If you’re anything like me, when you’re under the weather your bedside table is cluttered with tissues, effervescent tablets, throat lozenges, and a handful of herbal remedies.
Unfortunately, not many herbal supplements have research to show their efficacy. Whether it’s vitamin C, echinacea, or vitamin A, the claims seems to outweigh the real benefits of supplementation. But elderberry supplements may be the exception for its immune-boosting properties.
It’s been used to promote health for centuries but has grown in popularity recently since word got out that it can reduce the duration and severity of respiratory infections like the common cold. (Yes, it especially got popular during COVID, although there’s no good evidence for its use with COVID-19.)
The elderberry extract used in health supplements comes from the tart, dark purple berries of the European elder shrub (known by its scientific name Sambucus nigra). They’re also simply called elderberry fruit.
These berries contain vitamin C and antioxidant flavonoids like quercetin and anthocyanidins.
Interestingly, anthocyanins give elderberries their dark color. As the saying goes, the darker the berry, the higher the anthocyanin content…or something.
Hippocrates – the father of modern medicine – reportedly swore by elderberry for all sorts of health complaints. That said, science doesn’t exactly support elderberry for all of Hippocrates’ claims.
Drinking elderberry juice improves blood antioxidant levels in humans quickly.
More antioxidants mean more capacity to neutralize unstable free radicals and prevent them from running rampant in your body. This is promising because oxidative damage is a recipe for chronic inflammation, premature aging, heart disease, and cancer.
Nowadays, elderberry supplements are primarily a remedy for cold and flu symptoms.
Yes! Although the studies are small, evidence suggests it helps you recover faster from upper respiratory infections.
This study found consuming 15 ml of elderberry syrup four times per day reduced the length of the flu by four days.
Another study found taking elderberry supplements before and after air travel reduced the risk of catching a cold. It also significantly reduced the length and severity of a cold when people did get sick. Plus, those who took elderberry cut their sick days by half compared to the placebo group.
Research suggests this may be due to flavonoids binding to flu viruses, inhibiting their ability to infect human cells. Elderberry flavonoids may act similarly to common antiviral medications like Tamiflu.
Elderberry supplements are available in various forms. Capsules and gummies are probably the most convenient and pleasant to take. Not many kids (or adults) will refuse a fruity-flavored gummy. But syrups and lozenges are also popular.
Our list of the best elderberry supplements contains a range of high-quality options (and they’re all made according to GMP: Good Manufacturing Practices).
*Note: We do have affiliate links throughout this article, which means we receive a commission if you purchase from any of our links. This supports our mission to bring complicated health and fitness info in an entertaining package. And it keeps us from putting up annoying things like banner ads. Those suck.
Price: $14.99 for 50 gummies
Nature’s Truth Sambucus Black Elderberry Gummies are packed with 100 mg of concentrated elderberry in a 4:1 extract ratio. This means it takes 4 grams of elderberries to make 1 gram of elderberry extract – a concentrated dose.
Each gummy also contains 100 mg of vitamin C and 7.5 mg of zinc per serving. These two immune nutrients enhance the effects of elderberry and may help reduce the duration of common respiratory tract infections and minimize symptom severity.
These berry-flavored gummies are non-GMO, gluten-free, and free from artificial flavors, colors, or sweeteners. Plus, they use pectin, so it’s vegan-friendly.
Nature’s Truth is cGMP compliant and produces organic supplements in USDA-certified facilities. Their products and facilities regularly undergo third-party testing to verify purity and quality.
For all of these reasons, Nature’s Truth Elderberry Gummies is our #1 pick.
Price: $21.99 for 90 capsules
For those who want a convenient capsule, ElderMune is a patented blend of elderberry extract and prebiotic fiber for immune health.
A 2-capsule serving provides 500 mg of ElderMune™ Complex containing:
As a bonus, each serving offers 200 mg of vitamin C for immune support.
NOW Foods has years of experience in the industry and received GMP certification in 2000.
Developed by a virologist, Sambucol is the original elderberry supplement.
The products are made from the purest European Black Elderberries using a proprietary extraction method to ensure freshness and stability.
Elderberry Syrup is Sambucol’s flagship product, offering the equivalent of 3.8 g of premium elderberry per serving. The Advanced Immune variety includes vitamin C and zinc – the perfect combo when you feel a cold or flu starting.
This fruity-flavored syrup tastes nice when taken alone, but you can add it to water, juice, and smoothies if you prefer.
Sambucol Elderberry Syrup is vegan and gluten-free and contains no artificial colors, flavors, or sweeteners. That said, it contains glucose syrup to make it palatable. Diabetics may want to select another option on this list.
Price: $14.99 for 30 Gummies
Sambucol Elderberry Gummies for Kids contains 50 mg of black elderberry extract per serving along with 45 mg of vitamin C and 4 mg of zinc.
The gummies are berry-flavored and made with fruit pectin (not gelatin), making them vegan-friendly. They are also low in sugar – just 1 gram per gummy. Basically, this product is top-tier stuff.
The only downside is that you’ll need to hide them from your little ones because they taste so good.
Price: from $13.96
Bulk Supplements Elderberry Extract is the only powder option on the list, and 100 grams costs just $13.96.
Elderberry powder allows you to adjust your dose easily and add it to juice, smoothies, sauces, and baked goods, or use it to make your own capsules.
All Bulk Supplements products are GMP and NSF-certified by the FDA.
Price: $22.74 for 4 ounces
Micro Ingredients Elderberry Juice Powder is a flavorful powder packed with anthocyanins and vitamin C. This powder-based supplement is cold-pressed from the highest-quality black elderberries to retain flavor, color, and nutrients.
A scoop gives you 2000 mg of elderberry juice powder. Although it isn’t a concentrated elderberry extract, it’s perfect for adding an extra boost of nutrients to your smoothies, protein shakes, teas, juices, desserts, and baked goods.
Micro Ingredients produces some of the best single ingredient powder supplements on the market. Their products are guaranteed raw, USDA organic, and free from fillers and additives.
The products are lab-tested in the USA, and the results are available to anyone who wants to see them. Manufacturers often buy ingredients from Micro Ingredients to make their tablets and capsules.
Price: $16.00 per 20 capsule travel pack ($0.53 per day)
Pure Encapsulations PureDefense is a comprehensive product to help your immune system fight off common viruses.
Each serving offers 200 mg of European elderberry extract and 450 mg of antioxidant-boosting N-Acetyl-l-cysteine (see our list of the best NAC supplements). Plus, it provides other anti-inflammatory and immune-supportive ingredients:
It’s ideal for the whole family, and the 20-capsule pack makes a great travel companion.
Price: $15.99 for 120 capsules
NOW Foods Elderberry contains 500 mg of a highly concentrated elderberry extract in a 10:1 ratio.
Each bottle contains 120 capsules, which will last you a while. It’s the most budget-friendly option, just 13 cents per capsule!
Price: $19.99 for one month’s supply
Natrol Elderberry Gummies offers 100 mg of elderberry extract per serving with vitamin C and zinc.
They’re vegetarian, non-GMO, gluten-free, and free from all nasty flavorings, preservatives, and sweeteners. And they still managed to taste great.
A month’s supply costs just $19.99 – less than 50 cents per serving.
Natrol makes high-quality health supplements affordable to everyone by keeping their margins low. But this doesn’t mean they skimp on quality and purity. Each product gets tested for purity, strength, contamination, and composition according to FDA cGMP standards.
Double Wood makes the perfect lozenges to soothe your throat while you fight off a cold or flu bug.
Each tasty lozenge contains 60 mg of vitamin C, 5 mg of zinc, and 10 mg of elderberry powder. It isn’t an elderberry extract, but it’s still a source of immune-supportive anthocyanins.
We’ve spent time researching the best brands offering elderberry supplements, so you don’t have to.
To help you make your final decision here’s what we took into consideration for
Elderberry extract is classed as a dietary supplement by the FDA, making it unregulated. Unfortunately, this means brands don’t need to be strict about supplement quality, and some take chances.
For this reason, we only select brands that submit their products for third-party testing and comply with Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs). Products are manufactured according to strict quality standards and tested to confirm their purity, strength, and composition.
We are picky about the supplements we list, prioritizing those containing concentrated elderberry extract from black European elderberries. Several supplements also contain immune-supportive nutrients like vitamin C and zinc for extra support.
In addition, we value supplements that don’t contain artificial additives and are safe for people with gluten, egg, soy, and dairy intolerances.
We’ve tried to diversify our list to meet different needs by including elderberry capsules, gummies, and syrup.
Whatever your preference, there’s something for you.
We chose products that are high-quality and affordable. We can’t have the skyrocketing cost of living forcing you to skip your supplements.
We’ve listed a range of options to suit different budgets. Whichever you choose, we guarantee no corners were cut with regards to quality.
In theory, yes. We know consuming flavonoids – like anthocyanins in elderberries – protects cardiovascular health.
However, besides small improvements to cholesterol levels in young people, we don’t have enough evidence to recommend elderberry extract for improving cardiovascular health.
It’s not advisable to take elderberry extract long-term. It’s not dangerous per se, but there isn’t evidence to show it will benefit you.
For the best results, take elderberry during cold and flu season and as soon as you feel the slightest tickle in your throat. You can also use it as a preventative measure when traveling and spending time around other sick people.
Elderberry supplements are generally considered safe. However, supplement is the key word here. Never consume raw elderberries as they contain toxins called cyanogenic glycosides.
Speak to your health care professional before taking elderberry if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.