Select Source Spotlight - Elderberry

What Is Elderberry

Sambucus nigra or black elderberry is an indigenous plant to Europe.  This small purple fruit has been used medicinally for thousands of years.  Elderberry is also a superfood with well characterized polyphenols, like anthocyanins and flavonoids. (1) These powerful compounds have been shown in scientific studies to have antioxidant, antibacterial, antiviral and immune boosting properties. (2)  Elderberry is rich in nutrients, such as proteins, fats, fatty acids, organic acids, minerals, vitamins, essential oils, and carbohydrates. 

Historical Use of Elderberry

Elderberry has a long history of use dating back 2500 years for a wide variety of health conditions, including diaphoretic, antipyretic and diuretic agent.  Elderberrywas referenced by Hippocrates in approximately 400 BCE and was extolled by other famous healers like Theophrastus, Dioscorides and Galen as one of nature’s greatest gifts.  (3)   Prior to antibiotics, elderberry was selected as one of the main ingredients in many herbal formulations used by medical practitioners.  Additionally, many parts of the elder plant also have culinary uses, specifically the elder flowers and fruit.   According to an ethnobotanical survey, Sambucus nigra is one of the plants most commonly used for medicinal purposes. (4)


Health Benefits of Elderberry


In laboratory studies, elderberry has been shown to increase the production of important immune mediating molecules. (5)  Elderberry flavonoids have been shown to be protective during seasonal immune challenges. (6, 7) They have been shown to modulate immune response and reduce the severity and duration of unhealthy days.   

Elderberries contain specific flavonoids which have been found in scientific studies to have a variety of biochemical and pharmacological actions, including antioxidant and immune enhancing properties helping people to maintain seasonal health.  Elderberry strengthens the body’s natural defense systems through multiple mechanisms.  (8, 9)

Antioxidant/ Anti-inflammatory

Elderberries have an extremely high concentration of certain flavonoids called anthocyanins.  The UDSA reports that the concentration of these deep purple pigments is nearly double that found in any other fruit.   This gives black elderberries twice the natural antioxidant capacity of blueberries and still more than cranberries.  Anthocyanins are powerful antioxidants that work within the immune system to support the body’s response to duress and to optimize its function.  Studies have demonstrated elderberry’s ability to reduce oxidative stress and increased free radical absorption capacity. (10, 11)  

How Elderberry Works

Elderberry Extract Supports Immunity


The mechanisms by which elderberry works, include: (12)

  • Inhibit hemagglutination by some types of viruses
  • Inhibit viral replication
  • Increase production of inflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokines
  • Enhance the activity of lysosomal enzymes; reduces the production of lipoxygenation products and reduces myeloperoxidase activity
  • Reduce oxidative stress
  • Exhibit oxygen radical absorbing capacity

Science Proves It

Originally, the bioavailability of Elderberry anthocyanins was estimated to be very low.  However, new research shows that metabolites formed during digestion likely contribute to its healthful benefits.  In fact, most tests evaluating bioavailability are conducted via analysis of urine levels, which would be expected to be low if there is significant early stage metabolism.  Additionally, outstanding research on the microbiome shows that a significant number of anthocyanins are likely fermented by gut bacteria transforming them into important, metabolically active compounds.  (14)

There are several controlled, human clinical trials on various preparations of Sambucus nigra.  These studies primarily focus on the use of elderberry to enhance immune response.  People in multiple studies using elderberry reported feeling under the weather for less time and having more mild issues.  Additionally, subjects noted sleeping better and missing less work.  93% of people who took elderberry reported feeling healthier within 2 days.  Conversely, 92% of the placebo group felt worse or the same in the same time period.  (15)

In one study, the use of elderberry in 320 travelers on long haul airplane flights, indicated that people taking elderberry were healthier and had higher quality of life scores during their trip than those who took the placebo.  Researchers noted that 20% of long distance travelers usually experience diminished health after long-haul flights, including immune system challenges. (16)

Elderberry has been shown to provide its greatest benefit when taken early for seasonal support and studies suggest its combination with Vitamin C and/or Vitamin D may provide additional benefits.  Elderberry is considered safe for most people and is a compelling ingredient for supporting immune health.

Stock up on PlantFusion's Vegan Black Elderberry for you and your family today! 


PlantFusion Vegan Black Elderberry Is  

  • Dairy-free
  • Soy-free
  • Gluten free
  • Non-GMO
  • Rice free
  • Allergen free
  • Gelatin and filler free



  1. Reference 1
  2. Reference 2
  3. Blochwitch M. Anatomia sambuci, or, The Anatomy of the Elder cutting out of it plain, approved, and specific remedies for most and chiefest maladies: confirmed and cleared by reason, experience, and history. London: H Brome and T Sawbridge; 1677
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  3. Reference 6
  4. Reference 7
  5. Reference 8
  6. Reference 9
  7. Reference 10
  8. Reference 11
  9. Reference 12
  10. Reference 13
  11. Reference 14
  12. Reference 15
  13. Reference 16