Covid19 Herbals – Elderberry

These are the comments for the various Peak Prosperity videos, blog posts and articles from 1/23/2020 to 3/9/2020, which mention the herb and plant Elderberry.

Most of the people here, and on the Internet believe that Elderberry is essential to improving your immune system and preventing infections like the flu or the new Covid19 virus.

Here are the comments and suggestions from the videos.


CarmineCFT: Question on Chris’s Elderberry Recipe Step
I just need some clarification on a STEP in Chris’s method for elderberry syrup.


1) Place the elderberries in 3 quarts of good, clean water and bring to a rapid boil. Turn stove down and let simmer covered for 45 minutes.

Is that Halfway down? Still boiling? Off?

2) Strain the liquid into a bowl and set aside. I use cider bags like these

3) Next, place the elderberries back in your pot, cover with new water (usually 1 to 1.5 quarts) and boil again for another 45 minutes

Is that basically REPEAT the same way you did the first boil BUT with less water? OR rapid boil for 45 minutes?

thanks Chris!!! Any direction from anyone who has used this would help.

Chris Martenson: Re: Questions on elderberry recipe
Thanks for asking.

I have the pot covered the whole time, but after bringing to a rapid boil I turn down to a simmer. Basically this ends up boring off ~1/2 the water.

I use the same amount of water for the second boil. Also reduces by 1/2.

With the absorption by the berries plus the boiling off, you should have ~2 quarts of liquid left at the end of it all.

Because I am on a keto diet I’ve taken to not adding honey and simply freezing the output in ice trays and then bagging the cubes. Each cube is ~ 1 dose. I’m melting them and then drinking. Not bad…not as tasty as with the honey obviously. If just stored in the fridge, will only last ~2 weeks before fermenting, which is why I am freezing.

Now that I’m reading Buhners book on herbal antivirals, which is super engaging and researched and well written by the way, I realize I’ve got a pretty clumsy recipe and will be seeking to upgrade it next year once I can get my hands back on fresh elderberry leaves and a few other items. But good enough for now and much better than nothing!

Quercus bicolor: Way to consume elderberry
I’m thinking of adding a tablespoon of dried elderberries to my nettle-calendula-ginger tea I brew up each day and carry around in a 2 quart ball jar. One tablespoon is about equivalent to Chris’ 1 ounce shot (a pound of dried berries fills a 1 quart jar just to the top and 1 pound (1 quart) of dried berries makes 2 quarts of syrup). I’ll boil everything for 5-10 minutes and then make sure to get all of the active ingredient by eating the cooked berries.

FooBarr: DIY Elderberry-Rum-Honey Syrup
FWIW, Here’s FooBarr’s Elderberry Magical Elixir recipe I’ve been using the past 5 years during the winter months and I don’t think I’ve gotten a serious flu episode since passing up getting the shot each each year.

1 quart jar filled with 1 cup of dried elderberries, 1 cup of Bulk Herb Store’s E^2 Immunity Booster tea, topped off with cheap spiced rum. Typically it sits in the cupboard for a week and I shake it vigorously a few times a day. Strain off and blend 50-50 with honey. 1 shot glass in the morning & another at night. Mmm, good stuff and it should keep in a dark place and not go bad for awhile. I’ve had it sit for 2 months with no off taste.

In interest of time being of the essence, you could warm the mixture to an extent in a pan of water and strain after a day or so. Just be careful of the temperature gradient of the glass jar, as I have cracked one in pieces before and it makes quite a mess in the kitchen

FooBarr: Question on Elderberry dosage
Any thought on how many teaspoons of dried elderberries is deem adequate intake for average person? I typically have a couple of glasses of tea during the day and each cup has a teaspoon of elderberries. I also just tired some yogurt with a teaspoon of elderberries that had been run through coffee grinder. Not bad tasting, might work in blueberry yogurt to feed you kids? Got a couple of quarts of Elderberry-rum tincturing for the week and to be further mixed with honey when it’s ready.

robshelper: Elderberries
We are at altitude and have taken to pressure cooking many things, it cuts the time and saves fuel. We tried it on the elderberry syrup and it worked pretty darned well, with no loss of fluids. Time vs temperature, wonder if there is a difference in breaking down beneficial enzymes?

Really appreciate your sharing your recipe and it’s benefits, will be planting trees in the spring and gathering wild ones in the fall. Good luck with all of this Chris! I really appreciate you getting your noodle around this thing.

suziegruber: Thermal Stability of Flavonoids/ How To Make A Tincture
Robshelper, I understand your desire to speed up processing and I would caution against it if you want to have high quality medicine. I just did a quick PubMed search on thermal stability of flavonoids, one of the class of compounds of active ingredients in Elder. It confirmed my suspicion that heat processing can lead to a total degradation of certain compounds.

In over 10 years of studying herbalism, I have been taught by all of my teachers that the synergistic effects of the compounds in plants are key for their medicinal activity. This is why the pharmaceutical industry has had limited success in creating new drugs from medicinal herbs. Consequently, in medicine making we want to preserve that synergy as much as possible so I wouldn’t recommend using a pressure cooker for making syrup.

Thermal stability and ease of storage are two big reasons why I am such a huge fan of using tinctures as my primary form of herbal medicine. I primarily make water/alcohol extracts that require no heating except in certain cases like making mushroom tinctures. Tinctures generally have a shelf life on the order of a decade when stored in a cool, dark place. No refrigeration necessary. The doses are also very low, on the order of drops rather than teaspoons, so a little goes a long way and I can travel with them.

Getting started with tincture making is very, very easy. You can take your dried elderberries, put them in a jar with a tight fitting lid and cover them with Everclear or something else that is 151 proof. Make sure the berries are fully covered by the liquid. Stick the jar in a cool, dark place and shake it once a day. After 2-3 weeks use cheesecloth to separate your liquid extract from the berries and Voila! You’ve got your tincture. And elderberry tincture tastes yummy.

Although you can tincture with vodka or brandy etc the percentage of alcohol you use will determine how much of which components in the plant you extract. For elder I was taught to use a mixture of 75% alcohol to 25% water so Everclear 151 is right there. No complicated measuring or math required.

Studying herbalism was the very first step I took towards preparedness back in 2005. I am now part of a vibrant community of herbalists that are extremely knowledgeable. It’s really, really fun and very easy to learn. In addition to medicine I make all of my own skin care products. It’s an easy thing to teach kids if you are holed up and running out of things to do. I did an herbal day one time for Sebastopol PP friends that included one family’s grandchildren. They absolutely loved it.

suziegruber: One More Tip Re: Elder Tincture
I realize I forgot to add an important tip. Sometimes when we tincture stuff, it swells in size once it has been sitting in liquid for a bit. Make sure you leave some head room in the jar for that and add more alcohol if necessary. You want to make sure the plant material is covered with liquid or it will oxidize.

Also, once you’ve strained the liquid out of the plant material, you can squeeze the plant material to get even more medicine out. A cheese press or tincture press helps with this. Make sure you label any medicine you make with the name of the plant and the date. We always think we are going to remember what things are and then we forget. Every herbalist has surprises in their cupboards.

chloecasey: Concern Regarding Elderberry Tincture
Suzie, Thank you for your great advice and directions for elderberry tincture. I did have a question/concern though. Everything I have read says that elderberries contain cyanogenic glycosides, which is a substance that releases cyanide. The answer is to cook the elderberries first which supposedly removes the issue. How is this not an issue with the tincture which is not cooked. I apologize if my question sounds naive, I know NOTHING about tinctures.

Tina S: Elderberry
Hi folks, I just rejoined PP since Chris and Adam and you all are doing such a great job tracking all the info and advice. I’ve been taking elderberry for years and here’s some thoughts. Tincturing the berries is actually “cooking” them since it breaks down the cellular structure of the berry. That’s what we want since her nutritional and medicinal value are locked up in those cells. You don’t want to eat elder raw for sure.

In herbalism often, slow extraction is best to truly extract all the important goodness there. Alcohol and water extract different things from herbs, and with many herbs, you want both the extracts from the water and the alcohol. Using a 190 proof (which some people do, though not folks in this discussion) may extract the most volatile and potentially unsafe parts of any plant. It takes longer – 6-8 weeks – for a safe extraction to get the full worth of the plant, i.e. the water soluable aspects that can only be extracted with 50/50 water alcohol.

But actually most herbalist I’m aware of recommend elderberry syrup! It tastes much better, much easier to get into kids, and equally beneficial. Check out Rosemary Gladstar’s youtube.

suziegruber: Elder & Cyanide
Chloecasey, Great question. I was taught that as long as you use ripe berries from Black Elder (Sambucus negra or candensis), it’s fine to tincture the berries. This is where it’s important to know your sources.

I was taught never to use any part of a Red Elder plant because they are toxic. I make my own Elder tincture and have for years without issue. However, I encourage everyone to do what feels safe for you as I am merely providing information.

Alternatively, you can buy elderberry tincture premade. Here’s a link to Herb Pharm’s elderberry tincture. They are a source for tinctures that I know and trust.

FooBarr: Video Link: How to Make Elderberry Syrup & Pro Tips (Tieraona Low Dog, M.D.)
Just watch a Mountain Rose Herbs How To Video:

greendoc: Alternating herbals
Layering herbs important too: don’t just really on a single plant like elderberry. While likely excellent to use, it is too much to ask of a single plant to defend against Covid-19. But combining/alternating herbs, mushrooms, supplements, nutrition, stress management, exercise, sleep…it all helps as you are defending against infection and potential serious results of infection at multiple points along the way. There is no perfect protocol/one size fits all prescription for all people, as everyone brings their own unique genetics, metabolism, health history, local environment and mindset to the party.


suziegruber: Re: Question About Elderberry Syrups
Hi Evan,
I want to respond to your question about Elderberry syrups. When choosing herbal medicines, here are a few things to think about.

1) If at all possible, make your own herbal medicines.
That is the only way you truly know what’s in them. It’s also really fun. Start with the highest quality ingredients you can possibly afford. Use organic ingredients if at all possible. Just like our food, conventionally grown herbs are sprayed with all kinds of things and our bodies have to eliminate those residues. Why add to our body’s load when we are already challenged by an illness. Unless you have no other choice, do not use herbs in dried capsule form. You just don’t know what you are getting. There was even a scandal a few years back where herb capsules made in China were found not to contain the herbs indicated on the labels.

2) Just like knowing your food farmer, in my opinion if at all possible, it’s best to also know your herb farmer. We are blessed here in the US with two amazing suppliers of organic medicinal herbs. One is local to me, Pacific Botanicals and the other, the Sonoma County Herb Exchange, is local to Adam Taggart. Both sell very high quality medicinal herbs (not cannabis). I worked for the Herb Exchange for a number of years so I can personally vouch for their extremely high quality of both fresh and dried medicinal herbs grown in organically in Sonoma County. Both companies generally sell herbs based on when they are in season, so not everything is available all of the time.

3) If you can’t get what you are looking for from the suppliers I mentioned above, my third choice is Mountain Rose Herbs. They sell dried herbs plus all kinds of other herbal goodies including supplies for making medicines.

4) If you want to try your hand at making herbal tinctures (it’s fun and easy and they generally have a long shelf life so good for preparedness), I recommend the Organic Alcohol Company as a great source of really high grade alcohol. I have been using their alcohol for tinctures for years. They are here in Ashland, OR, and the owner of the company just became a neighbor of mine. Good folks.

5) If making your own medicine feels like more than you want to take on right now, then Mountain Rose Herbs is my first source for tinctures and syrups. They have organic Elderberry syrup for $15 for 4 ounces. I also buy Herb Pharm tinctures if I can’t find the plant I need to make a tincture myself.

6) For all of you gardeners out there who want to try your hand at growing medicinal herbs, many, many of them are fun and easy to grow. My favorite book on growing herbs is Life In The Medicine, a book written by Leslie Gardner, the founder of the Sonoma County Herb Exchange. I believe you can still buy the book through the Herb Exchange. My favorite herbs to grow are Calendula, Echinacea, Comfrey, Oregon Grape, Yarrow, Chamomile, Mullein, Hawthorn, St. Johns Wort and Vitex.

I hope this helps. It is so fun and empowering to be able to grow our own medicines.

DanielleW: Elderberry syrup
Chris, Where do you get your elderberry syrup? I would love to have some on hand- just in case. Any details would be greatly appreciated.

Jeff: Elderberry Syrup Link
Here is some good elderberry syrup, tastes good to.

Chris, how does your elerberry syrup compare to elderberry supplements or Sumbucol?

Chris Martenson: Elderberry Comparisons
I have no idea. I’ve ever tried anything else. Why? Because the syrup works for me. When something works, and when it comes to flu and colds, I don’t mess around. if it works, I stick with it. But it’s time to up my game here.

So I got the book in that people here had recommended, it’s only just arrived, but I’m already deeply impressed with the section on elderberry and the depth of knowledge of viruses Mr Buhner seems to have. Oh, hey, I got more elderberries in that shipment too.

Quercus bicolor: Elderberry Granny
A coworker’s grandmother drives around the area near her rural Pennsylvania home on an ATV in early summer scouting for blooming elderberries with binoculars. She returns later in summer and harvests enough berries to allow her great-grandchildren to eat peanut butter and elderberry jam sandwiches almost every day of the year. It’s their favorite.

nancybeck: Elderberry leaves and bark
There is a Facebook post by Stephen Harrod Buhner today regarding specific herbal antivirals for the coronavirus. Elderberry leaves and bark are actually more specific than the berries. He has written a book entitled Herbal Antivirals: Natural Remedies for Emerging & Resistant Viral Infections. Also wrote Herbal Antibiotics: Natural Alternatives for Treating Drug-Resistant Bacteria along with 20+ other books. I love his work. He is a researcher and independent thinker. Check out his website and sign up for his FB posts.

That said, we make and take elderberry syrup in the winter when exposed to others with respiratory illnesses or when we feel that run-down feeling before something hits you. We don’t take it all the time, just when we feel we need it for a boost.

Doug: Elderberry wine
Hey, does elderberry wine work the same as jam? I just bottled 30 bottles a couple months ago.

mntnhousepermi: vitacost elderberry
vitacost is the one we use when we dont have enough homemade, it is a concentrate, so stronger, and is a good price. they have their own website, and also great prices on vitamens, canned organic soups, etc…

This one and that bottle is basically for one person for one illness, usually, sometimes less is used if the person gets better fast. Taking a teaspoon 4 times a day is typical, so 48 servings means 12 days if used at that rate, for example. If sicker, maybe more often. 2 bottles of this concentrate plus some vit C with get you over $25 in vitacost brand to net free shipping….

Also, I buy dry elderberries, and yes I will sometimes use Amazon, but only one of the herbal sources that I trust, so if on Amazon frontier co-op or starwest botanicals, for example, are good sources for dried elderberries, it is not too hard to make a syrup, do it ahead of time. I made some for family as part of a natural and homemade first aid supply christmas gift, and I water bath canned it so it is shelf stable. I made mine with some sugar, instead of honey, so it was infant safe. It doesnt take much.

JAG: Alternative to Elderberry…..Blackberry and Chokeberry
When the supplies of elderberry syrup dry up, a good alternative is blackberry and chokeberry (AKA Aronia). It’s the anthocyanin pigments in elderberries that are suspected to be responsible for their flu-fighting properties, specifically the cyanidin pigments. See The inhibitory performance of flavonoid cyanidin-3-sambubiocide against H274Y mutation in H1N1 influenza virus. and Anti-influenza activity of elderberry (Sambucus nigra). You can see on a chart from this study of anthocyanins (Anthocyanin content and antioxidant activity of various red fruit juices) that both elderberries and chokeberries contain the highest content of total anthocyanins.

However, if the active flu-fighting anthocyanin component is the cyanidin 3-glucoside (cyn 3-glu), elderberries contain a much larger fraction of these sub-anthocynins than most other berries. Blackberries have the next most cy-3-glu content, coming in a close second to elderberry.

Although there has been quite a bit of research into anthocyanin pigments in the last decade, how they work in the human body is still not well understood. For example, most anthocyanin pigments are never actually absorbed (in their intact form) into the blood stream. It is thought that they mainly act on the microbiome in the gut.

While chokeberries have only a small fraction of the specific cy-3-glu that elderberries contain, they do have an impressive amount of total cyanidin and anthocyanin concentrations. As anthocyanins are believed to act synergistically with one another, consuming a wide-spectrum of them is considered to be a good strategy.

You can buy dried chokeberries here. They are very bitter (hence the “choke”) but edible. Consuming the berry in it’s whole-food form, versus a syrup, is probably a better idea because you don’t really know how an extract is made. You can buy freeze-dried elderberries here. I have several gallons of chokeberry juice in my chest-fridge (under the beer). I can’t find it any more to buy, but I’ve been saving it for just such an occasion. It really tastes horrible….cheers. And put frozen blackberries on your shopping list at the grocery store too. Hope this info helps and thank you Dr. M for your great work on this.

Mr. Fri: Personal Application of Information
My question is, what do we do once we catch it? I realize that 80% of the cases are mild, but catching it a second time could be fatal. If we’re in the 80%, we will treat it as the flu. But, is there an advantage of boosting our immune systems? It seems that having a strong immune system is good when fighting it the first time, but a suppressed immune system is an advantage during the second time to avoid the Cytokine storm. We have Elderberry syrup and Yin Chiao (Chinese honeysuckle) to help our immune systems but not sure how/when to use them. I’m thinking to start with the Yin Chiao when we first see symptoms and then use the Elderberry syrup when it gets worse, perhaps 5-7 days after symptoms. If we get the virus a second time, we should probably leave our poor immune systems alone so we don’t start a cytokine storm. Is this a correct application of the information Chris has given us?

Thrivalista: Elderberry early, but then not at all
Elderberry can prevent the virus from taking hold in the first place (interferes with it docking with the ACE2 receptor), but can also incite those very cytokine storms we want to avoid. Our plan here is to take it at the faintest whisper of something brewing (it is, after all, still cold & flu season), then discontinue it if what develops is a fever with or without a dry cough, and switch to immune-modulating herbs/treatments to prevent the cytokine storms.

Ejh237: Elderberry Syrup and Asthma
I thought I would share something POSITIVE that has come out of the last 3 1/2 weeks. (has it really only been 3 1/2 weeks? wow!) We have been drinking Chris’ Elderberry syrup since 1/28, and Cindy told me a few days ago that her Asthma symptoms and med requirements have been down for the last 2 weeks! That good news, along with our huge order of meds from India have us feeling better about the meds aspect. And, her breathing is better! We’ve ordered another few lbs of the Elderberries Chris liked to, and will be picking up an Elderberry bush from the tree farm here shortly.

Jim H: Elderberry protocol
Sambucol or equivalent Black Elderberry syrup, 15 ml once per day in hot water. Increase to 4X per day if sick. Available at Walmart.

ivah: Preppers
I feel very lucky for I had made conserves of elderflower sirup last summer, as the plant grows wild on the boards of forests over here and I used to drink elderflower lemonade when I was little.

rampedup: Elderberry may cause cytokine storm in Covid-19
I read an article a couple weeks ago identifying the 2 particular cytokines that are responsible for creating the inflammation, pneumonia, and death. They are IL-R2 and IL-6. If you can repress these two, you have a much better chance of avoiding serious complications from Covid-19. I’ve found studies on PubMed regarding Vitamin C (high dose) and it’s ability to reduce both IL-R2 and IL-6. Curcumin (found in Turmeric) also has the ability to reduce IL-6. I’m not saying you should buy these things but that they seem promising in the fight against Covid-19. I know several people swear by Elderberry syrup. I would NOT use that if I suspected I had Covid-19. It significantly increases IL-6.

Nairobi: Forget Elderberry. It may be hazardous.
Just as I have been saying. Elderberry is off limits in this specific situation. It can magnify your condition and actually pose a health risk because it stands to make things worse. But other posters keep arguing. It’s your life. Do as you please.

thatchmo: Protocol shift
So I’ll repeat a question I posted previously elsewhere: At what point in your dealing with the virus do you shift from prevention- like taking elderberry syrup, to cytokine storm avoidance- delete elderberry, increase NAC, turmeric, and Vit C? Or maybe just skip the ‘berries and load up on the others?

Jim H: Elderberry discussion
I think there are nuances here and that this question of stimulating cytokines, vs. a, “cytokine storm” needs further discussion. I would ask Chris , Sandpuppy, and others to please chime in – especially Chris since I believe mentioned his plan for use of Elderberry just yesterday.

Cytokines play a role in the first stages of immune response. There is a difference between cytokines doing their job, and a, “cytokine storm”, which is something that happens in the later stages of infection, as the virus deepens it’s hold.

Watch this MedCram video starting at 2:00 and read the words on the screen – “IL-12 is a cytokine”;

I very much agree with this MD.. you want your immune system to win the initial war, If your immune system loses the war, then you are already in trouble, and you are going to get some version of full blown corona virus infection, including lungs. At this stage, it is probably prudent to not be taking Elderberry, unlike in the case of standard flu.

Until someone makes more than an overly simplistic argument against it, I will continue to use Elderberry in a prophylactic capacity in the hope that if and when I get exposed my immune system makes quick work of corralling the virus.

ao: Jim, just a heads up
I wouldn’t take elderberry or echinacea or related herbal substances whose purpose is to prevent infection on a prophylactic basis. They seem to work best when you take them at the very first signs of any infection. Taking them long term seems to dull the body’s response. I have no research nor a scientific explanation to back this up but I have noted it from decades of experience. The body-mind seems to habituate to any repeated stimulus of the same type and dosage, whether it’s exercise, herbals, or whatever.

Jim H: More on Elderberry
You make a very good point AO, and yet, I still don’t think i want to wait until I feel sick in this case. The intention of my effort is to have the best chance of fighting off the virus if I am exposed such that I am one of the lucky, asymptomatic or nearly so folks. I think the middle road here is to wait until local infections start to bloom, then step up the immune boosting regime. I would be interested in your take on the cytokine issue as well AO, Thank you, Jim

ao: Jim, I’m not knowledgeable on the cytokine issue
But I have used elderberry for many years and have experience with family, friends, and patients with no ill effects of consequence. If the individual is reasonably healthy and their health is stable (meaning both physically and psychologically), I haven’t seen a problem. That being said, I don’t care what the treatment is, somewhere out there is someone who will have an adverse response to it. I dealt primarily with the biomechanical systems of the body but the body is an integrated whole and the biomechanical systems do not function independent of the biochemical systems. And neither of those systems function independent of the mind. The mind/spirit trumps all. That’s why people can have amazing abilities when under hypnotic influence that they would not normally have.

What I observed over the years is that the less coherent, harmonious, and stable the mind, the less predictable the body’s responses seem to be. Witness Desogames with his symptoms changing left and right and up and down and then witness his psychology. Nuff said. The chiropractors refer to certain individuals who are “switched”. That is, while most people will have X+ response to an input or stimulus, there is someone out there who has an X- response. The problem is, they’re often not readily identifiable in an objective and reproducible manner until they have the adverse reaction.

That being said, elderberry does have insulin like actions and diuretic actions so if one has medical problems where these could be a problem, caution is in order. Also, I think there was someone here who was recommending using other parts of the plant such as bark and leaves. That, in my book, is definitely NOT recommended due to potential cyanide toxicity.

Physiology and responses can be so individual. Think of a Lance Armstrong heart versus an average person’s heart. Training is important but the power and influence of genetics is undeniable. Liver detoxification ability, for example, can vary on the order of 500%, a highly significant factor in determining an individual’s health.

Personally, I will take my chances with the elderberry. I probably wouldn’t recommend it to someone like Desogames, however. I remember treating a young woman with Asperberger’s syndrome and she had very bizarre reactions to things that would be completely innocuous to most people. I know her mother well and have followed the various treatments the young woman has received over the years with various health care practitioners and treating her has always been, shall we say, a challenge.

I can’t say for certain but my guess would be that the individuals with no major health issues, good nutrition, stable psychology, good stress tolerance, etc. should, for the most part, do fine. Someone who has multiple health issues, whose personality is erratic, who might have hypochondriac tendencies, who is prone to constant worry and anxiety, etc. could be a whole different game.

greendoc: Rotating anti-virals for overcoming habituation
I agree, the time to start immune building is now, pre-infection. No need to deplete your elderberry supply before you get sick by taking it daily. Herbs can work well when combined and rotated in their dosing. Some herbs only meant for acute situations. Echinacea is meant for short term use: 7-10 days usually.

I have been alternating elderberry, polygonum, andrographis, kudzu and berberine over the last few weeks (in dry and tinctured form), but I am trained ND with background in western botanical medicine. No specific protocol really. No one has a one size fits all treatment plan for this. I suggest people look at Stephens Buhners antiviral book and look at some of the protocols he has for acute infection and titrate from their. For prevention 2-3 times a day seems appropriate, people who weigh more should be taking more than someone half their size, etc.

You really need to consult with a knowledgeable alternative practitioner like a LAc, ND, DC, herbalist, functional MD for individualized recommendations. These people spend years and years learning the art and science of herbalism, dispensing advice in a forum like this not really appropriate.

Meanwhile you can mix it up with vitamins, minerals, sleep, stress management, meditation, exercise, essential oils, medicinal mushrooms, seaweeds, sauna, massage, avoiding the standard american diet of burgers and fries. No silver bullet, just good foundational healthy practices.

TamHob: elderberry
elderberry has a short half life in the body – why you have to take it every few hours to be effective as a prophylaxis eg Also, you do habituate apparently. So, I am using it as a prophylaxis on days we need to go out in public and will stop if I develop symptoms and switch to other herbs. It seems to normally take about a week to progress to pneumonia after first symptoms which implies that the cytokine storm takes at least a few days to kick in so I figure that the elderberry will be well out of my system by then.

Craig1961: Elderberry
If this virus can be asymptomatic for days or weeks wouldn’t the viral load build up to the point that taking elderberry (assuming it is effective at all) when symptoms start would be too late?

nordicjack: Craig that would be my logic too
I would worry less about the cytokine part. the method of action is really in the stopping of virus replication – with the long incubation period, what is really happening is it too late – has replication happened by the time you are symptomatic – for elderberry to have any effect.?

dtrammel: Halflife of Elderberry In Bloodstream
Can someone translate this for me? How long does elderberry last in your system from when you take it?

“Pharmacokinetic variables of several dietary anthocyanins (potent natural antioxidants) following consumption of elderberry (Sambucus nigra L.) extract were evaluated in urine and plasma of six healthy volunteers. They were given a single oral dose of either 30 ml (278 mg total anthocyanins) or 200 ml (1852 mg total anthocyanins) of a commercially available elderberry extract. Within 7 h, the fraction of orally administered total anthocyanins (calculated as the sum of cyanidin-3-sambubioside and cyanidin-3-glucoside) excreted unchanged was 0.39% and 0.27% following ingestion of 30 and 200 ml, respectively. The elimination half-life of total anthocyanins was slightly lower following the consumption of 278 mg (1.85 h) than that after the consumption of 1852 mg (2.57 h). The renal clearance (median) of total anthocyanins was 196 and 169 ml/min, respectively. The peak and average systemic exposure to the major elderberry anthocyanidin glycosides in plasma as well as their renal excretion exhibited approximate dose-proportional characteristics within the administered range. The low dose-normalized area under the concentration-time curve (AUC) and the fraction of orally administered anthocyanins recovered unchanged in urine indicate a low bioavailability of these compounds.

Jim H: Elderberry – that’s interesting DT…
It looks like the body clears elderberry pretty quickly, half-life within two hours or so. Still, we know from a real randomized, placebo-controlled study that 15ml of syrup, 4X daily, is fantastically effective at quickly reducing flu symptoms.

For now I am using a few smaller (maybe 5 ml) doses a day, in tea. It’s getting hard to find the syrup now at the Walmart near me.. always sold out.

JAG: Halflife of Elderberry In Bloodstream
I don’t have time at the moment to provide sources, but the benefits of anthocyanins come from their interaction with the microbiome in the gut (gut bacteria). It doesn’t really matter if they are absorbed into the bloodstream or how long they last there. Their positive effect on the immune system is mediated through the gut bacteria. Hope this helps.

Craig1961: cytokine storm
If, and I don’t think we know, this virus tends to kill by causing a cytokine storm is ramping up the immune system a good thing? Elderberry is supposed to boost the immune system hence increase cytokines. Any ideas on this?

stevekootstra: Freezing Elderberry Syrup
Thanks Chris for the great article, and especially for the Elderberry Syrup recipe. I have a suggestion for storing it in the freezer. Pour it into ice cube trays, freeze the trays, empty the cubes into freezer grade ZipLoc bags, and return them to the freezer. Repeat until done. It may take several days to complete. But the nice part is, depending on your ice cube tray size, you have your one ounce shots ready to thaw. My trays are a skosh under one ounce per cube.

VeganDB12: cytokines
I have used elderberry (OTC) for a few years for colds and find it is so helpful in lessening symptoms I keep it on hand. My somewhat quick review of this topic today on pubmed and google scholar tells me elderberry is pro and anti inflammatory and cytokines are incredibly complex and of many varieties. The research on elderberry doesn’t seem to address this issue specifically but I am keeping elderberry on hand and will take it for early symptoms. Heaven forbid with pneumonia I personally will withhold my immune stimulants (multiple medicinal mushrooms and other berry extracts). Until them I am continuing them and would take elderberry. I think we will all do what we feel is best and the outcomes will tell us the final story. There certainly seems to be a lot of positive research on this and no doubt Chris has explored it very thoroughly and scientifically.

dryam2000: Elderberry
I’m no expert on Elderberry but seems like I’ve read its active ingredients somehow inhibits virus from entering cells in the respirated tract. It works by minimizing getting infected in the first place. So, I highly doubt Elderberry somehow promotes a pro-inflammatory state. But, I really don’t know so don’t take my word for it.

Chris.45: Re: Elderberry Syrup, Cytokines & COVID19

Carl: Elderberry Tonic vs. Fire Cider
Suzie (or anyone else who may have knowledge), I am most familiar with elderberry tonic and use it at the first sign of illness. I have only recently become aware of fire cider although I have learned that some neighbors use it religiously. Does one conflict with the other? Might it make sense to take some elderberry tonic in the morning and bit of fire cider in the evening. Is there another regimen that would make more sense (e.g., a week of each)?

suziegruber: Re: Fire Cider and Elderberry
Hi Carl, I know people use fire cider at the onset of feeling sick, i.e. sore throat etc. I have heard it work really well for that although I have not personally tried it. After reading Buhner’s information about the specifics of corona viruses, I personally wouldn’t use fire cider or elderberry alone to address the virus. If you are interested in fire cider as an immune tonic, once a day is likely plenty. I do not think of elder as an immune tonic. Rhodiola and Astragalus fall more in that category. I know I sound like a broken record but I really encourage everyone interested in using herbal medicine for viruses to get a copy of Herbal Antivirals because Buhner talks a lot about the difference between immune system strengthening and fighting a particular virus.


Doug: Elderberries
Make your own. We grew elderberries in our own garden. In our biozone elderberries grow vigorously and are abundant with little or no care. The only problem is that they risk becoming weed shrubs.

thc0655: Are elderberries considered “invasive?”
We’re planning to plant them this summer. Will they take over? Is there any way to keep them under control?

Doug: Mow them
I mowed them when I saw new shoots emerging. An herbicide would probably work too, but I avoid them. In a technical sense, I don’t believe they are “invasive” since I think they are a native species. They are easy to find around the edges of woods, but the berries are smaller and less abundant in the wild shrubs.

Chris Martenson: Re: elderberries
It’s a perennial bush. Or shrub. Pretty big at maturity…10′ tall and maybe 8-10 feet wide. So somewhere where they won’t block other things. Need/love ‘wet feet.’ Stream banks are good. Wet spots in the lower lawn are ideal. No, they don’t spread much. I’d be thrilled if they did. I’ve propagated all mine from cuttings. I plan to be “Johnny Elderberry” at my new home planting them up and down the stream nearby. Birds love the berries. Also a native species, so not invasive in the technical sense.

ezlxq1949: Plant elderberries yesterday
In my part of the world elderberries (Sambucus nigra) are “relatively easy” to grow in cooler parts of the country. There’s at least 7 varieties, all requiring moist, humus-rich soil. They come into full production about 3 years after planting. They’re not common here, though. I shall see what indigenous plants may be available, although they’re not common either.

pinecarr: Re: elderberries
The birds love my elderberries so much I never get them; they strip the bushes clean before the berries are even ripe!

BillL: Elderberries…
They grow wild in much of the US. They don’t ripen until late summer in most of those places but are very prolific growers. They are very easy to identify. They are darker purple in the eastern US and in the west, more of a med. blue color. A quick web check will reveal whether you have them or not.

suziegruber: wildcrafting elderberries – choose carefully!
Yes, elderberries can be found growing wild in a lot of places. However, proceed with caution. There are many varieties of elder plants so unless you are skilled at knowing which elder you have found, stick to elderberries purchased from reliable sources. Two reasons: not all elder plants are medicinal and the ornamentals will do no good as medicine. Second, some are poisonous! I was taught to always look for black elder (Sambucus nigra). Red is dead is what I was taught.

This is also important if you are planting elder bushes. Make sure you are getting a medicinal variety. Crimson Sage Nursery in Orleans, CA is a great source of all kinds of medicinal plants and they ship! I have both the medicinal and an ornamental variety in my garden. Buhner’s book Herbal Antivirals has a lot to say about elder varieities.

bbtruth: Elderberries
I just ordered up a few more to plant to go with the native elderberries I already have growing here at home. I have the red ones that are supposed to make you a little sick when consumed raw. Figured I should add some of the black/purple elderberries into the mix. There may be a huge demand for them soon/already.

Dutch Boomer: Elderberries
I buy at in the netherlands. Dried purple/black for euro 3,90 / 200 gram. Enough to make 1,5 ltr (50 days at 30 ml a day).

Doug: elderberries
As I posted before, we planted domestic elderberries that grew and produced vigorously, and spread by root quickly. The berries are larger than wild varieties. That may have been the micro habitat where we were at the time. We have since moved and I don’t know how well they will do here. We have lots of jam, wine and frozen berries, but no syrup. Does anyone have a good recipe for syrup?

bbtruth: I hope the black varieties I plant will spread as well as the native varieties seem to. I have a path in the woods with a stretch of elderberries on one side that goes maybe a hundred feet or so… absolutely beautiful in bloom and when covered in fruit. The critters love ’em.

2 thoughts on “Covid19 Herbals – Elderberry

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