Elderberry Extract Sambucol Fights Flu

Tuesday, April 28, 2009 19:23

Sambucus Black Eldeberry ExtractIf you’re looking for natural flu remedies in the wake of the recent swine flu outbreaks, the black elderberry extract Sambucol is a choice that rises to the top of many lists.  A small study published in the ’90s showed that 93% of flu patients given Sambucol were completely symptom-free within two days, while those taking a placebo recovered in about six days.  That particular study, published in the winter 1995 issue of the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine,  was performed during an influenza B outbreak though, so the verdict was still out on flu A.

In a second study published in the International Journal of Medical Research, 90% of the study participants had influenza A.  In this study, patients who received Sambucol recovered in an average of 3.1 days, versus 7.1 for the placebo group.  No significant side effects were reported in this study.

Scientists believe that flavanoids in black elderberry extract are likely to be the component that is active against the influenza virus.  Although we don’t know whether elderberry extract is effective against the current strain of swine flu, the fact that black elderberry extract is generally safe for both children and adults, and there are no known negative effects or drug interactions, makes it a pretty good candidate when it comes to natural remedies.

In case you’re wondering, everything I’ve read leaves me a little hazy on exactly which black elderberry extract preparation was used in the studies mentioned above.  Both Sambucol by Healthcare Brands International Ltd. and Nature’s Way Sambucol product information make vague statements about scientific testing and virology.  One thing I do know, is that the product marketed as Nature’s Way Sambucol changed it’s name to Sambucus Original Black Elderberry Syrup in late 2008. Depending on where you purchase it from, you might find Nature’s Way products labeled as Sambucol or Sambucus.  We happen to have a little bit of each brand.  If anyone can clarify this issue by providing the full text of either study, I’d really appreciate it!

As with all medications, consult with your physician before making treatment decisions.

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16 Responses to “Elderberry Extract Sambucol Fights Flu”

  1. deanna voutsas says:

    April 29th, 2009 at 11:58 am

    I plan on using Sambucol for my kids if needed but read somewhere that it can cause a cytokine storm with this type of flu. Do you know anything about this?

  2. Kristie says:

    April 29th, 2009 at 12:57 pm

    I know the Spanish flu probably killed by inducing a cytokine storm, and there was some discussion that the swine flu might do the same. I haven’t heard any follow up or confirmation on that. I haven’t read anything about Sambucol itself causing a cytokine storm either. The studies above reported no adverse events with Sambucol. All in all, I’m not sure though! Sorry I can’t be of more help.

  3. Sambucol Team says:

    April 29th, 2009 at 3:37 pm


    I noticed that you mentioned you had some confusion in regards to which product was used in the clinical trials and I wanted to try to clear that up for your readers.
    The original Sambucol Black Elderberry dietary supplement that has been tested and shown to help support immune functions is no longer being sold by Nature’s Way. It is now widely available under the same name – Sambucol – from Healthcare Brands International (HBI). Other companies have similar looking black elderberry products with similar sounding names, but only Sambucol is the original black elderberry extract developed by a virologist and tested in numerous published studies.

    For more information visit http://www.sambucol.com

  4. Kristie says:

    April 29th, 2009 at 4:48 pm

    Thanks for that information. I appreciate it, as do my readers. I’m wondering if you can tell me what the difference is between Sambucol and the product now being marketed as Sambucus by Nature’s Way?

  5. Ava says:

    April 29th, 2009 at 9:34 pm

    Deanna, I just read about this on another site. It said that you need to take a pathogen destroyer with it. Like grapefruit seed extract or olive leaf extract. If you research both the are safe and effective.

  6. D'Anna says:

    May 7th, 2009 at 6:26 pm

    I, too, have been looking at elderberry extract as a possible herbal alternative in combating influenza and recently came upon this article regarding avian flu and potential remedies. It contains interesting information, but may be outdated since being written in 2006. H5N1 Avian Flu Virus Therapy: Conventional & Herbal Options http://tinyurl.com/o7fhq7

  7. Immune Defence says:

    May 9th, 2009 at 11:41 pm

    I am going to research Sambucol for my kids. If it’s as good as they say I will have to get some. Wonder if I can get some here in Australia. I Know there are various Homoeopathic remedies to build your imune system. Our kids also have that as an added measure. Plus they Have their usual kid friendly vitamins.

  8. kash says:

    May 11th, 2009 at 1:21 am

    Hi I have been feeding my 2 YO gal with sambucol daily for the last 3 weeks. 5ml per day. Can I ask it is something to feed daily as a supplement? Or to feed only when there is flu like symptoms?


  9. Kristie says:

    May 11th, 2009 at 8:51 am

    According to the labeling on the bottles we have, you can give kids 5ml once a day as a preventive measure. We did it for a while because it seemed like they were picking up a bug every time we left the house. I didn’t notice any problems other than the fact that they wanted more because they really liked how it tasted… ;)

  10. Lisa PharmD says:

    June 28th, 2009 at 7:20 am

    I do believe the elderberry extract can treat the swine flu. There are 2 “receptors” so to speak, that you can try to impair to block replication of the virus-neuramidase and hemagluttin. Alot of the pharmaceutical neuramidase inhibitors have become ineffective because of resistance developing. Elderberry supposedly blocks hemagluttination-meaning it blocks the binding of the flu viron because it binds to the hemagluttin which keeps it from being able to pierce a host cell and replicating. Elderberry doesn’t keep you from getting the flu, but it does decrease the replication of the virus, thus allowing your own immune system ttime to fight back. There is a concern of cytokine storm with avian flu and possibly this new swine flu. Elderberry can stimulate cytokine production. It’s a catch-22. However, the thought is if you get the elderberry on board fast enough and take anti-inflammatory antioxidants (such as high dose Vitamin C and tumeric), you can stave off the replication of virus before you have to worry about the pnemonia/respiratory failure and cytokine storm in the lungs.
    Hope this helps.

  11. mash says:

    October 14th, 2009 at 2:01 pm

    Do you know if it is safe to take Elderberry Syrup when you are pregnant? I’m 11 weeks and I have taken it for years (not on a daily basis, just when sick). I decided to look up info on it today and am finding some info that says it is not safe. Thanks!

  12. Kristie says:

    October 14th, 2009 at 4:09 pm

    Good questio I honestly don’t know the correct answer, but I have heard several pregnant women say that their midwives actually suggested it to them. I’ll let you know if I find anything more concrete.

  13. Michelle says:

    October 15th, 2009 at 8:24 am

    does anyone know if I can take sambucol while nursing? Can you also take with other vitamins and or drugs like zytreck?
    2 seconds ago · Delete

  14. John says:

    October 22nd, 2009 at 9:29 pm

    I believe sambucus contains golden seal, zinc, and echinaccea. Sambucol is straight elderberry extract. I don’t get the flu much, but everytime I’ve had it, sambucol knocked it out.

  15. Leif Henriksen says:

    November 11th, 2009 at 8:23 pm

    You ask if anyone can provide the full text of any of the studies. Actually, I stumbled across the Norwegian study which I found very interesting, and by followup googling I came to your site, So, here is the text from The Journal of International Medical Research:

  16. Kristie says:

    November 11th, 2009 at 9:08 pm

    Thank you Leif!