If you’ve noticed that elderberry is suddenly everywhere, you’re not imagining it. This herbal superhero is popping up all over store shelves and social media feeds. Last year, it was the third best-selling herbal supplement in the United States — with good reason. This stuff works!
But how much do you know about this intriguing plant? We’re here to spill the beans about the history, fun facts, and science around elderberry.
Elderberry History and Folklore
Cultural beliefs around an herb can tell you a lot. Elderberry is a prime example.
- In some folk cultures, the elder tree was thought to protect from evil, but in others, witches were believed to congregate around the tree. Clearly, people back in the day knew this was a powerful plant!
- The Elder wand in the last Harry Potter book was made from the branch of an elder tree. There’s that power theme again.
- Magic aside, people in many cultures as diverse as Native Americans, ancient Romans, and Russians have long had a specific use for elderberry: immune health.*
Here are some fun facts about elderberry we’re betting you didn’t know!
- Elderberry is a flowering shrub or tree that produces dark purple berries. The deep color is a giveaway that there’s a secret weapon in elderberry — anthocyanins. These blue-purple pigments, along with elderberry’s vitamin C content, are most likely the source of the herb’s potency. (Sorry, witches. It’s not you.)
- Where is elderberry from? It grows mostly in the Northern hemisphere (Europe and North America), but also in some areas of South America
- Elderberries provide food for birds and other animals, but people should not eat them raw. They’re actually poisonous! That’s right, in their raw form, elderberries contain cyanide. Thankfully, cooking renders them both harmless and tasty. Phew!
- It’s hard to find the fresh berries in the U.S. (maybe because stores don’t want to poison you?), but elderberry jam and syrups are more common. When cooked, elderberry tastes like a tarter version of grape jelly.
A lot of the time, the hype about an herb isn’t backed up by science. That’s not the case with elderberry.
- A newly published review of 33 studies on different immune supplements concluded elderberry had a “favorable effect” on upper respiratory tract health.*<1> The authors considered it one of the best-proven remedies they studied.
- Several clinical studies from all over the world have found that elderberry helped folks who were under the weather feel better faster.*<2>,<3>,<4>,<5> The volunteers in these studies included folks living in close quarters in a kibbutz and air travelers — in other words, people more likely to pass along whatever nasties they had to each other.
- Scientists believe part of elderberry’s efficacy comes from the ability of its flavonoids to bind to interlopers and neutralize them.*<6> Take that, trespassers!
Wondering if can you take elderberry daily? Yes, you can! At Flora, we’re so fond of elderberry we provide it in two formats, liquid and crystals.
- Elderberry+ Liquid is a tasty twist on a traditional elderberry syrup that also incorporates echinacea and licorice for extra respiratory support.* Mix with water or your favorite beverage and take at the first sign of an immune challenge. Elderberry+ Liquid is also safe for children ages 5+ so both the little ones and their elders are covered.
- Elderberry Crystals are made from freshly picked, perfectly ripe elderberries, which are juiced and then vacuum-dried to preserve every last bit of their nutrients and antioxidants. Sprinkle into juice, smoothies, or warm beverages for a delicious, convenient immune boost.*
Want even more elderberry? Try Flora’s Echinacea-Elderberry tea, a soothing fruity mix of elderberry, cranberry, and echinacea in a base of rooibos tea from South Africa. It’s caffeine free, GMO-free, kosher, and organic. We think it tastes like comfort in a cup.
This week only, get 15% off Flora Elderberry products using the code ELDERBERRY15 at checkout!
* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
<1> Van der Gaag EJ, Hummel TZ. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2020 Jul 10;1-14.
<2> King HF. Online J Pharmacol Pharmacokinetics. 2009;5:32-43.
<3> Zakay-Rones Z, et al. J Altern Complement Med 1995 Winter; 1(4):361-9.
<4> Zakay-Rones Z, et al. J Int Med Res. 2004 Mar-Apr;32(2):132-40.
<5> Tiralongo E, Wee SS, Lea RA. Nutrients. 2016 Apr;8(4):182.
<6> Roschek B Jr, et al. Phytochem. 2009 Jul;70(10):1255-61.