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Fifth century B.C.E., writings of Hippocrates, Dioscorides, and Pliny detail the healing prowess of the elder tree. Often referred to as the “medicine chest of the country people,” it has a long history of use among Native Americans and European herbalists.  European folklore links the plant with desirable life-enhancing effects such as increased longevity and strength.  Since ancient times elderberry has been used to improve skin tone and boost the immune system which helps the body fight off the flu and treat respiratory infections. Elderberry has a number of skin healing properties.


Elderberry has anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties which help make it a great acne fighter.  It even has anti-influenza and anticancer properties.  Elderberries can also make a mean face wash due to their antiseptic properties. Another reason to get excited about elderberry can be found in its flavonoids. What's the big deal about flavonoids? Well, for starters, they have powerful antioxidant properties and may help prevent damage to the body’s cells.

Flavonoids keep healthy cells from being severely damaged by protecting the body from harmful free radicals.  According to Germany’s Federal Research Institute for Nutrition and Food, a flavonoid called anthocyanin has significantly greater antioxidant capacity than the highly praised vitamin C.  When it comes to overall flavonal content, elderberry tops the list. Hands down it beats blackberries, goji berries, blueberries, and cranberries in the flavonal department.

Low on fiber?  Look no further than the mighty elderberry.  That small, deeply pigmented berry can supply more than 40% of your daily requirements for fiber.  Not too shabby. Adding fiber to your diet will help increase your gastrointestinal system's health.  This is fantastic news for acne sufferers since having a healthy gut is key to getting rid of acne.  You heard right.  A healthy gut is part of the equation of having clear, healthy skin.   The benefits of elderberries don't stop with fighting acne.  When we have a healthy gut full of good bacteria, we're better able to eliminate the toxins and free radicals that can damage skin and cause early signs of aging.



Elderberries have significant levels of vitamin A, making it an ideal option for fading age spots and preventing or lessening wrinkles.  The compound anthocyanin, responsible for giving berries their vibrant hue, could also give a natural boost to skin. The flower extracts of elderberry have skin-soothing effects that can relieve discomfort from rashes and sunburns.  The extracts also help to restore complexion and skin tone.  Who doesn't like the idea of improving the glow and tone of their body’s largest and most visible asset?

However, as much as we chase after that illusive fountain of youth, we all know that looking older is just an outward sign that we are aging internally.  Fortunately, elderberry just isn't having it.  It knows it isn't enough to look younger, it also wants you to feel younger.  So what does it do about it?

Along with flavonoids and antioxidants, the elderberry is also high in levels of essential minerals that will help promote bone strength and the development of new bone tissue.   It is loaded with minerals such as fiber, iron, folic acid, potassium, beta-carotene, manganese,  and vitamins A, B6, and C.  Getting a full share of these vital elements at an early stage in life can increase bone density and delay the onset of osteoporosis considerably.  So hold on to those 4 inch heels ladies, with strong bones, you'll be able to sashay in those stilettos for quite some time.


Elderberry does have a dangerous side.  There are a variety of species of elder.  AVOID dwarf elder (Sambucus ebulus). It can be toxic.  The elderberry used most often for medicinal purposes is Sambucus nigra, or European elder (also called black elder).  Use a TRUSTED preparation of elder. NEVER ingest raw or unripe elderberry.  The fruit, seeds, leaves, and bark contain a chemical related to cyanide, which is poisonous.

In case you're not up-to-date on the effects of cyanide, also known as hydrocyanic acid (NCN), here's a brief run down:

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • general lethargy
  • central nervous system and respiratory depression

If you're like me and none of the above sounds appealing, just make sure you cook berries before taking them.  If you have an autoimmune disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus, ask your doctor before taking elderberry, as it may stimulate the immune system.  Pregnant and breastfeeding women should NOT take elderberry.


You can find elderberry in the form of a liquid, syrup, tincture, capsule or lozenge.  You can steep 3 to 5 grams of dried elder flower in 1 cup of boiling water for 10-15 minutes, strain, and drink 3 times a day to get the benefits of elderberry.   As previously mentioned, make sure to only use a TRUSTED preparation of elder to avoid any chances of ingesting poison.


Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is provided as an information resource only.  It is not to be used or relied upon for any treatment or diagnostic purposes.  This information is not intended to be patient education.  It should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment.  The statements on this site have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.   This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.  Please consult your healthcare provider before making any healthcare decisions or for guidance about a specific medical condition, such as if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a mental condition.  Please read all product packaging carefully and consult with a healthcare professional before starting any diet, exercise, supplementation or medication program. Cosmetic products have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease.

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"Elderberry," Steven D. Ehrlich, NMD, University of Maryland Medical Center Last reviewed on 2/2/2016

"What Are the Health Benefits of Elderberry?"  Nov. 9, 2016

"The ABC Clinical Guide to Elderberry,"

"Probiotics for Skin Health,"