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Benefits of Elderberry Syrup

Elderberries have a long history in herbal medicine and traditional remedies around the world. And they seem to be gaining popularity in the US for their flavor and potential immune boosting benefits. We’ll dig into some of the medical research that’s been done on the efficacy of elderberry syrup, more about the plant itself, and some of the ways we love to incorporate the benefits of elderberry syrup into our day-to-day. 


Benefits of elderberry syrup

Elderberries are small berries packed with antioxidants. They have been used in herbal medicine for centuries for their powerful immune-boosting benefits.

Medical research highlights the benefits of elderberry syrup, including its role in:

  1. improving symptoms from cold and flu 
  2. preventing cold and flu virus infections


Elderberry syrup as a flu buster

Elderberry syrup is a traditional remedy used to boost the immune system against cold and flu viruses. There are several research studies that have been done to examine how elderberry works to prevent cold and flu virus infections, and reduce the duration of symptoms if you do get the flu.

A 2004 study from Norway showed that taking elderberry syrup several times a day helped patients with the flu get better several days faster.(1) 

In this study, 60 patients diagnosed with influenza virus, type A, were divided into two groups. The first group (we’ll call them “Team Elderberry”) took about 1 tablespoon of elderberry syrup 4 times per day for five days. The second group (let’s call them “Team Placebo”) took the same amount of another syrup that looked and tasted the same, but didn’t contain elderberry.


What did the researchers find?

The patients inTeam Elderberry got better much faster, and took less medication, than those in Team Placebo. 

Here are the details:

A majority of patients in Team Elderberry reported “pronounced improvement” (according to a scale they reported on throughout the study) in symptoms in3-4 days, compared to 7-8 days in Team Placebo.

Team Elderberry used significantly (statistically that is!)less medication to treat their symptoms than Team Placebo. The patients on Team Placebo were more likely to have to take a painkiller and/or use a nasal spray during the study than the patients on Team Elderberry. 

Basically, Team Elderberryrecovered more quickly anddidn’t have to go to the drugstore as often


Elderberry syrup as an immune booster

Elderberries areLOADED with  antioxidants, which have so manyimportant health benefits. Elderberries contain antioxidants called Flavonoids -  chemicals found in plants that are often responsible for fruit and vegetables’ bright colors. They have been shown to have strong anti-inflammatory and immune system benefits

A 2010 study from Australia looked at how elderberry works, along with its primary active compound, a flavonoid called “cyanidin 3-glucoside” (say that three times fast!).(2) 

The study concluded that elderberry works in three key ways: 

  1. Inhibits flu virus’ ability to enter cells 
  2. Keeps virus from moving into even more cells after infection is present
  3. Stimulates the molecules that affect the body’s immune response

All of this adds up to Elderberry Syrup as a triple-threat to fight against the flu and keep you healthy when everyone around you is getting sick.

About Commonhealth Elderberry Syrup

We make our Elderberry Syrup with just four simple ingredients:
- Water
- Organic elderberries
- Meyer lemon juice
- Organic cane sugar (just a tiny bit!)

Meyer lemons are a cross between regular lemons and a mandarin oranges so their juice has a delicious citrus-y flavor that is slightly sweeter than the oh-so-tart regular lemon juice. Meyer lemons offer a very complementary flavor to the earthiness of our elderberries. And they are a winter fruit, so they just happen to be at their peak during cold and flu season!

Meyer lemon juice is a great source of vitamin C, another antioxidant that has a wealth of its own health benefits, so in addition to its great flavor benefits, it adds a little extra immune-boosting antioxidant to our Elderberry Syrup!

I know we’re all trying to stay away from added sugar, but hear us out – we add just enough organic cane sugar to our Elderberry Syrup to brighten up the tartness of the elderberries and make it deliciously drinkable. Our Elderberry Syrup is actually much less sweet than many other elderberry syrups on the market. Because we don’t use honey in our syrup, it is safe for all of our vegan friends to enjoy too.

And, of course, it’s always free of preservatives, fillers, and other nasties that we’ve seen out there!


How to get your daily dose - recipes and recommended uses for Elderberry Syrup

There are lots of ways to get your elderberry syrup in every day, some creative and some not-so-much, especially during cold and flu season.
Take a tablespoon of elderberry syrup on its own every morning, like our kids, I mean “Board of Directors” do. 

Try our Warm Elderberry Lemonade recipe

Add a tablespoon of elderberry syrup to your orange juice in the morning, or whenever you feel like it.
I pour a little into my hot tea throughout the day – black tea in the morning, and herbal tea in the afternoon.

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also make your own elderberry syrup at home. There lots of great elderberry syrup recipe ideas out there. For a different flavor profile, this is our favorite spiced elderberry syrup recipe.

Finally, we do have a few cocktail recipes using our elderberry syrup – it’s not every day you can get the health benefits of elderberry in a delicious adult beverage (but now it can be!).

For the tequila enthusiast, we recommend the Commonhealth Elderberry Margarita.
And for the gin connoisseur, let us suggest the Gin Elderade. This recipe even includes a vegetable!


About Elderberries

Elderberries are the fruit of the elder tree or shrub, which can grow to be 10-12 feet tall. Much of the world’s elderberries are grown in Eastern Europe. Elderberries also grow in the wild in much of Europe and North America. In the US, elderberries can often be found in river and creek banks, along roadsides and under powerlines. They are easy to spot in late spring and early summer with their small white flowers in bloom.

Elderberries appear and ripen in late summer to early fall, which is a great time for forage for them if you’re interested in making your own elderberry syrup. You have to be quick though because deer and birds love elderberries too!

The elderberry plant is native to Europe, Northern Africa, West and Central Asia, and North America.
There are two main species of elderberries:
1. Sambucus nigra
2. Sambucus canadensis

Sambucus nigra grows wildly in most of Europe, while Sambucus canadensis is the species native to North America.

The name “elderberry” comes from the Anglo-Saxon word aeld, meaning “fire”. The Latin word for the plant “sambucus” originates from the Greek word, sambuce, a wind instrument made from wood. The hollow stems of the elderberry plant were used for making both fires and musical instruments. (2)

Zakay-Rones, Z, et al. “Randomized Study of the Efficacy and Safety of Oral Elderberry Extract in the Treatment of Influenza A and B Virus Infections.” The Journal of International Medical Research, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2004,

Torabian, Golnoosh, et al. “Anti-Influenza Activity of Elderberry (Sambucus Nigra).” Journal of Functional Foods, vol. 54, 2019, pp. 353–360., doi:10.1016/j.jff.2019.01.031.

Mumcuoglu, M., Safirman, D., & Ferne M. (2010) Elderberry. Retrieved from Encyclopedia of Dietary Supplements, (9), 235-239.