Elderberry Supplements: Can Kids Take Them?

Jan 27, 2021 3:56:58 PM

Written By:
Dr. Matt Hand


Elderberry use dates back to early history. Long revered for its impressive list of health benefits, some ancient cultures thought of elderberry as a magic plant.* It’s easy to understand why. 

Sambucus, or elderberry, is a flowering plant of the Adoxaceae family commonly used for its health benefits including cell recovery, skin health, and immune support.* The raw berries can cause stomach upset and are actually poisonous, but refined elderberry supplements can be incredibly beneficial for both kids and adults.*

Can Kids Take Elderberry?

Elderberry frequently comes in dissolvable tablets, syrups, and tinctures, all methods of delivery that are commonly used for children. 

Some research shows—and practitioners have found—that elderberry supplements are well tolerated by kids over the short-term and on an as-needed basis. Likely due to regulatory guidelines and a lack of long-term studies, some information found online will say that elderberry isn’t recommended for children under the age of 18. This also may be linked to the danger associated with consuming raw elderberries. Raw elderberry roots, leaves, and buds contain hydrocyanic acid. For this reason, it’s best to avoid making your own elderberry syrup unless you are a trained herbalist or experienced professional.

However, a high-quality elderberry preparation made specifically for children has an extremely low side-effect profile and can be quite effective. As with any new herb or supplement, it’s always best to check with your integrative pediatrician or licensed herbalist before use.

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Does Elderberry Have Immune Boosting Properties?

One of elderberry’s primary uses is to support immune health in kids and adults, and it does so for several reasons.* 

First, elderberries are packed full of antioxidants and immune-boosting nutrients such as vitamin C, phenolic acids, flavonols, and anthocyanins.* These vitamins and phytonutrients help to modulate the body’s inflammatory and immune response, and vitamin C, in particular, is well studied for its ability to decrease immune susceptibility.*

Certain varieties of elderberry have also been shown to lessen the immunological impact* The polyphenol content specific to elderberry might also white blood cells.*

Many have benefited from elderberry’s lung-supporting properties, which may stem from a relatively new concept called the gut-lung axis.* Specific strains of gut bacteria work to directly impact lung health, and the anthocyanins in elderberry might promote respiratory health and function.*

Since this potent berry works to modulate inflammation in the body and fight free radicals, it seems to inhibit the cellular load of foreign invaders by blocking entrance into the cells.*

Elderberry and zinc

Elderberry naturally contains a small amount of the mineral zinc, and you’ll find many combinations of elderberry with zinc in tincture and capsule form. Used in conjunction, zinc and elderberry provide optimal immune modulation and block access to cells.* 

Zinc is an essential nutrient required for multiple processes, such as enzymatic reactions, gene expression, cell recovery, and immune function.*


Can you Take Elderberry Daily?

Most studies on elderberry have been short-term, ranging from 12-16 weeks. Within this timeframe, there seems to be little downside for children and adults taking it on a regular basis as a preventative measure. Keep in mind that uncooked elderberries, bark, and leaves of the plant contain the chemicals cyanide and lectin, which can cause adverse reactions in their raw form. It’s imperative to take a high-quality elderberry supplement.

Final Thoughts

Keeping your child healthy and feeling well is your top priority. You also want to feel confident in any immune-supportive supplements you are thinking of adding alongside your healthy diet.

As long as you choose a trusted product, elderberry can promote immune system health, keep the lungs healthy, and promote overall health and wellbeing for the whole family.* Pair it with zinc for an extra boost of immune support, and consider adding in vitamin D3 for immune cell health.*

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Source Citations:

1- Barak V, Halperin T, Kalickman I. The effect of Sambucol, a black elderberry-based, natural product, on the production of human cytokines: I. Inflammatory cytokines. Eur Cytokine Netw. 2001 Apr-Jun;12(2):290-6. PMID: 11399518.

2- Carr, A. C., & Maggini, S. (2017). Vitamin C and Immune Function. Nutrients, 9(11), 1211. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu9111211

3- Porter RS, Bode RF. A Review of the ...Properties of Black Elder (Sambucus nigra L.) Products. Phytother Res. 2017 Apr;31(4):533-554. doi: 10.1002/ptr.5782. Epub 2017 Feb 15. PMID: 2

4- "Evaluation of the immune defense in diabetes mellitus using ...." 1 Jun. 2010, https://e-repository.org/rbl/vol.16/iss.1/17.pdf. Accessed 27 Jan. 2021.

5- "Dietary antioxidants and 10-year lung function decline in ...." https://erj.ersjournals.com/content/50/6/1602286. Accessed 27 Jan. 2021.

6- "Zinc - Office of Dietary Supplements - NIH." 15 Jul. 2020, https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/%20Zinc-HealthProfessional/. Accessed 27 Jan. 2021.


*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.