elderberry reduces symptom severity and duration of acute respiratory infections like cold and flu

Elderberry is an amazing herb for fighting off cold and flu. It is remarkable at blocking proteins that allow viruses to attach to your cells and enter them. It also effectively inhibits the virus from propagating at later stages if the virus has gotten into the cell.

A recent meta-analysis confirmed that elderberry significantly reduces both the severity and duration of the symptoms of the cold and flu. And now a new review of the research adds to the evidence.

The new review specifically asked whether elderberry extract could improve “outcomes in those with acute respiratory viral infections.” The review included 936 people in five different studies. The conditions the researchers looked at included influenza, influenza-like symptoms and the common cold. Four of the studies used elderberry extract alone, and one combined it with echinacea.

Compared to control groups, every study found a reduction in symptom severity in the elderberry group. There was an overall reduction of symptoms, a shortening of the illness and a reduction in the need for medication in the elderberry groups. One study found that elderberry reduced symptom severity within 48 hours while the symptoms were still getting worse at that time in the control group. As for shortening the illness, three studies found a nearly 50% reduction in duration of illness compared to the control groups.

There were no serious adverse events in the elderberry group.

This review adds important weight to the evidence that elderberry extract safely reduces both symptom severity and duration of acute respiratory infections.

Adv Integr Med 2020;7(4):240-246

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For more on elderberry, see our book Healthy Herbs: Your Everyday Guide to Medicinal Herbs and Their Use.

For much more on preventing and treating cold and flu, see our book The Family Naturopathic Encyclopedia

For comprehensive herbal help with herbs for health, make an appointment to see Linda Woolven nowLinda’s clinic is now open for virtual appointments.


The Natural Path is intended for educational purposes only and is in no way intended for self-diagnosis or self-treatment. For health problems, consult a qualified health practitioner for a comprehensive program.

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