Elderberry and Immune Health: What Does Science Say?

The fruit, flowers, and bark of the elderberry tree have been cultivated and consumed for their medicinal benefits for thousands of years in regions and cultures across the globe. But what role can elderberry play in today’s modern wellness landscape? In this article we give you an overview of elderberry’s fascinating history, and a close look at what modern scientific studies show us about the health benefits of elderberry.

The History Of Elderberry:
Elderberry trees have been used for their medicinal purposes for thousands of years. Egyptians used elderberry to treat burns and Native Americans used it to treat infections. Even Hippocrates, the “father of medicine” called the elderberry tree his “medicine chest” for its wide variety of medicinal applications. Modern scientists continue to study the medicinal properties of elderberry and their conclusions about this versatile plant show us why elderberry has been used in medicine so consistently across so many cultures and centuries.

What's In A Name:
Elderberry is a general term referring to multiple varieties of the Sambucus tree, which has clusters of white flowers and black or blue-black berries. The most common variety is Sambucus nigra, also known as European elderberry or black elderberry. Different regional varieties of elderberry exist all across the globe. Variations in the elderberry tree family are so pronounced that until recently it was thought that there were more than 30 species of the elderberry tree, but now it is (mostly) agreed that there are only nine distinct species.

"Even Hippocrates, the “father of medicine” called the elderberry tree his “medicine chest” for its wide variety of medicinal applications."

What Are The Health Benefits Of Elderberry?

1. Improve and Shorten Flu Symptoms
Elderberry extracts have been shown to reduce the severity and length of influenza symptoms in several studies.  The most frequently cited study gave a group of 60 people with influenza 15 ml of elderberry syrup four times per day. The participants showed flu symptom improvement in two to four days, while the control group who received no elderberry syrup took on average seven to eight days to experience an improvement in symptoms. Other studies involving elderberry lozenges and capsules show similar results.

2. Improving Acne and Reducing Wrinkles
Because of the high values of Vitamin A and anti-inflammatories found in elderberry berries products made with them are recommended by the American Nutrition Association for fighting acne and reducing facial redness and wrinkles. Elderberry uses for skin have been recorded as far back as ancient Egypt where paste made of elderberry berries was a popular facial treatment.   

3. Supporting the Immune System
The relationship between elderberry and immune system health is primarily related to the reduction of oxidative stress on internal tissues by the antioxidants and anthocyanins found in elderberry fruit and flowers. Oxidative stress is caused by the release of free radicals in the body and the damage these particles do to muscle and organ tissue. In one study of fifteen different berry types, elderberries were shown to be some of the most potent sources of antioxidants.   

What Makes Elderberry Good For You?


Molecules that fight free radicals in your body tissues and organs.


Molecules which are essential for the proper functioning of the metabolism and other internal systems.

Phenolic Acids

An especially powerful type of antioxidant that combats oxidative stress in the body.


A subset of flavonoids, rich in antioxidant properties shown to increase plasma antioxidant carrying capacity.


Gives the berries their dark color and has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

"Elderberry extracts have been shown to reduce the severity and length of influenza symptoms in several studies."

What Are Free Radicals?
Free Radicals are oxygen-containing molecules with an uneven number of electrons. The uneven number causes them to react with other molecules. Free radicals can cause large chain chemical reactions in your body because they react so easily with other molecules. These reactions are called oxidation. Oxidation is a normal process that takes place in your body in moderation. However, Oxidative Stress occurs when there’s an imbalance between free radical activity and antioxidant activity. To combat oxidative stress, antioxidants (molecules that “donate” an electron to a free radical without making themselves unstable) are needed to neutralize the free radical.

How To Add Elderberry To Your Diet
There are a number of ways to add elderberry to your diet, from syrups to capsules and everything in-between. While it’s also possible to enjoy the berries of the elderberry tree on their own, the majority of research on the health benefits of elderberry have only been performed on commercially available products. At this time, there isn’t sufficient information about the safety or efficacy of homemade elderberry remedies. Parts of the Elderberry tree (like the leaves and the bark) are not safe for humans to eat without being processed or cooked first. So, don’t just start munching on elderberry branches and expect to have a good time…

In general, the best elderberry supplements for you are going to be ones that work with your daily routine. Nuun Immunity provides immune system supporting ingredients—including elderberry extract—in a tasty, hydrating tablet that dissolves in water so you can enjoy it at home or on-the-go anytime. Elderberry capsules or gummies can be good alternatives if you prefer to start your morning with a handful of supplements. Elderberry syrups can also be a tasty additive to salads, yogurt, or even pancakes. Elderberry wine also has antioxidant properties, but not in the same concentration as other elderberry supplements for sale these days. Learn More About Nuun Immunity

Like adding any new supplement to your health routine, talk to your doctor first about the health benefits of elderberry supplements. Though the raw and unprocessed parts of the elderberry tree are not safe to consume, in studies of elderberry supplements very few side effects have been reported. Elderberry supplements are considered safe for consumption by nearly all adults, but there have been no studies about elderberry and pregnancy, so the consumption by pregnant women isn’t recommended.

Nuun Immunity contains black elder as well as a blend of other antioxidants and vitamins for immune system support.

Easily add black elder to your diet with Nuun Immunity.

Nuun Immunity contains elderberry extract as well as a potent blend of other antioxidants, vitamins, and botanicals for immune system support*.

Easily add elderberry to your diet with Nuun Immunity.


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