27 January, 2018 Charlena Edge 0 Comment

Last week, my husband was sick. It started with a sore throat and he soon developed chills and a hacking cough. After I badgered him to drink some elderberry tea, he finally agreed. Although the cough went on for several days, he was feeling mostly better within 24 hours of drinking the tea.

With the news reporting the flu this year is deadly and as of today, still has not reached its peak, I thought providing some information on elderberry would be useful.

I’ve had good results using Elderberry. At the first sign of cold symptoms, I brew a pot of tea and drink it throughout the day. I don’t like the taste of Elderberry (some people think it’s delicious) so I typically let it cool, hold my breath, and drink it down. Several times, the cold never fully developed so it can’t be totally coincidental that Elderberry helped.

Elderberry (Sambucus nigra) is a perennial shrub that grows in Europe and parts of the United States. The tree flowers in late spring to early summer then produce glossy, dark purple berries in late fall. If you have access to fresh berries, by all means use them! I use them dried so they are available all year around.

The traditional and historical use of Elderberry is well documented. Many native American tribes used the root, bark, leaves, and berries for a variety of ailments. In addition there is a fair amount of folklore surrounding the Elder bush. Historical preparations include tea, wine, ointment, and oil.

Today, Elderberry is commonly used to lessen the symptoms and severity of colds and viruses or to prevent them altogether.

From my research, Elderberry works by increasing cytokine production. Cytokines are molecules that help the cells communicate in order to trigger an immune response. The immune response strengthens the cell membrane to prevent a virus from penetrating the cell.

I examined a couple of scientific studies with results indicating elderberry is effective against several types of bacteria and viruses including influenza.

In a 2011 study published in BMC Complimentary and Alternative Medicine, Elderberry liquid extract reduced the spread of virus in a cell culture. The effects of Elderberry were tested on Gram-positive Streptococcus pyogenes, the bacteria that causes pneumococcal pneumonia, and Gram-negative Branhamella catarrhalis which is responsible for sinusitis and bronchopneumonia. The study also tested the efficacy of Elderberry on Influenza A and B viruses. The study concluded that Elderberry decreased the growth of bacteria and flu virus compared to samples that were not treated with Elderberry.

In a 2009 study published in Phytochemistry, “the identified flavonoids (one of the active chemicals in Elderberry) bind to Human Influenza A viruses and block viral infection in vitro”. According to the study, the direct binding to the H1N1 virus particles caused the virus to be unable to enter the host cell. This is a result of the Cytokine function I mentioned earlier.

In both of the studies an “aqueous” solution was used, so in regular terms infusing Elderberry with water to make tea or syrup will work.

I know this seems a bit technical but it does provide some proof as to why Elderberry works. Elderberry is also a diaphoretic to make you sweat, thus reducing a fever. It is a diuretic to make you pee and for some a laxative. I interpret this to mean it helps rid the body of bacteria and viruses by using all its purging mechanisms. Elderberry is also antirheumatic which means it reduces inflammation and resulting pain.

So…get yourself some elderberries, make some tea, and either savor the warmth or let it cool and chug it down. Either way – it won’t hurt you and it just might keep you from getting really sick.


Elderberry Tea

Brewed whole Elderberry tea & Echinacea and Elderberry Tea bags


For a cup: 2 teaspoons dried Elderberries per cup of water

For a pot: 2 tablespoons dried Elderberries per 3 cups of water

Grind elderberries on espresso setting in a coffee grinder.

Ground Elderberries – use espresso setting on coffee grinder


Add to heat proof measuring cup or teapot, pour over boiling water. Cover and let the tea steep 15 to 20 minutes. Strain and drink.

Add honey to taste. Honey is also antibacterial and antimicrobial which adds to the healing power.

I also like Traditional Medicinals Echinacea plus Elderberry tea bags. Use 3 tea bags per one cup (8 ounces) of water to get a good therapeutic dose. Cover your cup with a plate or foil and allow the tea to steep for 15-20 minutes.

Wishing you a flu-free winter!

Buy Elderberries here:


or for tea bags



Christian Krawitz, Mobarak Abu Mraheil, Michael Stein, Can Imirzalioglu, Eugen Domann, Stephan Pleschka, Torsten Hain (2011). Inhibitory activity of a standardized elderberry liquid extract against clinically-relevant human respiratory bacterial pathogens and influenza A and B viruses. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2011; 11: 16. Published online 2011 Feb 25. doi: 10.1186/1472-6882-11-16. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21352539


Bill Roschek, Jr, Ryan C. Fink, Matthew D. McMichael, Dan Li, Randall S. Alberte Phytochemistry. (2009).  Elderberry flavonoids bind to and prevent H1N1 infection in vitro. Jul; 70(10): 1255–1261. Published online 2009 Aug 12. doi: 10.1016/j.phytochem.2009.06.003. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19682714


Hardy Diagnostics. (2016). Branhamella. Hardydiagnostics.com. Retrieved from https://catalog.hardydiagnostics.com/cp_prod/Content/hugo/Branhamella.htm.


Patterson MJ. Streptococcus. In: Baron S, editor. Medical Microbiology. 4th edition. Galveston (TX): University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston; 1996. Chapter 13. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK7611/


Hoffman, D. (2003). Medical herbalism: the science and practice of herbal medicine. Rochester, Vermont: Healing Arts Press


Bone, K. and Mills, S. (2013). Principles and practice of phytotherapy: modern herbal medicine, second edition. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone.


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About Me

Charlena Edge

Charlena Edge

Hi, welcome to my humble abode! I’m Charlena, wife, mother of two, pet mommy, full-time worker, sporadic crafter, former floral designer, trial and error gardener, future chicken owner, and wanna be farmer. I have a Master’s degree in Therapeutic Herbalism. In between my disjointed, seemingly unrelated posts, I hope to share some of what I’ve learned. Thanks for stopping by!

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