Do you want to know where to buy elderberry? This post got your back.
Elderberries are one of the most commonly used medicinal plants in the world.
Traditionally, Native Americans used elderberry to treat infections, while the ancient Egyptians used it to improve their complexions and heal burns. In many parts of Europe, elderberry is still gathered and used in folk medicine.
Today, it is most often taken as a supplement to treat cold and flu symptoms. However, the raw berries, barks, and leaves of the elderberry are also known to be poisonous and cause stomach problems.
Before we list the right places to buy elderberry, let’s first take a closer look at elderberry, the evidence supporting its health claims as well as the dangers associated with eating it.
Table of Contents
What is Elderberry?
Elderberry refers to the wide variety of the Sambucus tree, which is a flowering plant that belongs to the Adoxaceae family.
The most common type of elderberry is Sambucus nigra which is also known as the European elderberry or black elder. The Sambucus nigra tree is native to Europe but it is widely grown in different parts of the world as well.
Sambucus nigra tree grows up to 30 ft (9 meters) tall and has clustery of small white or cream-colored flowers called elderflowers. The berries are found in small black or blue-black bunches.
Sambucus nigra elderberries are quite tart and need to be cooked before eaten while the flowers have a delicate muscat aroma and can be eaten raw or cooked.
Other varieties of the Sambucus tree are the American elder, blue elderberry, dwarf elder, red-fruited elder, danewort, and antelope brush.
Several parts of the elderberry tree have been used throughout history for medicinal and culinary purposes.
Historically, the flowers and leaves of the berries have been used to stimulate the production of urine, to induce sweating, to relieve pain, swelling, and inflammation.
In folk medicine, dried berries or juice are used to treat infections, headaches, influenza, sciatica, heart pain, dental pain, nerve pain, as well as laxative and diuretic.
Also, the berries can be cooked and used to make juice, chutneys, jams, pies, and elderberry wine. The flowers are also boiled with sugar to make a sweet syrup or infused into tea. The flowers can also be eaten fresh in salads.
What are the Health Benefits of Elderberry?
There’re many reported benefits of elderberries. Elderberries are not only nutritious but may also fight cold and flu symptoms, support heart health and fight inflammation and infections.
Some health benefits of elderberries include:
1. Elderberries are high in nutrients
They are low-calorie food packed with antioxidants. 100g of fresh elderberries contain 73 calories, 18.4g of carbs, and less than 1g of fat and protein.
Elderberries have many nutritional benefits. They are:
- High in vitamin C – There’re 6-35 milligrams of vitamin C per 100 grams of berries which accounts for up to 60% of the recommended daily intake.
- High in dietary fiber – Elderberries contain 7g of fiber per 100g of fresh berries, which is more than ¼ of the recommended daily intake.
- A good source of phenolic acids – Phenolic acids are powerful antioxidants that can help reduce damage from oxidative stress in the body.
- Rich in anthocyanins – Anthocyanins give elderberry its characteristic dark black-purple color and are strong antioxidants with anti-inflammatory effects.
- A good source of flavonols – Elderberries contain the antioxidant flavonols quercetin, isorhamnetin, and kaempferol. The flowers contain up to 10 times flavonols than the berries.
The exact nutritional composition of elderberries depends on the plant, ripeness of the berries, and environmental and climatic conditions. Thus, serving can vary in their nutrition.
2. Elderberries may improve cold and flu symptoms
Elderberry extracts and flower infusions have been found to reduce the severity of symptoms caused by the influenza virus. Though these results are promising, further human studies are needed.
3. Elderberries are high in Antioxidants
The fruits, flowers, and leaves of the elderberry plant are excellent sources of antioxidants. For instance, the anthocyanins found in elderberries have 3.5 times the antioxidant power of vitamin E.
4. Elderberries may be good for heart health
Elderberry fruits have some benefits for heart health such as reducing cholesterol, uric acid, and blood sugar levels. However, more research is needed to demonstrate if these effects are significant in humans.
Other health benefits of Elderberries
There’re lots of other reported benefits of elderberry though most of them have limited scientific evidence. They include:
- Elderberry may help fight cancer
- May help fight harmful bacteria
- Elderberries may support the immune system
- Elderberries could protect against UV radiation
- May increase urination
- Elderberries may have some antidepressant properties
These results are interesting but further research may be needed in humans to know if the effects are truly significant.
Health Risks and Side Effects of Elderberry
Elderberries have some promising potential benefits but there are some dangers associated with its consumption.
The bark, seeds, and unripe berries contain small amounts of substances called lectins which can cause stomach problems if eaten too much.
Also, the elderberry plant contains substances known as cyanogenic glycosides, which can release cyanide in some circumstances. Cyanide is a toxin that can also be found in apricot seeds and almonds.
There are about 3 milligrams of cyanide per 100g of fresh berries and 3-17 milligrams per 100g of fresh leaves. This is exactly 3% of the estimated fatal dose for a 130-pound person.
However, commercial preparations and cooked elderberries don’t contain cyanide, so, there’re no reports of fatalities from eating the berries.
Symptoms of eating uncooked elderberries, the leaves, bark, or roots include vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea.
Luckily, toxic substances found in elderberries can be safely removed by cooking. However, the branches, leaves, or bark should not be used in cooking or juicing.
Elderberry is not recommended for kids and adolescents under the age of 18 or pregnant or lactating women.
Where to buy Elderberry
You can hardly find fresh, frozen, and dried elderberries in local markets. However, some online vendors do sell them.
But if you’re looking for organic elderberry fruit or elderberry products, below is a detailed list of bulk herb stores/companies that sell organic elderberries by the pound.
- Mountain Rose Herbs
- Bulk Apothecary
- Alexa Organics
- Oregon Wild Harvest
- Florida Herb House
- Sunburst Superstore
- Starwest Botanicals
- Better Than The Greens
- Mountain Maus Remedies
- Pacific Botanicals
- Herb Affair
Today, elderberry is often taken as a supplement to treat cold and flu symptoms. If you want to know the best elderberry supplements to take, here are top brands to take note:
- Gaia Herbs Black Elderberry
- Now Foods Elderberry Extract
- Nature’s Sunshine Elderberry Immune
- BlueBonnet Elderberry Fruit Extract
- Amazon Elements Elderberry Complex
- Paradise Herbs Elderberry
- GNC Herbal Plus Elderberry Fruit
- Planetary Herbals Full Spectrum Elderberry Extract
- Solaray Elderberry
- Eclectic Institute Elderberry Immune
Now that you know where to buy elderberry, make sure you buy elderberry plants that suit your region and if you are buying the fruit, shop carefully because not all varieties produce edible fruit.
Elderberries have been associated with many promising health benefits. There is evidence that supports its use to reduce the length and severity of flu symptoms.
Also, elderberries may support heart health, improve antioxidant status, and have a variety of anti-cancer, anti-diabetes, and anti-inflammatory effects – that’s why it is the most commonly used medicinal plants in the world.
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