Is it OK to take elderberry while pregnant?

Elderberries are commonly regarded as safe for consumption during pregnancy. However, there is insufficient data, research, and studies available to conclusively identify any potential adverse effects of consuming elderberry while pregnant. Individual reactions to elderberry can vary, and many individuals may not experience any side effects at all. Elderberry products are typically available in various forms such as teas, tablets, and extracts, often used to alleviate symptoms associated with the common cold, flu, constipation, and other ailments.

Guidelines from the US Department of Agriculture caution that elderberries should be cooked before consumption. Raw elderberries contain toxins, making them harmful if ingested without proper preparation. Cooking elderberries effectively removes these toxins, rendering them safe for consumption. It’s important to note that unripe elderberries are particularly toxic and should be strictly avoided. Therefore, if you’re considering incorporating elderberry syrup into your pregnancy diet, it’s advisable to consult with your physician beforehand.

Is it OK to take elderberry while pregnant?
Is it OK to take elderberry while pregnant?

What Is Elderberry?

Elderberry is the dark purple fruit of the elder tree, scientifically known as Sambucus nigra. These berries have been utilized in traditional medicine and cooking for various purposes. They are recognized for their potential health benefits, being rich in antioxidants and vitamins, and possibly possessing immune-boosting properties. It’s crucial to exercise caution when consuming elderberries, as certain parts of the plant can be toxic if not adequately prepared. It is advisable to use elderberry products from reliable sources. Before introducing any new supplement or food into your diet, it is always recommended to consult with a healthcare professional.

Elderberry’s Nutritional Profile

Elderberries, the dark purple fruit of the elder tree, are prized for their potential health benefits and nutritional richness. They boast a diverse array of essential nutrients and antioxidants, making them highly sought-after in both traditional medicine and culinary circles.

– Abundant in Antioxidants: Elderberries are rich in anthocyanins, flavonols, and other antioxidants, which play a key role in combating oxidative stress and promoting overall health.

– High Vitamin C Content: These berries are a significant source of vitamin C, a vital nutrient crucial for immune function, skin health, and wound healing.

– Good Source of Dietary Fiber: Elderberries offer a considerable amount of dietary fiber, which supports healthy digestion and may assist in weight management.

– Contain Vitamin A and Beta-Carotene: They also contain vitamin A and beta-carotene, essential for vision, skin health, and immune function.

– Provide Potassium and Calcium: Elderberries are a source of important minerals such as potassium and calcium, which contribute to maintaining proper heart function and bone health.

– Low in Calories and Fat: With relatively low calorie and fat content, elderberries present a nutritious option for individuals aiming to manage their calorie intake.

Is it Safe to Eat Elderberry During Pregnancy?

Consuming elderberry during pregnancy is generally considered safe, particularly when the berries are fully ripened and consumed in moderation. Some pregnant individuals may opt for elderberry as a natural remedy for common ailments like cold and flu instead of conventional medicines. However, there is limited tangible data, studies, and research available to definitively ascertain potential side effects, interactions with other medications, and impacts on nutritional intake when pregnant individuals consume cooked elderberries or commercially available elderberry supplements.

Existing studies and research on this topic are often limited in scope and scale, highlighting the need for more comprehensive and large-scale studies to better understand the effects of elderberry consumption during pregnancy. It’s essential to consult with your doctor before incorporating elderberry into your pregnancy regimen. Upon receiving approval from your healthcare provider, you can explore using fresh ripe or dried elderberries and experiment with DIY recipes, such as elderberry syrup, as a potential remedy during pregnancy.

Benefits of Consuming Elderberry During Pregnancy

Elderberries serve as a rich source of vitamins, flavonoids, and amino acids, contributing to overall health and disease prevention. Here are several benefits of incorporating elderberry into your diet during pregnancy:

Boosts Immunity

Elderberries are effective in combating cold and flu symptoms. Their high vitamin C content, coupled with antibacterial and antiviral properties, enhances the immune system. Elderberries also stimulate the production of cytokines, further bolstering immunity.

Supports Heart Health

Rich in fiber, elderberries aid in lowering bad cholesterol levels and increasing good cholesterol levels in the body. This fiber content contributes to better heart health and provides protection against cardiovascular diseases.

Alleviates Upper Respiratory Infections

Elderberries possess anti-inflammatory properties that help soothe irritation and inflammation in the respiratory tract. The presence of bioflavonoids helps clear excessive phlegm and mucus, promoting improved respiration. Additionally, elderberries aid in healing conditions such as strep throat, bronchitis, colds, and coughs.

Strengthens Bone Health

Elderberries are utilized in herbal medicine to alleviate joint pain and arthritis symptoms. Anthocyanins present in elderberries act as potent antioxidants and anti-inflammatories, reducing joint soreness and protecting against tissue damage caused by oxidative stress.

Enhances Vision

The abundance of anthocyanins in elderberries contributes to their beneficial effects on eye health. These compounds aid in maintaining optimal vision, particularly in low-light conditions, by providing protection and support for eye function.


Elderberries are packed with essential nutrients beyond antioxidants, including proteins, carbohydrates, phytosterols, fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals. This nutritional profile promotes overall well-being and supports good health during pregnancy.

Neuroprotective Effects

The dark purple color of elderberries indicates a high concentration of anthocyanins, which possess neuroprotective properties. These compounds help safeguard nerves and the brain, contributing to cognitive health and function.

Potential Side Effects of Consuming Elderberry During Pregnancy

While ripe and properly cooked elderberry consumption in moderation is generally considered safe during pregnancy, excessive intake may lead to certain side effects. Here are some risks associated with consuming elderberry while pregnant:

– Digestive Discomfort: Elderberries possess laxative properties that can potentially cause stomach ache, diarrhea, and abdominal cramping if consumed in large quantities.

– Toxicity from Plant Parts: Certain parts of the elderberry plant, including the roots, bark, leaves, and stems, contain a poisonous substance known as glycoside and cyanogenic compounds.

– Adverse Effects of Unripe Berries: Unripe elderberries contain alkaloids, hydrocyanic acid, and sambucine, which may induce vomiting, nausea, and toxicity. Unripe berries are typically green in color and have an astringent taste.

– Neurological Symptoms: Excessive consumption of elderberry may lead to symptoms such as dizziness, numbness, and in severe cases, respiratory issues.


Are elderberries safe during pregnancy?

Elderberries are generally considered safe for consumption during pregnancy when consumed in moderation. However, it’s advisable to consult with a healthcare professional before incorporating elderberries into your pregnancy diet.

Is elderberry Vitamin C and zinc safe during pregnancy?

Elderberry supplements containing vitamin C and zinc should be approached with caution during pregnancy. While these nutrients are important for immune health, it’s recommended to consult with a healthcare provider before taking any supplements, including elderberry, during pregnancy.

Who should not take elderberry?

Elderberry may not be suitable for everyone, especially those with certain medical conditions or allergies. Individuals with autoimmune diseases, immune system disorders, or allergies to plants in the elderberry family should avoid taking elderberry. Additionally, pregnant and breastfeeding individuals should consult with a healthcare professional before using elderberry supplements.

How can I boost my immune system while pregnant?

Pregnant individuals can support their immune system by maintaining a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Staying hydrated, getting enough rest, managing stress levels, and practicing good hygiene are also essential for immune health during pregnancy. It’s important to consult with a healthcare provider before taking any supplements or herbal remedies to ensure they are safe during pregnancy.

Should I Consume Elderberries Daily During Pregnancy?

Approach daily consumption of elderberry while pregnant with caution. While elderberries offer health benefits, it’s important to exercise moderation due to potential side effects and the necessity for proper preparation. Consulting a healthcare professional is advisable.

What Alternatives Can I Use Instead of Elderberry During Pregnancy?

Given the limited research on elderberry consumption during pregnancy, tart berries can be considered as an alternative. Additionally, if you enjoy tea, incorporating green tea into your pregnancy diet is a viable option.

Is it Safe to Take Elderberry While Breastfeeding?

Due to insufficient research on the safety of consuming elderberry during and after pregnancy, it’s advisable to refrain from its use. Exploring alternative options to elderberry is recommended for a safer choice during this period.

While the medicinal benefits of elderberry are undeniable, considering its historical medicinal use spanning thousands of years, the lack of comprehensive study and research raises questions about its safety. Therefore, seeking advice from your doctor or healthcare consultant is crucial before incorporating elderberries into your routine.


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