Elderberries: properties, benefits and contraindications


Have you ever heard of the properties of elderberries? These fruits come from the elderberry tree, also known scientifically as Sambucus nigra L., which belongs to the caprofolia family and can be found mainly in the forests and river banks of different regions of Europe. Although the best known is the black or common elderberry, we can also find other species such as the red elderberry (Sambucus racemosa) and the lesser elderberry or yezgo (Sambucus ebulus) among others.

Elderberries properties, benefits and contraindications

Whatever the species, some parts of this tree such as the elderflower and/or its berries or fruits have traditionally been used as ingredients of some natural remedies due to their different medicinal properties. However, although the flowers of this tree are very beneficial, in the following article of we will also focus on the contradictions of these fruits. Keep reading this article and find out everything you need to know about elderberries: properties, benefits and contraindications.

Nutritional composition of elderberries

The black or common elderberry, also known scientifically as Sambucus nigra L., is a tree native to Europe that belongs to the Caprifoliaceae family. Although one of the parts that can be used of this tree are the flowers, below we discover the nutritional composition of elderberries:

  • Acids: Elderberries mainly feature malic acid, citric acid, and oxalic acid. To a lesser extent, they also provide linoleic acid and linolenic acid.
  • Elderberry essential oil: Although elderflower contains a greater contribution, the berries also have oils such as alpha-terpineol, betulin, geranil and beta-amyrin.
  • Vitamins: The fruits of this tree contain vitamin A, B1, B2, B3, B7 and C.
  • Minerals: it has potassium, iron, calcium, sodium, manganese, phosphorus, magnesium and zinc.
  • Other nutrients: some of the other nutrients provided by elderberries are fiber, fructose, glucose and flavonoids (anthocyanins and quercitin).

Properties and benefits of elderberries

As we have observed in the previous section, elderberries have a wide variety of essential nutrients for health. As a result of this richness, the fruits of sambucus nigra are an excellent remedy for different conditions, as they have the following properties and medicinal benefits:

Prevents some heart disease

Elderberries are the food that has the highest concentration of quercitin, a flavonoid with powerful circulatory properties that help strengthen both the health of the arteries and our circulatory system. Thanks to these properties, elderberries are one of the best foods for the heart and can prevent diseases such as cholesterol, hypertension and arteriosclerosis.

It is a good remedy for headaches

The fruit of this tree also has excellent anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, so it is considered a magnificent remedy to reduce the discomfort caused by headaches.

To take advantage of these properties, the berries are usually used to make a natural syrup, although for these cases you can also make use of elderberry essential oil. However, it is important that if you are going to make a home remedy such as syrup or elderberry oil with these berries, you always consume them ripe, because those that are still green contain a high dose of sambunigrina, a very toxic principle.

If you suffer from headaches often, don't miss this article on Home Remedies for Migraines, where you'll find a wide selection of tips to help you deal with headaches.

Has astringent properties

Due to their high tannin content, sambucus nigra berries boast potent astringent properties. And how can we benefit from these properties? Its astringent power gives it, on the one hand, laxative properties that improve some intestinal disorders such as constipation and, on the other hand, prevents the appearance of stomach bacteria such as Helicobacter pylori.

Elderberries for cough

Elderberry is also an excellent remedy for relieving cough and other symptoms such as fever, as it boasts powerful sweating and antiviral properties. Thanks to these properties, the infusion of berries and elderflower is an effective remedy to promote the healing of some respiratory infections such as flu, colds and bronchitis.

If you want to discover more homemade solutions to end this discomfort, take a look at the following article on How to treat cough with home remedies.

Reduces fluid retention

Thanks to their contribution of potassium salts, both elderflowers and elderberries have excellent diuretic properties that favor the elimination of toxins and liquids accumulated in the body. Because of this benefit, elderberry is an excellent remedy for some conditions such as gout and dropsy.

Dangers and contraindications of elderberry

Although we have already seen what elderberry is for and we have discovered that its flowers and fruits can be a good remedy for different ailments, it is also important that we have certain precautions when consuming flowers or fruits of this tree:

  • It is not recommended to use remedies made with the bark, leaves and seeds of this tree: on the one hand, the seeds contain cyanogenetic glycosides (which are generators of cyanide) and, on the other, both the bark and its leaves have a toxic principle known as sambunigrina.
  • Nor should you use the fruits that are immature or green since, as we have seen in the previous section, they also contain sambunigrina.

In addition to its toxicity, elderberry is contraindicated in the following cases:

  • Pregnancy and lactation: due to the lack of toxicological studies on the effects during pregnancy and lactation, it is not recommended to consume this plant in these cases.
  • People with hypertension, varicose veins or poor circulation: before taking any remedy with elderberry it is recommended that you consult with your doctor, as it could interfere with the medical treatments used for this type of case.


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