effective remedy to improve gut health and alleviate the discomfort from constipation and IBS.
- Improves Heart Health: Elderberry is a highly effective agent to control the common trigger factors for cardiovascular problems. It relaxes the lining of the blood vessels to regulate healthy blood pressure Supplementation of elderberries also helps manage the amount of good cholesterol in the body. Research also shows that it reduces insulin resistance to prevent the chance of developing diabetes.
- Fights Chronic Diseases: Elderberry extract is a chemopreventive agent with many cancer-inhibiting properties. It reduces tumor cell proliferation and cancer growth in various kinds of cancer in the body.
- Enhances Skin Health: Elderberry supplementation highly contributes to the skin’s health, hydration, and aging. It can reduce the photoaging process by improving skin health. It is also effective to treat skin wounds, such as acne scars. Research shows that it boosts scalp health and may promote hair growth in individuals.
How to Take Elderberry for Immune Support
There are three ways you can take elderberry for immune support of the child.
Elderberry gummies for kids are the best bet for making your child consume the extract. They are great for children afraid of swallowing pills or capsules. They come in palatable packing and are easy to chew and full of flavor and immunity.
Gummies also come with the added advantage of essential micronutrients. They combine vitamin C and zinc to package a thoroughly beneficial product for three-way immune system support.
Homemade elderberry syrup can be a good option to treat mild symptoms. However, the store-bought versions are pricier and a bit less effective than gummies. Syrups often lack the added vitamin C and zinc, which are critical for enhanced immune support.
Homemade elderberry tea may serve as a warm, healthy beverage to drink after meals. However, tea lacks the extra punch of added vitamin C and zinc to provide immune support.
How much elderberry can I give my child? Taking 150-300 mg of elderberry extract every day is safe and effective for children. If you’re using a supplement, make sure you check the elderberry content on the label. This equates to about 2-4 gummies per day.
If your symptoms are severe, you may increase the daily dosage slightly for short durations, usually less than two weeks.
What are the side effects of elderberry? A child is unlikely to experience any side effects if consuming elderberry as a supplement purchased from a trusted brand. However, double-check any possible allergies with the ingredients used in your supplement.
Do not consume raw elder fruit as it may trigger gastrointestinal problems. If the child is diabetic, make sure you are cautious of the amount of elderberry consumed since it can naturally lower blood sugar levels.
Who should not take elderberry? While it is safe to use for children, we advise pregnant or nursing women to avoid taking elderberries until proper research is available. If you suffer from Hashimoto’s or a similar autoimmune disease, you should speak with a doctor before taking elderberry.
Final Thoughts on Elderberry for Children
Children inevitably experience varying degrees of illness on and off. Elderberry’s versatility in medicine makes it a safe product for kids that can help relieve them of such frequent ailments.
Thus, you may go forward with using elderberry for kids, as needed, following the dosage recommendations above. For infants or babies, please speak with a medical professional, first.
While we understand that supplements are convenient choices to improve children’s health, make sure you stick to the traditional ways, too. Healthy amounts of sleep, balanced diets, exercise, etc. These should always remain at the core of any health and wellness strategy.
- Our Picks: Best Elderberry Gummies for Kids