Elderberry gummies are made from the purple fruit of the European black elderberry shrub (Sambucus niger). The berries are the only part of the plant that can be consumed. Leaves, branches, twigs, roots, and even seeds contain a cyanide-like substance that can cause serious effects, especially in infants or children. Eating unripe or uncooked berries can also cause nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea, so be sure to buy your elderberry gummies from a reliable source or make them yourself from fully ripe and fully cooked berries.
Elderberries are full of antioxidants called anthocyanins, which clear the body of the unstable molecules (free radicals) which can damage your cells’ DNA. Anthocyanins also boost the immune system and reduce inflammation by slowing the production of nitric oxide, a signaling molecule that triggers inflammation in response to environmental stressors. Inflammation in itself can actually be helpful to the body, by immobilizing the injured area and bringing heat to help heal it. However, when this becomes a chronic condition, as with certain diseases, inflammation can become a problem. Many doctors believe that elderberry can help improve this condition.
Elderberry gummies can also reduce the length of time of a common cold or flu and reduce the severity of your symptoms. They can’t prevent you from coming down with a cold, but a 2016 Australian study of long-haul airline passengers showed that the ones who started taking elderberry ten days before their flight and continued for five days after their arrival experienced fewer sick days than those passengers who didn’t. Their symptoms were also less severe. A few studies have also shown that elderberry, taken regularly, can help prevent you from getting the influenza virus. It will also reduce the severity of your flu symptoms and lessen the time you’ll suffer if you do catch the flu. Of course, doctors also recommend that you get your yearly flu shot as well, since that has been proven to help prevent flu.
Another use for elderberry is for constipation. It prevents the large intestine from reabsorbing so much water, which leaves nice soft stools that increase intestinal pressure and stimulate the intestine to contract and produce a natural bowel movement. It’s also a diuretic, which means it works on the kidneys as well. Other conditions that elderberry gummies might help include headaches, fever, breathing difficulties, mild skin conditions, and stress.
Elderberries are rich in vitamin C (52.2 milligrams per cup of berries) and dietary fiber (10.2 grams per cup). One cup also contains 26.7 grams of carbs, 1 gram of protein, and only 0.7 grams of fat. Of course, if you eat a balanced diet, you don’t really need supplements on top of that. You can get enough vitamin C, fiber, and carbs from your fruits and vegetables and protein from meats or beans.
People have been using elderberry as an herbal supplement for over 400 years. In fact, Hippocrates, the “Father of Medicine,” called the plant his “medicine chest.” However, just because something is an herbal supplement doesn’t mean it’s totally safe for everyone. Just because something is “natural” doesn’t mean it doesn’t have side effects. All herbs are medications, and all medications have side effects. Keep that in mind when choosing an herbal supplement for yourself and your family.
There really aren’t a lot of scientific studies of elderberry, so doctors can’t be sure that any of these claims work. However, in a healthy adult, most doctors see no harm in taking elderberry gummies daily. If you have a compromised immune system, you should not take elderberry. You should also avoid the herbal supplement if you take diuretics or corticosteroids like prednisone. Children, pregnant women, and nursing mothers should avoid taking elderberry, as there have been no studies in these groups to show that elderberry is safe for them. Until we can get some decent scientific evidence for elderberry, as well as for other herbal supplements, it’s better to be safe than sorry with these medications. If you’re a healthy adult, elderberry gummies can be a good herbal supplement for you. But if you aren’t, you should avoid elderberry.