According to http://realfarmacy.com/diy-flu-syrup/, "Elderberry Beats the Flu, Prevents Colds, and Strengthens Your Immunity." As with all dietary advice I find on the internet, I'm hesitant to believe this claim (and I'd be very surprised if the claim wasn't at least overhyped). Does Elderberry really have the claim properties?

  • One thing I noticed is in the abstract of the cited research - "Symptoms were relieved on average 4 days earlier and use of rescue medication was significantly less in those receiving elderberry extract compared with placebo... These findings need to be confirmed in a larger study." - on one hand 4 days is a HUGE difference that makes it sound implausible, but mentioning that a larger study is needed does make it sound slightly more plausible. Has a larger study been done?
    – Rob Watts
    Commented Feb 22, 2018 at 16:48
  • I would like to see the answer to this, because it's something my mother always used to say. She also used to cook up elderberry syrup and feed it to us.
    – RedSonja
    Commented Feb 23, 2018 at 9:46
  • Found some useful links - superfoodly.com/… and ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28198157. I'll turn them into an answer if nobody else does before I get off work.
    – Rob Watts
    Commented Feb 27, 2018 at 17:02

1 Answer 1


There is limited research on the treatment of Elderberries.

However, It is officially listed as a treatment option by NCBI

Note: The presence of this link is evidence of notability rather than effectiveness.

NCBI then links elderberries to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health

  • Although some preliminary research indicates that elderberry may relieve flu symptoms, the evidence is not strong enough to support its use for this purpose.

  • Researchers funded by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) are studying the antioxidant effects of extracts from elderberry and their possible relevance to the body’s defense against infection.

Citation from realfarmacy.com :

There is not enough research to substantiate these claims.

  • 1
    Echinacea is also listed as a treatment option, but if you follow a couple links down (nccih.nih.gov/health/tips/flucold.htm) it says "Echinacea has not been proven to help prevent or treat colds" - so it appears that the list is not treatments that have been proven to work. Also, that study is cited by "realfarmacy" and is rather suspect to me - it's a small study of 60 people, and it's the product they use (Sambucol) was developed by someone from their same university. Doesn't invalidate the study, but does make it suspect.
    – Rob Watts
    Commented Feb 27, 2018 at 17:01
  • 1
    @RobWatts I believe anything written or cited by realfarmacy is pure fluff. But anything published by NCBI is legit. I don't see what Echinacea not being proven to help or prevent colds has to do with anything. Not to get more off topic but I do drink tea with Echinacea when my throat hurts and it definitely immediately relieves irritation, however it definitely doesn't cure anything. Commented Feb 27, 2018 at 17:07
  • 1
    NCBI didn't publish it - they've just included it in their index of research.
    – Rob Watts
    Commented Feb 27, 2018 at 17:12
  • 1
    They don't "actually list it as a treatment option". They simply include it in a list of remedies that people have probably heard of. That implies that it's a common enough folk remedy to be mentioned, not that it actually works.
    – cHao
    Commented Feb 28, 2018 at 19:00
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    I've changed your conclusion as in medicine the "null hypothesis", the default option we take on something we don't know, is that of the plant being useless. Thus, a lack of research should be summarized as "there's no evidence to say it's effective", not "there's some credibility". In fact, lack of research points exactly in the opposite direction: no one is experimenting on it because no one thinks it's effective enough.
    – Sklivvz
    Commented Mar 2, 2018 at 8:29

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