Is It Safe To Take Elderberry Syrup While Pregnant Or Breastfeeding?

Elderberries are a favorite family remedy for upper respiratory tract infections. However, there have been some rumors about the safety of elderberries. This article covers the safe use of elderberries, the history of elderberry use in pregnancy and lactation, contraindications to elderberry use, and the harm caused by the improper preparation of elderberry products.

Table of Contents

Medicinal Uses Of Elderberry Syrup

Elderberry syrup has a long history of use in natural medicine. It has been used to treat coughs and colds, boost the immune system, reduce fever, help with joint problems, reduce allergic/asthmatic symptoms, and help restore the body to health after illness. 

Modern use of elderberry syrup focuses on elderberry’s ability to treat viral upper respiratory infections, like minor coughs, colds, and influenza. Since 2020, there has been increasing research into elderberry’s ability to treat coronaviruses, and though more study is required, elderberry looks like a promising treatment or adjunctive treatment for COVID-19.  

Elderberry syrup is also commonly used as a seasonal immune-strengthening agent for kids and adults. In my practice, I often prescribe Elderberry Elixir as a daily preventative during the fall and winter months for people of all ages. However, when it comes to pregnant and breastfeeding women, I prefer short-term use to err on the side of caution. 

Safety Of Elderberry Syrup In Pregnancy & Lactation
Benefits of elderberry during pregnancy

While pregnant or breastfeeding, it is vital for women to consider the safety of what they consume, as this may affect the long-term health of their children. Given this knowledge, it makes sense to question whether the medications and supplements we commonly use are safe during pregnancy and lactation. 

Unfortunately, we don’t have human trials demonstrating the safety and efficacy of most medications and herbal supplements during pregnancy and lactation. Instead, we have to rely on other evidence, including observational studies of use during pregnancy, case reports, animal studies, knowledge of chemical constituents, and traditional use.  

Many herbalists consider elderberry likely safe for use during pregnancy and lactation given that there have been no adverse effects reported despite regular use by pregnant and lactating women. In addition, elderberries are commonly consumed as part of the usual diet in some cultures, even during pregnancy and lactation. Elderberry doesn’t contain phytochemicals known to increase the risk of miscarriage, cause birth defects, change hormonal function, or reduce breast milk supply. However, animal studies and human studies are lacking so some urge caution. 

Elderberry syrup is traditionally used for short-term (5-7 days) treatment of upper respiratory infections during pregnancy and lactation rather than as a daily immune booster. In my clinical practice, I reserve Elderberry Elixir as a short-term treatment for most moms; instead, I have them take a probiotic and a mushroom based immune enhancer if needed, like Mother’s Immunity Support. As always, speak to your doctor or midwife before taking any supplements during pregnancy or lactation. 

A Case Of Cyanide Toxicity From Raw Elderberries In A Smoothie

Unripe, raw, and unprocessed elderberries contain high levels of phytochemicals called cyanogenic glycosides. The human body easily manages and excretes cyanogenic glycosides in low quantities; however, cyanogenic glycosides can cause cyanide poisoning if consumed in high quantities. Many common foods like almonds, stone fruits, chickpeas, cashews, lima beans, flax seeds, and more contain low levels of cyanogenic glycosides and are safely consumed by humans of all ages. It is only high levels of cyanogenic glycosides that are problematic.

A previous version of this article stated that a review of the past 30 years had found no cases of cyanide poisoning from elderberries. However, in January 2022, a smoothie company used raw elderberries in a frozen smoothie product sold online in Canada, resulting in several cases of mild cyanide toxicity and a recall of the product

The cyanide toxicity from raw elderberries in the 2022 incident was mild and symptoms were confined to the gastrointestinal tract. However, this underscores the importance of purchasing herbal supplements from companies that have true herbal expertise and stringent manufacturing standards.

Reasons For Caution With Elderberry Supplements

I hesitate to recommend an elderberry supplement if someone is taking medication to suppress the immune system. Elderberry may make certain immune-suppressing medications less effective so caution is urged. 

Some theorize that elderberry supplements may worsen autoimmune conditions or cause flares as elderberry can stimulate the immune system. However, I have not been able to find any case reports of this occurring and I have not seen it in my practice. For more information, see this article Immune Stimulating vs Immune Modulating vs Immune Tonic (and what that means for cytokine storms, allergies, and autoimmunity) – Dr. Green Mom


Elderberry has a long history of use by pregnant and breastfeeding women, but human safety trials are lacking. In my practice, I often recommend that pregnant and breastfeeding women take Elderberry Elixir for up to 7 days for the short-term treatment of upper respiratory tract infections. 

Choosing which herbs to take during pregnancy and while breastfeeding is personal and should be guided by a qualified professional who understands herbal medicine.


Wieland, L. S., Piechotta, V., Feinberg, T., Ludeman, E., Hutton, B., Kanji, S., Seely, D., & Garritty, C. (2021). Elderberry for prevention and treatment of viral respiratory illnesses: a systematic review. , (1), 112.

Hawkins, J., Baker, C., Cherry, L., & Dunne, E. (2019). Black elderberry (Sambucus nigra) supplementation effectively treats upper respiratory symptoms: A meta-analysis of randomized, controlled clinical trials. , , 361–365.

Brendler, T., Al-Harrasi, A., Bauer, R., Gafner, S., Hardy, M. L., Heinrich, M., Hosseinzadeh, H., Izzo, A. A., Michaelis, M., Nassiri-Asl, M., Panossian, A., Wasser, S. P., & Williamson, E. M. (2021). Botanical drugs and supplements affecting the immune response in the time of COVID-19: Implications for research and clinical practice. , (6), 3013–3031.

Stich, L., Plattner, S., McDougall, G., Austin, C., & Steinkasserer, A. (2022). Polysaccharides from European Black Elderberry Extract Enhance Dendritic Cell Mediated T Cell Immune Responses. , (7), 3949.

Kinoshita, E., Hayashi, K., Katayama, H., Hayashi, T., & Obata, A. (2012). Anti-influenza virus effects of elderberry juice and its fractions. , (9), 1633–1638.

Mocanu, M. L., & Amariei, S. (2022). Elderberries-A Source of Bioactive Compounds with Antiviral Action. , (6), 740.

Przybylska-Balcerek, A., Szablewski, T., Szwajkowska-Michałek, L., Świerk, D., Cegielska-Radziejewska, R., Krejpcio, Z., Suchowilska, E., Tomczyk, Ł., & Stuper-Szablewska, K. (2021). Sambucus Nigra Extracts-Natural Antioxidants and Antimicrobial Compounds. , (10), 2910.

Holst, L., Havnen, G. C., & Nordeng, H. (2014). Echinacea and elderberry-should they be used against upper respiratory tract infections during pregnancy?. , , 31. 

Tiralongo, E., Wee, S. S., & Lea, R. A. (2016). Elderberry Supplementation Reduces Cold Duration and Symptoms in Air-Travellers: A Randomized, Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial. , (4), 182.  

Elderberry Clinical Guide 

Elderberry: Health Benefits, Side Effects, Uses, Dose & Precautions

Appenteng MK, Krueger R, Johnson MC, Ingold H, Bell R, Thomas AL, Greenlief CM. Cyanogenic Glycoside Analysis in American Elderberry. Molecules. 2021 Mar 4;26(5):1384. doi: 10.3390/molecules26051384. PMID: 33806603; PMCID: PMC7961730. 

Elderberry. (2021). In . National Library of Medicine (US).

Alrumaihi, F., Almatroudi, A., Allemailem, K. S., Rahmani, A. H., Khan, A., & Khan, M. A. (2020). Therapeutic Effect of Bilsaan, Stem Exudate, on the OVA-Induced Allergic Asthma in Mice. , , 3620192. 

Jabbari, M., Hashempur, M. H., Razavi, S. Z., Shahraki, H. R., Kamalinejad, M., & Emtiazy, M. (2016). Efficacy and short-term safety of topical Dwarf Elder (Sambucus ebulus L.) versus diclofenac for knee osteoarthritis: A randomized, double-blind, active-controlled trial. , , 80–86.

Harnett, J., Oakes, K., Carè, J., Leach, M., Brown, D., Cramer, H., Pinder, T. A., Steel, A., & Anheyer, D. (2020). The effects of berry on acute respiratory viral infections: A rapid review of clinical studies. , (4), 240–246.

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January 10, 2023
— Update: 07-02-2023 — found an additional article Is It Safe to Take Elderberry While Pregnant? from the website for the keyword benefits of elderberry during pregnancy.

Benefits of elderberry during pregnancy

If you have ever scrolled through a list of remedies to relieve the many discomforts of a pregnant body, you have stumbled across elderberries. The plant-derivative antioxidant is touted for numerous health benefits and appears in nearly every herbal tea recipe or health store aisle.

However, it is not wise to promote the use of elderberry while pregnant without thoroughly understanding the situation. Pregnancy makes you vulnerable to various dietary supplements during its duration and even afterward for nursing.

Let’s dissect this matter and look through available evidence to answer the following question: can you take elderberry while pregnant?

Elderberry During Pregnancy

Elderberry’s high antioxidant capacity works in its favor to credit it with many feats. It is a true powerhouse ingredient that brings a unique blend of nutrients and immunity.

This ability to enhance immune system function makes elderberry one of the most sought-after supplements on the market. Before we look into what research says regarding its use for pregnancy, let us quickly understand the origin of elderberry.

What is Elderberry?

Elderberries are a natural antioxidant fruit that comes from the European elder tree. Black elderberry (Sambucus nigra) has a medicinal history that dates back centuries, all the way to early Greeks and Americans. The berries are touted as an effective herbal remedy, often preferred over traditional medicine.

Folk medicine widely recognizes the therapeutic elderberry benefits. Allegedly, Hippocrates thought of them as his “medicine chest,” while early Europeans saw them as a spiritual deity of healing.

Is Elderberry Safe During Pregnancy?

There is simply not enough evidence to provide a conclusive answer to elderberry’s safety during pregnancy. While science backs up most of its health benefits, we suggest you talk to your physician before using it as a supplement for a healthy pregnancy.

Several studies have expressed the ambiguity of this usage and highlighted the dire need for more research.

One study focused on the results collected from a survey at the University of California, Women’s Health Clinic. Out of 150 participants, 20 women had used dietary supplements, including elderberry, during pregnancy.

Read more  15 Clever Ways You Should Be Using Coffee Grounds Around the House

While most reported side effects were mild, they came with varying degrees of gastrointestinal discomfort. Therefore, due to a lack of safety data, it could not deduce whether supplementation can help pregnant women or the fetus.

Another review article from 2014 sets out to answer the same question. Are elderberry and pregnancy a plausible combination, especially against upper respiratory infections? It studied three different clinical trials from the past to provide defining results.

It finds that all trials concerning elderberries provide encouraging results. However, they target small samples only and do not consider the exceptions with pregnancy. Thus, it discourages using elderberry while breastfeeding or during pregnancy until direct research emerges.

Another general study targeting polyphenol consumption during pregnancy produced inconclusive results. It also stressed the need for further research to properly understand the bodily changes in pregnancy due to natural products.

Is Elderberry Safe While Breastfeeding?

A database collected from the National Library of Medicine reviews the potency of Sambucus Nigra for a range of health benefits. While it acknowledges many of the rumored benefits and encourages the use of supplementation, the same is not true for elderberry and breastfeeding.

It details that no evidence has looked into the efficacy of elderberry supplementation for nursing women and its effects on infants and toddlers. While elderberry is safe for children, we cannot say if adding it to breast milk is nutritious or dangerous.

Therefore, we suggest nursing women avoid taking elderberries, given the risk factors.

Health Benefits of Elderberry for Women

  • Boosts Immune System: Elderberry boasts a unique nutrient makeup. It combines the best of vitamins, zinc, anthocyanins, and flavonoids to grant immense immune support to the body. It can strengthen the immune system to adequately respond to foreign invaders and diseases, most notably, cold and flu and even COVID-19.
  • Reduces Bodily Inflammation: Elderberries boast the highest antioxidant capacity among all edible berries. This grants it an upper hand against oxidative stress in the body. Reduced stress leads to lower inflammation. It is even a popular anti-inflammatory therapy for arthritis and allergies, similar in effect to other herbal products like turmeric supplements.
  • Supports Digestion: Research has shown that almost 75% of elderberry’s nutrients are absorbed in the bloodstream. They stimulate the growth of good bacteria to improve gut health and support digestion. It is also known to relieve the body from constipation and IBS.
  • Improves Heart Health: Elderberry supplementation may help lower cholesterol levels and balance the HDL to LDL ratio. It can relax the blood vessels to lower blood pressure, as well. Elderberry may also reduce the chance of developing diabetes by controlling blood sugar levels.
  • Fights Chronic Diseases: Elderberry extract is a researched chemopreventive agent. It has cancer-inhibiting properties, such as reducing tumor cell proliferation and the growth of cancer cells of various kinds in the body.
  • Enhances Skin Health: Elderberry supplementation is an effective dermatological agent that contributes to skin health and hydration. Studies have shown that it may reduce photoaging due to harmful UV rays. It can also treat wounds and reduce acne scars, and even encourage hair growth.

How to Take Elderberry for Immune Support

There are three ways you can take elderberry for immune support, with the preferred way listed first.

Elderberry Gummies

Purchasing elderberry gummies is the best way forward to consume the extract. These gummies combine additional nutrients like vitamin C and zinc to make a thoroughly beneficial product. Thus, they provide much more immunity than other alternatives, and they’re less of a hassle than elderberry capsules.

Elderberry Syrup

Elderberry syrup is a good, off-the-shelf product to use for mild immunity. However, they usually lack the immune punch that comes from added vitamin C and zinc. Thus, they can help treat mild symptoms, but gummies tend to have a slightly higher value.

Elderberry Tea

Elderberry tea is a warm, healthy beverage that can help treat mild discomfort. Similar to syrups, homemade tea cannot provide additional vitamin C and zinc for enhanced immune support. But it’s still a delicious method of consumption for tea drinkers.

Dosage Recommendations

How much elderberry should I take per day? The following recommendations are for women are who NOT pregnant or breastfeeding.

For elderberry extract, you should ideally take between 150-300 mg per day for general health and wellness. This equals roughly 2-4 gummies. For severe cold and flu symptoms, you can take heightened dosages up to 1200 mg per day for a short interval of 2 weeks.

  • Learn More: How much elderberry should you take a day?

Potential Side Effects

What are the side effects of elderberry? Elderberry side effects are rare if you consume it in supplement form from a trusted brand at the recommended dosage. However, make sure you check the label for possible allergies to be on the safe side.

Raw elder fruit is toxic and can trigger gastrointestinal discomfort. Elderberry also lowers blood sugar levels, so diabetic patients should be mindful of the quantities they consume. If you suffer from thyroid disease, you should consult a doctor before using elderberry.

Final Thoughts on Elderberry While Pregnant

Is elderberry safe during pregnancy? For otherwise healthy individuals, elderberry is a safe, beneficial supplement that has many healing tendencies. But during pregnancy, we cannot be sure since there has been no direct research on the matter.

Most pregnant women eat berries and rely on vitamin C all the time. Therefore, it is still unlikely that elderberries pose any significant danger to them. Regardless, we suggest you avoid elderberry during pregnancy until more information emerges.

  • Our Picks: Best Elderberry Gummies for Kids

— Update: 09-02-2023 — found an additional article Can You Take Elderberry During Pregnancy? from the website for the keyword benefits of elderberry during pregnancy.

Benefits of elderberry during pregnancy

Image: iStock

Elderberry or elders are dark purple berries indigenous to Europe. Various parts of the Elderberry plant are used in traditional and folk medicine to treat cold, flu, and constipation (1). Although you can take Elderberry when pregnant, you should also exercise caution as consuming raw elderberries can adversely affect your health and that of your unborn baby.

Keep reading as we tell you about the safety of Elderberry for pregnant women, its health benefits and side effects, and the different ways you can consume elderberry when pregnant.

Is Elderberry Safe During Pregnancy?

Yes, elderberries are considered to be safe during pregnancy, since there is no studies/ data collected indicating that they have any adverse side effects, drug interactions, and food or nutrient reactions in pregnant women.

Black elderberries are also considered safe for consumption and are known to support immune system as dark purple elders do. There are no studies suggesting they have adverse effects during pregnancy.

However, unripe berries are toxic and should be avoided, while the ripened ones should be consumed in moderation.

Health Benefits Of Eating Elderberry During Pregnancy

Elderberries contain significant amounts of vitamins, amino acids, and flavonoids, all of which help in staying healthy and preventing disease.

  1. Promotes respiratory health: Rich in bioflavonoids such as anthocyanins, elderberries can soothe irritation and inflammation in the respiratory tract. Bioflavonoids also have expectorant properties that clear out phlegm and promote respiratory health. Therefore, elderberries aid in clearing sore throat, cough, cold, bronchitis and other respiratory ailments (2).
  1. Boosts immunity: The antibacterial, anti-viral properties, and good vitamin c content of elderberries boost the immune system and help it fight the flu viruses more effectively. Berries also improve the production of cytokines, which is a new class of immune compounds.
  1. Strengthens bones: The richness of anthocyanins in elderberries makes it an anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant food that alleviates pain and soreness of joints. High mineral content in berries promotes bone strength and reduces bone loss (3).
  1. Improves vision: Anthocyanin pigments found in elderberries are nutraceuticals that help maintain vision. They offer protection for eyesight and are usually associated with improving night vision (4).
  1. Improves cardiovascular health: High fiber content in elderberries helps in eliminating bad cholesterol from the body and promotes good cholesterol levels. Moreover, it prevents the progression of atherosclerosis, minimizes blood pressure and safeguards heart (5).
  1. Treats infections: Studies suggest that elderberry may benefit pregnant women and their unborn babies. Elderberry may reduce the risk of bacterial vaginosis, a common vaginal infection. In vitro studies show that elderberry extracts inhibit the growth of bacteria associated with urinary tract infections. Elderberry extract is also effective against Helicobacter pylori, a bacterium that causes ulcers and stomach inflammation. Another study suggested that elderberry may help prevent respiratory infections caused by viruses like influenza (8).

Consuming Different Forms Of Elderberry During Pregnancy

Elderberry can be consumed in different forms, some readily available in the market and the others you can make yourself. Whatever you choose, contact your doctor before trying them.

1. Elderberry syrup:

Image: Shutterstock

Elderberry syrup is known to fight cold and flu. It is a great immunity booster and is effective to use during pregnancy on doctor’s advice, especially for cold, flu and other respiratory issues (9).

You can make a simple elderberry syrup at home by combining berries with water and maple syrup or honey. Store it in the refrigerator, and take a spoonful of it every day to keep the infection away (10).

2. Elderberry tea:

Image: iStock

You can either use tea bags or one tablespoon of dried berries or flowers in eight ounces of water to make elderberry tea.

3. Elderberry juice:

Image: Shutterstock

For elderberry juice, choose freshly made, that is sweet and tangy in taste. Do not consider packaged drinks as they contain too much sugar. According to the American Botanical Council, you can consume eight ounces of expressed elder juice twice a day (for 3 – 5 days) to beat cold and flu symptoms.

4. Elderberry jam:

Image: Shutterstock

It is an excellent addition to fresh bread and butter, oatcakes, warm crumpets, rice pudding or Greek yogurt. You may also add it to muffins, pancakes, fruit salads and crumbles.

Simple recipe to make homemade elderberry jam

You will need

  • 700 grams elderberries
  • ½ a lemon’s juice
  • 700 grams caster sugar
  • 600ml jar

How to make

  1. Combine elderberries and lemon juice in a pan and cook over a medium heat.
  2. Once the juice starts to run and boil, simmer the heat and keep for 20 minutes. Take away the layer that forms on the surface.
  3. Add sugar and stir until it dissolves. Boil until it reaches a set point, which is 105° C. You can check the temperature using a sugar thermometer.
  4. Another alternative is to keep a couple of saucers in the freezer for 10 minutes and slice a spoon of jam to add into the cold saucers. Leave for 10 to 15 seconds and push with your finger. If it forms wrinkles, it has reached the setting point.
  5. Store the jam in a warm, sterilized jar, and close it tightly. Keep the jar in a dark and cool place.

5. Elderberry gummies:

Image: Shutterstock

Gummies are a delicious way to consume the flu-busting antioxidants with the gut-healing properties of the fruit. To make them at home,

You will need

1 cup elderberry syrup
4tbsp unflavored gelatin

How to make

  1. Combine gelatin and syrup in a saucepan, and put over low heat. Whisk it frequently, heat until the gelatin dissolves.
  2. With the use of an eye dropper, transfer the mixture into molds made of silicone. Refrigerate, and allow it to solidify for about 30 minutes.
  3. Remove gummies from the molds, and store them in an airtight jar.

Read more  6 Health Benefits of Celery Juice & Why I Drink It On An Empty Stomach

What Are The Side Effects Of Taking Elderberry While Pregnant?

Besides its powerful benefits, there are certain side effects that should be kept in mind while consuming it. Ripe and cooked berries are safe to consume. However, you should not eat raw or unripe berries in any form.

  • Raw elderberries contain bitter alkaloids, sambucine, and hydrocyanic acid, which will cause nausea and vomiting. These alkaloids are less in ripe berries, and are destroyed when cooked (11).
  • Another safety concern involves autoimmune diseases. If you are already experiencing lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, and multiple sclerosis, taking elderberry stimulates the nervous system, thus intensifying the disease symptoms (12).


— Update: 09-02-2023 — found an additional article Elderberry During Pregnancy: Nutrition Facts and Benefits from the website for the keyword benefits of elderberry during pregnancy.

Eating fruits during pregnancy is very beneficial not only for the expecting mother but also for the baby present inside. Fruits contain essential nutrients, and vitamins that help in the growth of the baby, besides giving immunity to both the pregnant lady and baby present inside. Some fruits have the ability to treat minor diseases like colds, flu, constipation, etc. One such fruit that pregnant women can eat during their pregnancy is the elderberry. The fruit, leaves, flower, the bark of the elderberry plant is used in traditional medicine to treat small complications during pregnancy. Elderberry is used as an immunity booster that can prevent minor flu and colds from attacking the pregnant lady.

Elderberry During Pregnancy: Is it Safe to Eat?

Elderberries are dark purple or blackberries commonly known in Telugu as ‘ParikiPandlu.’ These are the native of European countries. Elderberries are also referred to as Sambucus berries that grow on the Sambucus tree, a flowering plant that grows in the Adoxaceae family. There are about 30 varieties of elder trees and plants that grow around the world. Of them, Sambucusnigra (the European version) is used to prepare traditional medicines. Though these berries have many medicinal properties, there are no proven pieces of evidence about safety during pregnancy. But, most of them say that eating elderberry during pregnancy is quite safe as long as you consume them in limited quantities. However, unripe elderberries are not safe and cause complications.

Nutritional Values of Elderberry:

These are low-calorie food rich in antioxidants. Along with this, elderberries are high in Vitamin C. 100gm of elderberries contains the following nutrients.

  • 18.4 gms of Carbohydrates
  • 6-35mg of Vitamin C
  • Seven gms of fibre
  • Good source of phenolic acids
  • High in anthocyanins
  • Less than 1gm of fat

These fruits are rich in antioxidant flavonols, isorhamnetin, kaempferol, and quercetin. These flavonoids contain anti-viral, anti-allergic, anti-tumour, and anti-inflammatory properties in them.

Health Benefits of Elderberry During Pregnancy:

Elderberries have a reasonable amount of Vitamins, flavonoids, and amino acids that help in boosting immunity and stay healthy. Some of the health benefits are:

1. Boosts Immunity:

The Vitamin C content, anti-viral, and anti-bacterial properties present in these berries boost the immune system and fight the viruses that cause colds and flu. !The production of Cytokines, a new class of immune compounds, is improved by the elderberries.

2. Strengthens Joints and Bones:

During pregnancy, the pregnant lady often suffers from joint pains. Consuming elderberry can strengthen the joints and bones in the body. The anthocyanins present in elderberries reduce the soreness and pain in the joints. Moreover, the high mineral content in these berries promotes bone strength.

3. Promotes Respiratory Health:

Elderberries are rich in bioflavonoids such as anthocyanins that can soothe inflammation and irritation in the respiratory tract. The expectorant properties present in the bioflavonoids have the ability to clear out phlegm. Hence, elderberries are used to treat colds, sore throats, coughs, and other respiratory ailments.

4. Improves Vision:

During pregnancy, various changes happen to the body of the pregnant woman. Sometimes the vision decreases. Consuming elderberries can improve vision. The anthocyanin pigments present in the elderberries are nutraceuticals that help in maintaining vision.

5. Improves Bowel Movements:

Constipation is one of the common complaints from pregnant ladies. This is because, during pregnancy, pregnant women eat nutritious food every 2 hours. This may sometimes cause constipation. Including elderberries in your diet can give relief from constipation.

Risks of Taking Elderberry During Pregnancy:

Any food that is taken in excess harms the body. Besides, numerous health benefits some risks and side effects are associated with it

  • Unripe and raw elderberries contain toxins that may harm the body. These berries contain hydrocyanic acid, alkaloids, and sambucine which may cause vomiting and nausea.
  • Elderberry plants contain a substance called cyanogenic glycosides that release cyanides in some circumstances. The cyanides poison the body and may even kill the pregnant woman and the baby. (A)
  • If you are already experiencing rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, or Crohn’s disease consuming elderberry stimulates the nervous system, further intensifying the disease symptoms.
  • Elderberries are considered to be diuretics. During pregnancy, you are already visiting the washroom once in two hours. Eating elderberry can make you visit the bathroom more times than usual.

How To Eat Elderberry During Pregnancy:

Elderberry during pregnancy can be consumed in various forms. Some are readily available in the market, while some others can be easily made at home. Listed down are some of the varieties of elderberry to consume

1. Elderberry Syrup:

This syrup is known to protect your body by fighting the cold and flu. This is considered one of the best immunity boosters during pregnancy.


  1. Handful of elderberries
  2. Maple Syrup or honey

How To Prepare and Dosage:

  • Take a handful of elderberries and squeeze the purple liquid from the berries.
  • Combine this liquid with sufficient water and add honey or maple syrup to it.
  • Store in the refrigerator and consume a spoonful of this syrup every day to boost immunity.

2. Elderberry Tea:

Some pregnant ladies may have the habit of drinking tea before pregnancy. They can choose to drink elderberry tea to satisfy their cravings along with increasing immunity.


  • Elderberry tea bags
  • One tablespoon of dried berries or flowers
  • 8 ounces of water.

How To Prepare and Dosage:

  • To prepare this tea, you can use either tea bags or dried berries or flowers.
  • Dip the tea bags in hot water for 5 minutes and enjoy the tea.
  • Or you can drop dried berries or flowers in boiling water to prepare this tea.
  • If you liked the taste of this tea, drink it once in the morning and once in the evening.

3. Elderberry Juice:

This juice is similar to syrup, but the only difference is the thickness of the juice. Syrups are usually very thick in consistency than juice. The benefits are the same as that of syrup.


  • Handful of elderberries
  • Some water or ice cubes
  • Sugar (if required)

How To Prepare and Dosage:

  • Take a handful of elderberries and squeeze the purple liquid from the berries.
  • If required, add some water or ice cubes to the juice. If the collected berries taste a bit sour, add some sugar to the juice.
  • It is recommended to use fresh berries rather than stored ones.

4. Elderberry Jam:

Elderberry jam is quite similar to the regular jams we use at our house. This jam will make an excellent addition to oatcakes, muffins, fresh bread and butter, yoghurt, or rice pudding.


  • 700 gms of elderberries
  • 700 gms of sugar
  • ½ cup Lemon juice

How To Prepare and Dosage:

  • Take a pan and mix the elderberries and lemon juice. Cook this over a medium flame.
  • Simmer the heat once the juice starts to boil and keep it for 20 minutes.
  • Now add sugar to the juice and stir well until the sugar gets dissolved.
  • Boil this thick liquid until it reaches a set point, i.e., 105 degrees.
  • Store this jam in a warm and sterilized jar. Close the lid tightly and store it in a cold and dark place. Your yummy jam is ready to eat.

5. Elderberry Gummies:

Gummies are the delicious and best way to intake this immunity booster. Pregnant ladies crave chocolates and gummies during pregnancy. These gummies can be best served to satisfy cravings.


  • 1 cup of elderberry syrup.
  • Four tablespoons of unflavored gelatin.
  • Silicone moulds.

How To Prepare and Dosage:

  • Mix the elderberry syrup and gelatin in a saucepan and put it over a low flame.
  • Whisk it frequently until the gelatin gets dissolved completely.
  • Using an eyedropper, transfer this mixture into the silicone moulds.
  • Put the moulds in a refrigerator and allow them to solidify.
  • Remove the gummies from the moulds and kept them in a sealed container.

There are no proven studies about the safety of consuming this fantastic berry during pregnancy. Although elderberry is used to treat minor diseases like flu, cold, etc., lack of proper research makes this berry a questionable food during pregnancy. Many say that it is quite safe to eat elderberry during pregnancy as long as you limit the intake. Elderberry can be consumed in different forms, as mentioned above. Try out some of the above recipes and share your experience with us. Don’t forget to consult your doctor before consuming this berry.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are just suggestions, and the website is in no way responsible for the side effects it may cause. It is better to consult a doctor before you eat anything, especially when you are pregnant.

Q1. Is it Safe to Eat Elderberry During Breastfeeding?

Ans: There is no proper research on the safety of consuming elderberry during and after pregnancy. However, it is safe not to consume this berry during and after pregnancy. Look out for some other alternatives to elderberry.

Q2. What are the Safe Alternatives for Elderberry?

Ans: Since there is no proper research on consuming elderberry during pregnancy, the alternatives for this berry can be tart berries. Also, if you feel like having tea, drink green tea during pregnancy.

— Update: 10-02-2023 — found an additional article Is Elderberry Safe to Take During Pregnancy? Syrup, Tea and More from the website for the keyword benefits of elderberry during pregnancy.

Not the typical berries you can find in your local produce aisle, elderberries are instead becoming a staple in the pharmacy. Found everywhere from common cold medicines and herbal teas, it’s no wonder many women question whether this berry is safe to take during pregnancy. 

Elderberries have a lot going for them, especially when it comes to boosting immunity and squashing sickness. Elderberries are best reserved for after pregnancy, however, as there is simply not enough research to determine how safe elderberry is when you’re pregnant.

Elderberries are now available in a number of different forms. I’ll break down the difference between elderberry syrups, teas, supplements, and more as well as clue you into which (if any) might be safe during pregnancy.

Is Elderberry Syrup Safe During Pregnancy? 

Elderberries aren’t just for making pie! More often nowadays, elderberries are made into a strong herbal syrup. Store-bought elderberry syrups are also available, and becoming more popular (hello, convenience). These syrups are not eaten with food, but rather taken as a medication or home remedy similar to old-school liquid cough syrups. 

Read more  11 Surprising Vinegar Benefits + Side Effects

Benefits of elderberry during pregnancy

High in vitamin C and antioxidants, many families use elderberry extract as a non-pharmaceutical way to support immune health. Elderberry syrup is typically used in two ways: 

  • taken daily to boost immunity and prevent illness
  • used as medication while sick to shorten the duration of illness

Some research has shown that taking elderberry while sick can actually decrease the number of sick days by about 4 days (source: Journal of International Medical Research). Patients with respiratory illness also had lower measured levels of inflammation after taking elderberry (source: BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies). 

Many elderberry syrups are also labeled as cough syrup, but I wasn’t able to find any evidence that taking elderberry syrups helps to calm coughing. These products often contain other herbal ingredients such as echinacea, which is a common ingredient in throat-cooling lozenges and cough drops. 

Similar to many other herbal products, very little research has been done to verify the safety of elderberry during pregnancy. While we know elderberry is safe to use in healthy adults, there is just not enough information to be able to safely recommend elderberry in pregnancy (source: Frontiers in Pharmacology). 

Elderberry syrups, including elderberry cough syrup, are also considered to be dietary supplements and not medications, meaning they are not monitored by the FDA. 

You may notice products specifically labeled as ‘black elderberry.’ Elderberries can be either blue or black in color. Both blue and black elderberries are produced by the same species of shrub, and therefore should be treated equally when it comes to their safety profile. 

Some women do prefer elderberry syrup over pharmaceutical-grade medications when ill. If you feel strongly, consult with your medical provider about what options are available for you throughout your pregnancy.

Is Elderberry Tea Safe When Pregnant? 

Elderberry teas are another way to partake in the berries’ immune health benefits that feels a bit more familiar. Elderberry teas come in many shapes and sizes. Some are geared towards immune support and feature elderberry as their star ingredient, while others include smaller amounts of elderberry for flavor. A few common elderberry teas are:

  • Rishi Elderberry Healer
  • Super Green Tea Immunity blend
  • Yogi Elderberry Lemon Balm
  • Tazo Elderberry Blackberry

Similar to elderberry syrup, there isn’t enough research to show whether elderberry (of any kind) is safe while pregnant. Drinking elderberry tea on occasion is likely to provide a much smaller amount of the berry compared to concentrated syrups, especially the teas where elderberry is included for flavor only. 

So while there is not any existing research to show the safety of elderberry teas specifically, these are likely a safer choice due to the smaller quantity of elderberry consumed when drinking a cup of tea. 

If you do sip on a cup of elderberry-containing tea, be sure to thoroughly read the label beforehand to ensure there are no unsafe herbs hiding on the ingredients list. Many teas contain a blend of herbs and spices, so it is always best to double-check.

Even though elderberry teas likely contain herbs, they may not all be herbal teas. This means there is a chance that they are caffeinated, especially if black or red tea is used as the base. Be sure to count these types of teas towards your daily caffeine intake. 

Are Elderberry Gummies or Supplements Safe When Pregnant? 

Not only is elderberry available as a syrup, but tablets, gummies, tinctures, and other forms are often sold in pharmacies. A few of the most popular brands include:

  • Mary Ruthe’s Organics
  • Garden of Life
  • Zarbees
  • Sambucus
  • Sambucol

Elderberry products across all of these brands (and many more) have two main things in common. 1) They are all considered to be dietary supplements, and thus not evaluated or monitored by the FDA. 2) There is not enough research to show that elderberry products are safe to take throughout pregnancy. 

Just like elderberry syrup, the lack of research into their safety in pregnancy means that elderberry herbal supplements also cannot be safely recommended for pregnant folks. 

Can I Take Elderberry Every Day When Pregnant?

As I’ve already discussed, the little amount of safety information currently available for elderberries means they are not recommended to take during pregnancy- and certainly not every day!

Elderberry teas are a gray area since they are likely less concentrated than elderberry supplements though still do not have much safety information available. If you chose to drink elderberry-containing tea, it is best to do so in moderation while pregnant. 

If you decide to continue consuming elderberry despite the lack of safety information, be sure to have a conversation with your medical provider about how much and what types are appropriate for you and your unique health situation. 

Benefits of elderberry during pregnancy

Can I Take Elderberry in Early Pregnancy? Miscarriage Risks Explained 

A quick internet search turned up quite a few rumors that taking elderberry herb in pregnancy can lead to miscarriage. Most of these rumors focused on taking large amounts of raw/uncooked berries.

Despite the several online rumors, there does not appear to be any scientific evidence that shows elderberries are a risk for miscarriage- or any other adverse effects for that matter. 

No matter what trimester of pregnancy you are in, the hold up for elderberry safety is how little we currently know about their effects on pregnancy. 

Taking elderberries for immune support and to get through an illness is only increasing in popularity. Because of their rise in popularity, I would not be surprised in the slightest if more research is done in the coming years, including on how elderberries might affect a pregnant mother and her growing baby. 

Are There Benefits of Elderberry for Pregnant Women? 

Naturally high in antioxidants and vitamin C, elderberries seem like the natural choice for boosting immunity and preventing illness while pregnant, especially for those looking to soothe illness symptoms sans medications. 

1 cup of raw elderberries contains over 50 milligrams of vitamin C, meeting about 60% of your daily needs (source: USDA, NIH)!

The antioxidant and immune support power of these little berries have led to them being studied as a treatment for viral and respiratory infections. Amounts of studies have even shown that taking elderberry while sick helps to shorten the number of sick days (source: Journal of International Medical Research).

Though elderberries might be an effective treatment or co-treatment for illnesses, the fruit is not recommended during pregnancy.

If you are living with a partner, however, keeping them healthy is one step to keeping yourself and your baby healthy. Stick to treatments approved during pregnancy and save the elderberry products for your partner to keep your whole household feeling well. 

Benefits of elderberry during pregnancy

To boost your immune system safely while pregnant, there are other options. Eating a balanced diet with a colorful variety of fruits and veggies can offer just as much vitamin C and antioxidants as elderberries do. A few fruits and veggies high in these nutrients include:

  • Cherries
  • Peppers
  • Oranges and other citrus
  • Tomatoes
  • Broccoli
  • Potatoes
  • Other berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, etc.)

Keeping hydrated is another benign way to keep your immune system in tip-top shape, not to mention helpful for other pregnancy-related symptoms such as constipation and morning sickness. 

Though they look like a fruit, the current research and considerations for elderberry make it more similar to herbal products when it comes to safety in pregnancy.

Even though elderberry is best reserved for after pregnancy, hopefully, this article has provided you with other verified pregnancy-safe options to keep yourself (and your developing baby) feeling well throughout your pregnancy. 

This article has been reviewed and approved for publication in line with our editorial policy.

— Update: 10-02-2023 — found an additional article Can You Take Elderberry While You're Pregnant? from the website for the keyword benefits of elderberry during pregnancy.

It is tempting to reach for natural remedies when cold, flu, or allergy season beckons. And when you're pregnant, something as seemingly insignificant as a stuffy nose can feel like a big deal when you're limited on what you can safely take to remedy the symptom.

Many parents have touted the benefits of elderberry, or Sambucus nigra, which comes from the berries of a tree native to Europe, and is prepared in several ways, including pills, lozenges, syrups, and gummies. This natural herb is widely considered a gentle yet effective remedy that is now featured on grocery stores and pharmacy shelves as a safe alternative to harsher medicines.

But how effective—and safe—is elderberry, and is it safe to take if you're pregnant?

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What the Science Says

Elderberries do have some health benefits. “They have antibacterial, antiviral, and cytokines-producing properties, all of which boost the immune system,” says Kecia Gaither, M.D., M.P.H., double board-certified in OB-GYN and maternal-fetal medicine. “This helps fight cold and flu viruses.” Elderberries also have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, are high in fiber, and can even help decrease “bad” cholesterol in the body, adds Dr. Gaither.

But research is limited on the safety of elderberry in pregnancy. “There is not enough sufficient data on the use of elderberry during pregnancy or lactation,” says Shuhan He, M.D., an emergency medicine physician at Massachusetts General Hospital. “One study reported gastrointestinal (GI) distress in pregnant women taking elderberry. However, recognize that everybody’s body reacts differently, and many people experience no side effects at all.”

In another study, researchers analyzed 1,187 records that included five randomized clinical trials to see if elderberry is an effective medicine for preventing and treating viral respiratory illnesses (like cold and flu). Unfortunately, there was no evidence that elderberry could prevent or stop the viruses. In some instances, elderberry was able to quicken the duration of viral infections. However, the evidence there is weak and needs more research.

It may be a safer option than some over-the-counter or prescription drugs, but that still doesn’t guarantee it won’t have adverse effects, says holistic wellness practitioner Audrey Christie, MSN, RN, CCMA. “There haven’t been any adverse events reported with elderberry extract, but it is important to use caution,” says Christie.

And be warned: Unripened elderberries are toxic and should be avoided, says. Dr. Gaither. The same goes for preparations made from the plant’s bark, leaves, or flower, due to the risk of poisoning.

Elderberry Is Not FDA-Approved

Another big drawback: Elderberry is regulated as an herbal supplement and is not a drug approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA doesn’t have to approve a supplement before it goes on sale, and it’s up to the company that manufactures it to label it properly and ensure its safety. Only after it’s on the market can the FDA deem a supplement unsafe.

That’s why it’s essential to be a savvy consumer during pregnancy and even after when purchasing and taking herbal supplements. Only buy from companies you trust and those that follow Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP), and it’s best to avoid purchasing homemade preparations.

So elderberry may not be the magical pregnancy cure-all you're looking for. Don't stress. Experts note other ways to stay healthy during pregnancy. “The foundational pieces of a good immune system no matter your age are sleep, plenty of whole plant food, stress mitigation, and getting vitamin D,” says Christie.

And don't forget good old soap and water. “Keeping up good hand hygiene is key,” notes Dr. He.

The Bottom Line

There isn't enough research to guarantee that elderberry is safe during pregnancy. As with any supplement consumed during pregnancy, it's important to speak to your physician first.


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About the Author: Tung Chi