Black Elderberries – One Of The Best Natural Cold Remedies

Elderberries are the fruit produced by the flowering plant known as Sambucus, otherwise known as elder or elderflower, with the most common variety being Sambucus nigra (black elderberry). They’re mainly found in the Northern hemisphere, particularly in North America and Europe, where use of the plant’s fruit has been a folk remedy for hundreds of years.

We use them in our home, especially during the cold and flu seasons. They’re one of the best natural cold remedies that we’ve come across, cutting down our “sick days” easily in half.

The berries themselves are black or dark violet in color and have a sharp, sweet flavor. From the brands we’ve tried, we’ve found that they tend to also have hints of dark chocolate on the palate as well. Delicious! They’re great for making teas, desserts, syrups, and jams, amongst other things, or simply taken in supplement form.

How elderberries affect your immune system.

Researchers have found that black elderberries may have many anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which help:

  • boost the immune system
  • reduce the symptoms due to coughs, colds, and flu
  • aid with bacterial and viral infections
  • promote the health of the upper respiratory system
  • assist the body with detoxification

They’re definitely of the best natural cold remedies out there because they’re loaded with tons of bioflavonoids called anthocyanins and other proteins which decrease the ability of cold or flu viruses to further damage cell walls, hence speading up your recovery. In fact, studies have suggested that elderberry extract has the ability to shorten the duration of the flu by up to three days.

In addition, elderberries are also packed with vital nutrients and minerals like:

  • vitamins A, B, and C
  • potassium, copper, phosphorous, and iron
  • beta-carotene

Here’s why we made the switch to elderberries.

I had come home one day from work, where everybody and their mother was sneezing left and right. Before I knew it, that initial feeling of getting sick swept over me. So my husband and I took a ride to our local pharmacy to get one of the usual over-the-counter “medicines” to treat colds and so forth.

We noticed that just about every package of medicine contained drugs for their “active ingredients.” For example, Tylenol Cold and Flu:

  • Acetaminophen
  • Chlorpheniramine maleate
  • Dextromethorphan
  • Phenylephrine

Don’t you just LOVE the “See New Warning” label on top right corner of the box!

Then when we took a look at the “inactive ingredients,” which are still ingredients nonetheless, we found it contained:

  • anhydrous citric acid
  • carnauba wax
  • FD&C blue no. 1
  • aluminum lake
  • flavor (huh?)
  • hypromellose
  • magnesium stearate
  • microcrystalline cellulose
  • modified starch
  • polyethylene glycol
  • polysorbate 80
  • potassium sorbate
  • powdered cellulose
  • pregelatinized starch
  • sodium benzoate
  • sodium citrate dihydrate
  • sodium starch glycolate
  • sucralose

What is all that stuff? We realized that there had to be a better and more natural option than all that. So off to the health store we went. That’s where we found Gaia Black Elderberry Liquid Phyto Capsules.

We read its ingredient label, which consited of… ready for this?

  • Organic Black Elderberry Extract
  • Acerola Fruit Extract
  • Acacia gum
  • Vegetable Cellulose (the capsule)


After reading what it can do for your immune system, we couldn’t resist trying it out. Plus is didn’t have any of that other junk in it!

We got home and I took the recommended dosage of one to two small capsules a day.

As the day progressed, there was no doubt. I knew I had definitely caught one of those nasty bugs from work, and it was trying its best to infiltrate.

When I woke up the next day though, I surprisingly felt so much better. Something in there worked, whatever it was! And I didn’t have to put any of those nasty drugs and wacky ingredients in my body.

From that point forward, there was no looking back.

Every time anyone in our family feels like they’re getting sick, elderberry it is! This is especially true for when our son comes home from elementary school (you know, where kids are sneezing in each other’s faces) and it looks like he’s getting the sniffles, we’ll give him (and ourselves) a couple doses. We all know how those school-born sicknesses can wreak havoc throughout the household.

And this is key: The best results for us have come when we’ve caught the cold or flu early on. It’s best to catch it during your first “signs” of a sickness coming on.

It just can’t be pure coincidence. It’s crazy sounding, but it’s true. Black elderberries work!

In fact, during the cold and flu seasons, we’ll all just take a capsule here and there or steep some tea with the whole berries just as a preventative immune booster.

Our recommended brands…

If you want to make black elderberries an easy addition to your home, we recommend simply getting them online. Amazon has a great selection, and we found that Gaia Herbs is our brand of choice if you’re going the supplement route, which is the simplest way. You might pay slightly more than other brands, but the quality of their products is incredible.

You can get them in:

  • capsule form (taken easily with water)
  • as a syrup (drizzled in a smoothie or tea, on yogurt, made into gummies for the kids, etc…)
  • in alcohol-free concentrated extract tincture form (ml drops into a little water)

If you’re interested in steeping an elderberry tea or making your own syrup, you’ll need the actual whole elderberries. Our recommended choice for you is Frontier Whole Organic Black Elderberries.

Theses dried elderberries are also kosher certified and non-irradiated, which means that they have not undergone the process of ionized radiation, ensuring that the most valuable medicinal qualities are NOT purged from the berries.

Always remember, you want to make sure you’re getting high quality over cheaper options. Don’t be tempted! You’re body will thank you for it!

** You can grow your own elderberries if you choose so, but you’d have to be in the right climate. And this is also very important: the berries are used, NOT the branches, leaves, or twigs. They may contain trace elements of cyanide, which is a toxic substance! So if you opt to grow them yourself, be cautious and know what you’re doing.

Also, the berries themselves are highly astringent and their tannins will make your mouth pucker. They should always be cooked before consumption. Ripe and cooked berries are best.

But why go through all that? Just get them the easy way and buy them! The work’s already done for you. 🙂

The elderberries that are sourced and produced for consumption are totally safe, delicious, and are packed with a ton of nutritional benefits. So no worries!

Cheers to your health!

If you have any comments or questions, feel free to leave them below! We’d love to continue the conversation!


  • Hi,
    Interesting to know about black elderberries helping your immune system, my immune system is very low as i have had alot of bad luck over the last few years:(
    I also have just come down with a cold so your post is really going to help me:)
    Would you be able to have these in a smoothie? or would they not have the same effect?.
    I also suffer with heamocromotosis(too much iron in my body) do elderberries contain iron?.
    Thank you for the informative post, hopefully i can put them on my next shopping list.

    • Our Healthy Little Home

      Glad to be of help! As far as putting them in a smoothie?… Sure, why not? When you buy elderberry extract, it’s in a concentrated form, whether capsule, syrup, etc… So you’re essentially getting “x” number of elderberries in the particular dosage that’s listed on the product. If you buy it as “whole elderberries,” you would have to first steep them as a tea and then add it to your smoothie, etc. But it would be hard to equal the amount that’s in the concentrated form via capsule, for example. So I would just take them in capsule form. It’s quick and easy.

      As far as the iron content goes, they contain about 2.3 mg of iron per 1 cup. The recommended daily iron intake for an adult is roughly 8mg for men and 18mg for women (27mg if lactating). I believe that’s roughly 20% of the RDA. It’s tough to say when it comes to the capsule/syrup forms because different brands will concentrate down different amounts of elderberry. So I would read the labels and judge for yourself.

  • I will definitely consider taking Elderberries. In these months I live in a very cold space and I need to boost my immune system. Also I can stop eating carrots since this one has beta-ceratone.

    • Hi there 🙂
      Aside from beta-carotene, elderberries are also loaded with tons of bioflavonoids and packed with vital nutrients and minerals like: vitamins A, B, and C;
      potassium, copper, phosphorous, and iron. They’re amazing for your immune system! Lots of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Trust us when we say they work!
      Have a healthy day!

  • Hey there,

    This was very interesting. I knew about some of the health benefits of elderberries, but I didn’t know they were also a cold remedy.

    In the same vein, if I feel a cold coming on, I like to take garlic. At least, that’s what I’ve always done, and if it’s in the early stages, it generally keeps symptoms mild and the cold short. I’ve never taken elderberry before, though, and I’d be interested to give that a try, too.

    Do you have any thoughts on garlic as a cold remedy?

    • I would definitely give elderberries a try! Add it to your garlic regimen and you’ll be in great shape!
      Raw garlic is great, too! Garlic is a really powerful antioxidant with antimicrobial and antiviral properties. If you have a cold, it’s also a great decongestant. It’s loaded with enzymes and important immune boosting minerals. I would definitely keep up with the raw garlic, but try elderberries as well. Simple extract form (capsules/syrups) is super concentrated or try steeping the whole berries for a delicious tea… Maybe to wash the garlic down!

  • Great post!

    I live in Australia and elderberries are not that common out here however I think berries of any kind are great for our bodies. A health guru of mine, Don Tolman, calls berries the ‘Natural Vaccines’ for our bodies because of their great preventative actions.

    I find for me eating a whole foods plant based diet works great to and I rarely get any sniffles and certainly don’t get bad colds anymore. All my friends at work get the flu shot and then get sick with the flu. No flu shots for me! Haha. Keep up the great work,


    • Great to hear! And yes, a plant-based diet is the absolute best way to go overall – as nature intended it! Rocket science, huh? Amazing how many people out there eat “out of a box.” Pre-packaged this or that… We agree with those sentiments when it comes to the flu shots: they’re garbage and just a money-machine for big pharma! Have a great day and thanks for the kind words!

  • This was great! Both visually appealing and engaging, I am wondering what elderberry recipes are available? I love the idea of a natural cold remedy and wonder how easy they are to get within my local area? Possible at the farmers market?

    What a great addition to fruits that boost the immune system, thank you for sharing!

  • I’ve always took supplements and vitamins for health. Never to much about elderberries I’m glad that you brought this up. This will be something i can consider taking inn the future thanks for this info.

    • Thank you for taking interest! They’re actually becoming more and more popular in health food stores and even at big-chain pharmacy stores like CVS and Walgreens. The quality of the products is much better at health food stores and online rather than places like CVS and so forth… They usually only have one brand to choose from and it’s not as pure.

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