Elderberry has been used in folk medicine for centuries to treat influenza, colds and sinusitis, and it has been reported to have antiviral activity against influenza and herpes simplex. Many elderberry supplements have been top selling items in health food stores, particularly oral black elderberry syrup, highly rated for its efficacy and safety. However, beware of eating elderberries raw. Raw elderberries contain a chemical similar to cyanide.
Sambucol, a formulation of black elderberry syrup, has the ability to help people get through cold and flu. Many users have reported that elderberry was able to minimize flu severity and shorten illness when taken as soon as flu symptoms appeared. Elderberry contains antioxidants called flavonoids which can stimulate the immune system, as well as a compound called anthocyanins which contain an anti-inflammatory effect. A study published in the Journal of International Medical Research shows that the majority of flu patients given Sambucol were completely symptom-free after just two days of taking the supplement. Moreover, elderberry syrup products can be given to children with no side effects or negative interactions.