FAQ: Should I Take Elderberry Syrup for a Cold?
FAQs - Did You Know?
Morgan Medeiros MSc
November 26, 2018

Elderberry Syrup for a ColdProbably not. Elderberry syrups, gummies, and lozenges are often touted as natural remedies for cold and flu symptoms.

However, few studies have been conducted testing the safety or effectiveness of elderberry in cold and flu treatment.

Studies available, although small, have suggested that use of elderberry extractives may reduce the duration of cold and flu symptoms to a moderate degree. Because of the scarcity of research, large medical organizations have stopped short of recommending elderberry for cold/flu treatment.

What is Sambucol?

Sambucol, a particular form of elderberry extract, is the only form of elderberry that has currently shown any promise in double blind study.

There are also serious side effects that should be considered, as elderberry supplements are not regulated by the FDA for purity, efficacy, or dosage.

Supplement companies are currently allowed to self-regulate, leaving supplements prone to issues of toxicity and/or contamination: many supplements contain more or less of the ingredients specified on product labeling, and some supplements have been shown to contain unspecified ingredients.

Uncooked or under ripe elderberries can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or other forms of gastrointestinal distress, as can ingesting components of leaves and stems.

Additionally, supplements can and do interact with other medications and supplements. If you are considering taking elderberry syrup or supplements for cold, flu, or any other reason, always speak to your physician before beginning a routine of consumption.

Elderberry syrup has not been proven to be safe for children, pregnant women, or while breastfeeding.

If Not Elderberry Syrup, What Options Are There?

So what should you do if you come down with a cold or flu, and are in need of relief, stat?

First, rest: when your body is fighting a virus, you need additional rest in the form of sleep and downtime. Your body is exerting additional energy in order to mount an effecive immune response.

While it’s tempting to soldier on, do so at your own risk: running yourself ragged will only increase cortisol, a potent stress hormone that puts a serious damper non your already overworked immune system.

Delegate your responsibilities to others inso much as you are able: even a small amount of extra rest can go a long way

Second, cut out alcohol and added or refined sugar, both of which negatively affect immune activity.

Even moderate amounts of alcohol can impair the activity of T-Cells, reducing the efficacy of immune response.

Third, focus on fresh fruits and veggies.

While this may seem like eye-rolling cliche advice, consuming fruits and veggies in their whole forms (always stay away from fruit juice) increases immune response and reduces cellular inflammation. Studies have shown that those who consume in excess of five servings of fruits and vegetables each day may reduce their risk for seasonal bugs by as much as 40%.

Morgan Medeiros is a certified nutritionist, holding a both a Bachelor and Master’s Degree in Clinical Nutrition. Morgan completed her undergraduate education at Central Washington University, and her graduate education at Northeastern University. During her time as a graduate student, Morgan focused her area of expertise in health education, weight management, and behavioral change. Morgan has experience working in areas of nutritional neuroscience and disease prevention, obesity prevention, and weight loss. Morgan also works in areas of nutritional analysis and menu labeling for restaurants, where she is able to creatively bridge her interest in food culture and health education. In her free time, Morgan enjoys traveling, reading, writing, running, and spending time with her family and friends (including- most importantly- her dog, Clyde).

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