What is Elderberry Syrup?

What is Elderberry Tincture?

Black Elderberry (Sambucus nigra)

Black elderberry (Sambucus nigra) is a small, shrubby tree that is native to most of Europe.  There are many types of elderberry trees, however Sambucus nigra is the species used historically as a medicinal plant.  For centuries, the fruits from this tree were eaten by early settlers in Europe and North America. They prepared a primitive black elderberry syrup and used it as a remedy for fevers associated with colds and the flu virus (Borchers, 2000). 

Elderberry syrup is used today to boost the immune system and minimize the symptoms of colds and flu.  Multiple clinical trials have been published on the ability of elderberry to shorten the length of time we suffer from cold or flu symptoms.  (citations and links below to research and clinical trials)

How does lderberry boost our immune system?

1. Elderberry regulates cytokines in our immune system.

Elderberry can increase and regulate the production of cytokines in our immune system (Abuja, 1998; Middleton, 1992; Murkovic, 2000, Youdim, 2000). Cytokines are small chemicals in our body that allow our immune system to work correctly.  When our body is infected with a virus, cytokines communicate this infection to other parts of our immune system.  

2. Elderberry is a source of antioxidants

The black elderberry plant contains many small molecules called flavonoids.  Flavonoids are a class of secondary metabolite chemical often found in plants.  Leafy vegetables, dark skinned fruits, wine and chocolate are among the many plant based foods rich in flavonoids.  Flavonoids help fend off pathogens and allergens and also display high antioxidant activity.  Antioxidants help prevent  free radicals from damaging human cells.  

3. Elderberry has anti-virus activity

Early stage experiments suggest chemical compounds from black elderberry can block infection by directly inhibiting viral action.  Laboratory and animal hemagglutination (clumping together of red blood cells) studies demonstrate that extract from Sambucus nigra can inhibit both the influenza virus A and B and the herpes simplex virus-143 (Roschek, 2009; Serkedjieva, 1990; Zakay-Rones, 1995).  The authors speculate the elderberry extract can somehow stain and coat the exterior of a virus, rendering the virus non-functional.  

Suggested dosing for Elderberry Syrup:

Standard dose is 1 teaspoon for children, 1 Tablespoon for adults daily for prevention.  At onset of illness, take 4 times daily. Not for use by infants less than 1 year old. 

What is Elderberry Tincture?

Tinctures are made without honey, sugar, or water. Since they are made with grain alcohol as the solvent, they last much longer than elderberry syrup. Elderberry Tinctures are said to last at least 3 years or even longer if they are stored in glass bottles and not exposed to light or heat.

What is the standard dosing for Elderberry Tincture?


Adults: 20-30 drops

Children: 10-20 drops


At onset of illness, take 3 times per day until symptoms resolve. Dilute in small amount of water.

Ingredients: Wildcrafted elderberries, grain alcohol. Contains 40%-50% alcohol by volume.

How many doses are in a 1 oz. bottle of elderberry tincture?

Each 1 oz bottle contains approximately 600 drops. This is about 20-30 adult doses and 30-60 child doses.

Does the Elderberry Tincture need to be refrigerated?

No. Store bottle in a dark cabinet away from heat.

What does the Elderberry Tincture taste like?

Since the tincture does not contain honey or sugar, it does not taste sweet. It is recommended to mix the dose in a small amount of water and consume in one sip. Alternatively, you can add it to juice, honey, tea, or a smoothie.

Does Elderberry Tincture contain alcohol?

A tincture is a type of herbal preparation in which the alkaloids, glycosides, minerals, and essential oils of a plant are extracted into a solvent. The liquids that are most often used as solvents are high-proof alcohols such as vodka. The final product contains 40%-50% alcohol by volume. What does this mean for a single dose? It is not much different than some cough medicines. For example, an adult dose contains approximately 0.08 teaspoon of alcohol- which is also equal to 8 drops of alcohol and a child dose contains 0.04 teaspoon which is equal to 4 drops of alcohol.

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. 

Clinical Trials and Scientific Research

Abuja, Peter M., Michael Murkovic, and Werner Pfannhauser. “Antioxidant and Prooxidant Activities of Elderberry (Sambucus nigra) Extract in Low-Density Lipoprotein Oxidation.” Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 46.10 (1998): 4091-4096.


Barak, Vivian, Tal Halperin, and Inna Kalickman. “The effect of Sambucol, a black elderberry-based, natural product, on the production of human cytokines: I. Inflammatory cytokines.” Eur Cytokine Netw 12.2 (2001): 290-296.


Borchers, Andrea T., et al. “Inflammation and Native American medicine: the role of botanicals.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 72.2 (2000): 339-347.


Murkovic, M., U. Adam, and W. Pfannhauser. “Analysis of anthocyane glycosides in human serum.” Fresenius’ Journal of Analytical Chemistry 366.4 (2000): 379-381.


Roschek, Bill, et al. “Elderberry flavonoids bind to and prevent H1N1 infection in vitro.” Phytochemistry 70.10 (2009): 1255-1261.

Serkedjieva, Julia, et al. “Antiviral activity of the infusion (SHS-174) from flowers of Sambucus nigra L., and roots of Saponaria officinalis L. against influenza and herpes simplex viruses.” Phytotherapy Research 4.3 (1990): 97-100.

Youdim, Kuresh A., Antonio Martin, and James A. Joseph. “Incorporation of the elderberry benefits anthocyanins by endothelial cells increases protection against oxidative stress.” Free Radical Biology and Medicine 29.1 (2000): 51-60.

Zakay-Rones, Zichria, et al. “Inhibition of several strains of influenza virus in vitro and reduction of symptoms by an elderberry juice extract (Sambucus nigra L.) during an outbreak of influenza B Panama.” The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 1.4 (1995): 361-369.