The berries of the black elderberry shrub is used to produce supplements, in the form of syrups, gummies, lozenges and teas, to treat cold and flu symptoms, sinus infections, as well as mouth ulcers and constipation – but it does have some side effects and risks.
The bark, leaves and raw berries of the elderberry shrub are known to be poisonous, and they contain tiny amounts of cyanide.
Despite its side effects if ingested raw, processed elderberry syrup and its other supplemental forms have a wide range of health benefits, due to its high source of anthocyanins – a powerful antioxidant.
Elderberries have a long history of being used as a medicinal plant. Ancient Egyptians used it to heal wounds, while Native Americans used it to treat infections, and its still used as medicine in rural Europe.
In this article, we’re going to detail how to make elderberry syrup the safe way, we’ll also investigate its health benefits and side effects, but before we do all that – let’s first take a look at the following elderberry nutrition facts.
Elderberry Nutrition Facts – (1 Cup) – 100 g
These are the nutrition facts of 1 cup of raw unprocessed berries:
Calories: 73 cal
Carbohydrates: 18.4 grams
Dietary Fiber: 7 grams
Fat: less than 1 gram
Protein: less than 1 gram
Vitamin C: (6.0 – 35) milligrams
Cyanide: 3 milligrams – this is 3% of the estimated fatal dose for a 130 pound (60 kg) person. Elderberries that are cooked or commercially processed do not contain cyanide.
Anthocyanins: They’re strong anti-inflammatory antioxidants and give the berries their blackish dark-purple color.
Phenolic Acids: These powerful antioxidants reduce damage caused by the body’s oxidative stress.
Flavonols: Elderberries contain the following flavonol antioxidants – isorhamnetin, kaempferol and quercetin.
Top 4 Elderberry Health Benefits
Alleviates Cold & Flu Symptoms
Elderberry syrup as been used to treat cold and flu symptoms for hundreds of years, if not thousands.
Studies have shown it can reduce the severity, and duration of colds and flu infections, if its taken within 48 hours of the first symptoms.
While elderberries do not decrease the chances of you getting a cold, a study has shown that it could help prevent flu infections.
Provides Pain Relief
Elderberries have been used to provide pain relief in the rural countrysides of Europe for centuries.
Though few studies exist which investigate elderberry’s pain-relieving benefits, the anthocyanins it contains are known to reduce inflammation.
The anthocyanins reduce pain and swelling, by lowering the production of nitric oxide by the body’s immune cells.
Although there’s little medical evidence that confirms this, elderberry tea may help treat constipation by acting as a laxative.
Elderberries contain a compound called anthraquinone, and its known for its laxative effects.
Anthraquinone decreases the absorption of water in the intestines, and stimulates muscle contractions in the bowels, this helps to excrete waste more easily.
May Prevent Diseases
Though there’s nothing concrete that may suggest this, elderberry’s antioxidants may help reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease.
Elderberries are rich in many antioxidants, but including them in your daily diet may not play an exceptional role in disease prevention.
There’s still much studies to be cone regarding its effects on preventing cardiovascular disease, but a 2009 study showed that it did nothing to reduce risk of heart disease in 52 postmenopausal women.
Elderberry Side Effects & Risks
As we already mentioned, the leaves, bark, roots, as well as the uncooked berries of the elderberry shrub contain toxic substances. However, the toxins in the berries can be safely removed by cooking them.
NOTE: The bark, leaves, roots and seeds of the elderberry shrub shouldn’t be used in cooking or juicing.
The following elderberry side effects listed below, are common symptoms that occur when consuming the leaves, bark, roots, seeds or the uncooked berries of the elderberry shrub:
- Nausea or vomiting
If you’re collecting elderberries yourself, instead of purchasing them online or from a health store, make sure you’ve correctly identified the plant species as American or European elderberry, as other varieties of elderberry contain more toxins in them.
How to Make Elderberry Syrup
Here’s how to make elderberry syrup at home with dried elderberries:
- Pour 4 cups of distilled water into a pot or deep saucepan, followed by 2 cups of dried elderberries
- When the water starts boiling, remove the lid from the pot or saucepan, and cook the berries on medium heat for 40 minutes, while stirring regularly
- After 40 minutes, remove the pot or saucepan from the stove, and let the berries soak or steep in the boiled liquid for an hour or so
- After an hour, strain the mixture of liquid and berries into a large measuring cup or bowl with a cheesecloth, after you collected the elderberry syrup, you can discard the berries
- After the syrup has cooled, stir in 1 cup of pure unprocessed honey and pour the mixture into a sterilized container
- Seal the container and place it in the refrigerator. The elderberry syrup will be usable up to 3 months, as long as it’s stored in the fridge
And there you have it – elderberry nutrition facts, health benefits and side effects, as well as a recipe on how to make your own home-made elderberry syrup.
If you found our post helpful or informative, please pin the following image below on Pinterest.