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You will discover a variety of health related articles on this page from various sources, some of them links to published medical research by several universities on elderberry. Check out the research articles on our Symposium page, too. Our objective is to give you a good start in your own research because we growers are motivated to sustainably produce high quality fruits and flowers with great taste and potentially great health benefits for our customers as well as for our farmers. We encourage you to extend your research beyond our website. 

The Facts on Black Elderberry and COVID-19
"Elderberry is not likely to be able to cause CRS to happen by itself, and there have been no causative links of Elderberry or any herbs associated with CRS. CRS is caused by a severe amount of damage to the tissues and activated immune cells in later stages of infection, and therefore should be managed by medical professionals. Cytokine storms are rare in human physiology, and consequently we do not have a history of managing them with Elderberry.”

Exploring Economic Opportunities and Health Benefits of Elderberry in Missouri 

By Chung-Ho Lin, Anuradha Roy, Zhentian Lei, Lloyd Sumner, Namrita Lall, Andrew L. Thomas, Zhen Cai, Efrat Novianus, Van Ho, Michael A. Gold.  A publication of the University of Missouri Center for Agroforestry, part of the Agroforestry in Action Series 
A multi-year project has begun at the University of Missouri Center for Agroforestry regarding native (Sambucus Canadensis) elderberry’s "potential uses and formulation of the identified health-promoting compounds in the elderberry and its by-products (juices, stem barks, leaves, fruits and root extracts) through modern mass spectrometry, global metabolic analysis and high-throughput screening bioassay protocol.” This short article lists the preminimary finds of 173 health-promoting compounds identified in elderberry juice. Download and print pdf.

Elderberries Ranked #1 in Nutrition

RANKED: The 17 most nutritious berries for you

So for this ranking, we've stuck to edible berries that fit the botanical description without getting too broad while also throwing in some berries that are technically misnomers. To rank them, we stacked up their nutritional content. Areas like total carbohydrates and calories worked against their ranking, while vitamins A, B6, C, potassium, iron, and fiber counted toward a better ranking. All the berries were counted in one-cup increments in their raw form.

Elderberry: Great Taste with Potential Health Benefits,
 Christopher J. Patton, MA, MBA (A quick summary in presentation format.)

You may also find some timely articles of interest about health that might directly or indirectly relate to elderberry at the River Hills Harvest Facebook page:  

Raw Elderberry Nutrition Data

Elderberry Juice

Elder grows as s a shrub with excellent medicinal properties. It is native to North America and Europe. Botanically, elderberry is referred to as Sambucus Nigra. The elderberry fruit is reddish brown to purple and shiny black in color. It is therefore also known as black elderberry. Elderberry benefits have been known to mankind since ages, and elderberries have been widely used for medicinal as well as culinary purposes. They are also used as an ingredient in various skin creams and other cosmetics.

In order to derive maximum elderberry benefits, the best thing is to drink fresh juice of the elderberry fruits. Elderberry juice benefits are attributed to its nutrients, which include vitamin A, vitamin B, vitamin C, carotenoids, amino acids, and flavonoids. Elderberry juice is also very rich in certain essential minerals such as potassium, calcium, phosphorus, and several anti-oxidants…

The health benefits of elderberry juice or the black elderberry extract benefits are as mentioned below:

  • Elderberry juice has the ability to prevent and treat ailments and disorders of the respiratory system such as common colds and flu, cough, chest congestion, sore throats, bronchitis, and asthma. Regular intake of black elderberry juice protects you against any such ailments. Elderberry for flu treatment was being used by native North Americans as traditional medicine. Since common colds and flu are common and contagious and if someone at home happens to suffer from the flu, you can make use of elderberry for flu prevention.
  • Since it is very rich in vitamin C, elderberry juice is very beneficial in the treatment of various bacterial diseases. It boosts the immune system of the body, thereby preventing and curing various infections and diseases. In fact, elderberry benefits for kids can be attributed to the fact that it helps strengthen their immunity, thereby preventing diseases.
  • Elderberry is also antiviral in action, and as such, it is a potent cure for viral diseases like common colds and fever. In fact, elderberry for colds is one of the most effective remedies to treat the condition. Also, the intake of the extract of elderberry is a useful flu remedy.
  • Another great health benefit of black elderberry juice is that it helps in keeping the digestive system healthy. It improves digestion by promoting the secretion of digestive juices, and also prevents ailments of digestive system like constipation.
  • One of the elderberry uses is its ability to combat cancer. Some of the physiological reactions in the body leave free radicals as the by-products. These free radicals initiate chain reactions that cause cell division, leading to formation of tumors, which later become cancerous. The high content of antioxidants in elderberry helps prevent the formation of cancerous cells, thereby inhibiting the onset of cancer.
  • Elderberry is also anti-inflammatory in action and thus can be used for treating and preventing inflammatory conditions such as joint pains and arthritis.

How Much and How Often
For a preventative immune boost, most sources recommend that adults consume elderberry juice in small amounts such as 1 tablespoon or ½ ounce per day. Small children and infants are often given a teaspoon a day in consideration of body weight, especially at first. Remember, RHH elderberry juice is simply nutrient dense juice separated from the berry skin / pulp and not concentrated. Many these small amounts to water, soda water, teas, smoothies or other juices for taste and convenience. Small amounts taken a few times a day seems to be more effective than the equivalent quantity taken at one time, but much research remains to be done. 

Consuming reasonably larger quantities (3-4 tablespoons/day) by adults for some days to weeks to address certain health conditions does not bother most people either, which is consistent in principle with most traditional recommendations and some medical tests. Common sense indicates that any increased consumption will probably be more effective if spread out over the day, like a ½ oz. every three hours for adults and youth 50 lb. or more, one-third to half that amount for small children.

Much of the early research on black elderberry’s antiviral qualities was done by Dr. Madeleine Mumcuoglu, who created Sambucol and presented several papers at the First International Symposium on Elderberry. Her story is outlined in this article: Study shows Israeli elderberry extract effective against avian flu

North American cool processed elderberry juice is heated for significantly less time (bout 5-6 minutes @ 180 degrees F) than the (over 90% imported) European elderberry concentrates (heated three days) or dried extract used in most commercially prepared products made overseas or in the USA. Though not yet demonstrated the laboratory, reason suggests that the cool-processed elderberry juice should one day prove to be more potently alive biologically than the concentrates or extracts. Also, North America’s Sambucus canadensis is blessed with 7 different antioxidants: the same 4 as Europe’s Sambucus nigra plus 3 more, giving it greater antioxidant variety. 

Several animal studies, such as the one published in the September 2009 edition of the "Journal of Physiology and Biochemistry," have revealed that the polyphenols present in elderberry extracts help lower the blood sugar and fat levels in diabetic animals. The extracts also possess significant antioxidant activity, and may thereby protect individuals with diabetes from the harmful effects of unstable free radicals that are formed as a result of various metabolic processes in the body. [Be sure to check out the links on the Medical Research Notes and Symposium pages.] All of the established elderberry products have a good history of providing health benefits to consumers, so experience for yourself what a little elderberry can do for you every day. You'll probably like it!

Health Benefits of Elderberry
Some of the most important health benefits of elderberries include their ability to boost immune system function, protect against bacteria and infection, slow down the spread of cancer, moderate the digestive process, prevent the development of diabetes, reduce the pain and speed associated with autoimmune diseases, help with weight loss, lower blood pressure, and alleviate allergies.  Click here to read more.

Elderberries were listed in the CRC Handbook of Medicinal Herbs as early as 1985, and are listed in the 2000 Mosby's Nursing Drug reference for colds, flu, yeast infections, nasal and chest congestion, and hay fever. In Israel, Hasassah's Oncology Lab has determined that elderberry stimulates the body's immune system and they are treating cancer and AIDS patients with it. The wide range of medical benefits (from flu and colds to debilitating asthma, diabetes, and weight loss) is probably due to the enhancement of each individual's immune system.

At the Bundesforschungsanstalt research center for food in Karlsruhe, Germany, scientists conducting studies on Elderberry showed that elderberry anthocyanins enhance immune function by boosting the production of cytokines. These unique proteins act as messengers in the immune system to help regulate immune response, thus helping to defend the body against disease. Further research indicated that anthocyanins found in elderberries possess appreciably more antioxidant capacity than either vitamin E or vitamin C.

Studies at Austria's University of Graz found that elderberry extract reduces oxidation of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. Oxidation of LDL cholesterol is implicated in atherogenesis, thus contributing to cardiovascular disease.

Elderflowers are also used for their health benefits.

Elderberry Flower Production and Cyanide Concern

Andrew L. Thomas University of Missouri Division of Plant Sciences, Southwest Research Center Mt. Vernon, MO.  This article gives a photo and graph rundown of a multi-year study investigating the whether native North American Sambucus (nigra) canadensis contains proto-cyanide glycosides in quantities sufficient to warrant specific processing requirements beyond clean harvest. 

Summary of Findings:

  • Picrate paper method was successfully used to assess the total cyanogenic potential.
  • A control test with two apple varieties showed high levels of cyanide in the seeds.
  • No cyanide was detected in commercial (processed) elderberry juice
  • Levels of cyanide detected in tissues of fresh berries were very low; lowest in juice & seeds and highest in stems & green berries.
  • Levels of CNG’s detected with LC-MS method were very low in all tissues and consistent with picrate results.
  • Detected levels pose no threat to American Elderberry consumers. Excluding stems, green berries and leaves in juice preparation is recommended.

[Click here to read the full article.]

This does not seem to be true for European Sambucus nigra elderberries, which have a history of production processes to neutralize th e potential issues related to glycosides. That is why those imported ingredients are more processed and may also be part of the reason why native elderberries taste better than the European ones.

While the latest research at the university of Missouri (soon to be published) indicates that fresh/frozen, ripe elderberries do not have significant levels of glycosides, some few people seem to be strongly affected by consuming raw elderberries or elderberry juice, where it upsets their digestive system. Why they have a lower tolerance for elderberry is not clearly understood. Fresh and raw frozen berries that are fermented or heated so that the entire volume reaches 180° F, or more have not been associated with any health related incidents to our knowledge

Side Effects of Black Elderberry
[European] "Black elderberry can be toxic because it contains a chemical related to cyanide [glycosides]. The leaves, seeds and bark of this tree may cause poisonous effects if consumed, and so can eating elderberries that are unripe or not cooked thoroughly. Ingesting any of these substances can lead to gastrointestinal effects including abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting and severe diarrhea, as explained by the U.S. National Institutes of Health. Other possible toxic effects include dizziness, headache, weakness, rapid heart rate and seizures."
Read more:

Could Decreasing Inflammation Be the Cure for Everything? 
Managing your body's immune response is key to diseases of aging

 "Low-grade inflammation.”

It hardly sounds serious at all. An inconvenience, perhaps, like maybe a mild fever or a creaky joint. In the lexicon of aging and disease, there are far more worrisome words: cancer, heart disease, dementia, diabetes. But researchers have suspected for years that all of these health issues, and more, have at their heart one common trigger: low-grade inflammation. And now they may finally have proof.

Cardiologists in Boston have reported on a clinical trial with more than 10,000 patients in 39 countries (mean age: 61) that tested to see if an anti-inflammatory drug could lower rates of heart disease. They discovered that it could. But they also found that the same drug, canakinumab, reduced lung cancer mortality more than 77 percent, and reports of gout and arthritis (conditions linked to inflammation) also fell...

What exactly is inflammation?

Think about when you catch the flu and your body temperature rises to fight the virus. That's a form of inflammation. So is the redness and swelling that occur when you sprain your ankle; it's the process your body uses to provide the healing chemicals and nutrients needed to help repair the damage.

These are examples of acute inflammation, a temporary, helpful response to an injury or illness. Once the danger goes away, so does the inflammation.

Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, is a slow, creeping condition caused by a misfiring of the immune system that keeps your body in a constant, long-term state of high alert, says Robert H. Shmerling, clinic chief in the department of rheumatology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.

Penn State Hershey Entry on Elderberry
(Linked article lists some Precautions & Possible Interactions)

Elderberry, or elder, has been used for centuries to treat wounds, when applied to the skin. It is also taken by mouth to treat respiratory illnesses such as cold and flu. Some evidence suggests that chemicals in elder flower and berries may help reduce swelling in mucous membranes, including the sinuses, and help relieve nasal congestion. Elder may have anti-inflammatory, antiviral, anti-influenza, and anticancer properties.

Elderberry also contains flavonoids, which have antioxidant properties and may help prevent damage to the body's cells. In fact, elderberry outranks blueberries, cranberries, goji berries, and blackberries in terms of total flavonol content. However, few studies have been done in humans, so researchers don't know how effective elder may be.


Read about elderberry for allergies (and related mucous swelling/congestion) at here:
Click here to read more about elderberry benefits in general from

Viruses 'more dangerous in the morning’
By James Gallagher, Health and science reporter, BBC News website, August 16, 2016

{Why it’s best to take your elderberry in the morning, though I both start and end my day with it.]

"Viruses are more dangerous when they infect their victims in the morning, a University of Cambridge study suggests. The findings, published in PNAS, showed viruses were 10 times more successful if the infection started in the morning. And the animal studies found that a disrupted body clock - caused by shift-work or jet lag - was always vulnerable to infection. The researchers say the findings could lead to new ways of stopping pandemics. Viruses - unlike bacteria or parasites - are completely dependent on hijacking the machinery inside cells in order to replicate. But those cells change dramatically as part of a 24-hour pattern known as the body clock.” Read a pdf copy of this valuable article. 

Food micronutrients explained – Antioxidants, anti-inflammatories and phytochemicals [Click on the linked title to read the article.]

It is important to understand these scientific terms when making food choices. Posted on October 2, 2017 by Sarah Rautio, Michigan State University Extensiong

Regarding Elderberry & Sugar Metabolism / Diabetes
Elderberry is known to lower blood sugar and as an elimination system cleanser when consumed in quantity. Listen to your body. Consume according to body weight and its reaction to your diet and/or medication. If under a doctor's care and taking prescription drugs, consult with him/her in advance. Food and drug interactions are not fully understood by medical professionals, so all advise caution. If other dark, nutrient dense berries are OK with your medical professional, then elderberry is most likely OK, too.  [Click here to read more.]

Another study published in the January 2000 edition of "The Journal of Nutrition" stated that water-based extracts of elderberry possess insulin-like activity and may also promote the increased secretion of insulin from the pancreas. Elderberry seems to help manage other conditions associated with diabetes, such as the immune system deficiencies, say researchers of a study published in a 2010 edition of the journal “Annals of the Romanian Society of Cell Biology." A study published in the June 2010 edition of "Phytotherapy Research" also states that chemicals such as naringenin and linoleic acid in elderberry may activate insulin-dependent uptake of glucose and help manage diabetes. [Click here to read more.

Study highlights potential blood sugar management activity of elderberry extracts
By Stephen Daniells+, 03-Apr-2017

"Polyphenolic extracts from elderberry (Sambucus nigra) may increase the uptake of glucose and free fatty acids by muscles and help with blood glucose management, says a new study from Norway.” [Click here to read more.]

[See the note below: Although elderberry has been used by many cultures for thousands of years, some confusion exists over the specifics of safe use. Some of that is likely due to the fact that different species of elderberry exhibit different biological properties. More than a few sources warn against eating raw elderberries. Others eat the dark, black elderberry regularly and point out that the problem lies in eating unripe berries, red or white berries, and in not removing all of the small twigs and leaves. We linked to an article on observing and collecting wild elderberry that communicates common sense in this regard. You will find more information about this in the general articles about elderberry.]

What Are Elderberries Good For?

In 1899, an American sailor accidentally discovered that cheap port wine colored with elderberries relieved his arthritis. This may have been the basis for a number of experiments on the healing properties of this fruit. 

Sambucus nigra – European or black elder – may be the cultivar most often used for medicinal purposes throughout the world and over decades and centuries of application. Modern research holds that elderberries may have anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and anticancer properties. 

Other traditional uses of elderberry flowers are as external antiseptic washes and poultices to treat wounds, and as an eye wash for conjunctivitis and eye inflammation. It's been used for cosmetic purposes for millennia due to the reputation of distilled elderberry flower water to soften, tone, and restore the skin and lighten freckles. The flowers can also be steeped in oil to make a lotion that relaxes sore muscles and soothes burns, sunburn, and rashes.

Chemicals in both the flowers and berries may help diminish swelling in mucous membranes like sinuses and help relieve nasal congestion. Herbalists still use it to soothe children's upset stomachs and relieve gas. Elderberries are reputed to have diuretic and detoxifying properties, and therefore considered good for weight management.

Elderberry Benefits
"High in antioxidants and used as an anti-inflammatory, immune boosting, brain-healthy, diuretic and laxative. 

"Elderberry is commonly used against cold, flu, sore throat, coughs, bacterial and viral infections, inflammation of the urinary tract and bladder infections. Recent health media have noted that elderberry flowers and berry extract or juice are often used to boost the immune system, improve brain function and heart health, as well as to alleviate joint and muscle pain."

Here is an interesting link that summarized many of the common practical uses and properties of elderberry juice. This article does not provide supporting research citations, nor does this article properly identify Sambucus canadensis as the native North American species of black elderberry. However, my own reading recognizes that most of the information is indeed scientifically supported elsewhere. I encourage every reader to research and test all health related information because no one study or set of studies provide a complete picture. Also, each person's body can respond uniquely to any nutrient.

Elderberry: The power fruit, by Chris Kilham, medicine hunter
"But elderberry is not lost in a romantic past of bygone herbalists. Today at Germany's research center for food, agriculture and forestry, Dr. Gerhard Rechkemmer is investigating the anthocyanins - purple antioxidant pigments - in elderberry. His research shows that elderberry enhances immune function by boosting the production of cytokines.”

"With scientific examination of elderberry's biological activity underway, Austrian elderberry production is increasing rapidly due to strong market demand. At 8,000 tons of cultivated elderberry per year, Austria's commercial production is strong. Much of this is due to the work of Kurt Kaufmann, a seemingly indefatigable elderberry proponent who has organized one thousand Austrian growers into a co-op, and built Berenfrost, an immense non-profit berry freezing facility where elderberries are cooled immediately after harvest. "

"In the study, various bio-markers of stress, including glucose, magnesium and other plasma chemical levels, were analyzed. "What we found was that elderberry has this extraordinary effect for reducing stress," notes Porta. It is for this reason that researchers from the US Air Force sit with us. Elderberry may hold promise for stress reduction among military personnel." 

Elderberry: a Workout Partner with Triple Benefits

Looking for a great workout partner who can get you through bouts of low energy, help you recover faster and keep you healthy? Elderberry's got you covered. Concentrated elderberry extract has long been known for its immune-boosting, cold and flu-fighting abilities -- an athlete's best ally for keeping healthy all season.

But recent studies show that elderberry has even more benefits for athletes. Rich in anti-oxidants and magnesium, elderberry can enhance physical performance, shorten recovery time and combat cell damage and aging. Furthermore, it's been shown to possess antimicrobial properties that protect athletes from illness.

Protection from free radicals
Take a dose of elderberry before and after a workout for its antioxidant benefits, which combat the damaging effects of free radicals. Free radicals rob healthy cells of electrons, raiding and destabilizing them in the process. Research has found a link between exercise and the increased production of these harmful radicals: during heightened physical activity, the body's intake of oxygen can increase by as much as 1,500 per cent, leading to a proportional increase in the production of free radicals. In addition, the inflammation created by muscle damage (which causes muscle soreness after a workout), also creates free radicals, further delaying recovery.

 10 Foods that Fight Spring Allergies
Foods rich in vitamin C and folic acid help reduce the inflammation associated with allergic reactions, and studies are finding that some herbs are just as effective as expensive drugs.” The list includes black elderberries. "Immune-strengthening elderberries are often hailed as a natural flu treatment, but the berries serve a purpose in natural allergy relief, too. Try elderberry wine, juice, or jam to tap the fruit’s beneficial flavonoids that reduce inflammation."

Ben Greenfield YouTube Endorses River Hills Harvest ElderBerry Juice

Ben Greenfield is an ex-bodybuilder, Ironman triathlete, Spartan racer, coach, speaker and author of the New York Times Bestseller “Beyond Training: Mastering Endurance, Health and Life”.  In 2008, Ben was voted as NSCA’s Personal Trainer of the year and in 2013 was named as one of the top 100 Most Influential People In Health And Fitness. 

Dr. Manny on Elderberry

Eight Natural Remedies for Cold and Flu Season

"Remember, prevention is always the best remedy. If you notice symptoms lingering or worsening, be sure to check with your health care provider to rule out any serious illness.

"Jacqueline Banks is a certified holistic health counselor and busy mother.  Her focus is on helping other busy moms in all stages of motherhood keep themselves and their little ones healthy and happy.  She uses natural and organic solutions to solve individual health problems and promote clean living.

Mother Earth Living
Why are antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients important? What is ORACS? While dark-colored black elderberry is one of the most nutrient dense berries with an ORACS of 14,500 and phenolics of 1950, what do those words mean to a person's health? In a rich context of dietary variety, this article from Mother Earth Living gives an excellent, brief orientation to antioxidants, anti-inflammatory agents, such as the quercetin found in elderberry and some other fruits.

Elderberry has been used in folk medicine for centuries to treat influenza, colds and sinusitis, and has been reported to have antiviral activity against influenza and herpes simplex. We investigated the efficacy and safety of oral elderberry syrup for treating influenza A and B infections...Symptoms were relieved on average 4 days earlier and use of rescue medication was significantly less in those receiving elderberry extract compared with placebo. Elderberry extract seems to offer an efficient, safe and cost-effective treatment for influenza. These findings need to be confirmed in a larger study. [Click to read entire article.]

Crushed Elderberry Leaves - a natural insect repellant.

Elderberry and Pets

Traditionally, elderberry (cooked paste or juice) has been used by many as an alternative, herbal or natural treatment for coughs, colds or allergies in chickens (dried berries) and other farm animals, dogs and other pets. Search the Internet and consult your veterinarian. Some cautions may be in order if a pet eats quantities of elder leaves and twigs or unripe berries, just as with people. 

© Midwest Elderberry Cooperative 2018