Elderberry & COVID-19 Concern

Alexis J. Moon, RDN, LD

In general, I believe in the power of Elderberries & More (consisting of elderberries, rosehips, hibiscus, cloves, and cinnamon) for boosting your immune system. I believe it should be taken IN ADDITION to a healthy diet and lifestyle. It is not the end-all, be-all of health, and it is NOT THE ONLY good source of antioxidants, anti-inflammatory components, and vitamins/minerals. However, I do believe that it is a great, wholesome source that has a VERY high concentration of immune system-boosting components that flood your body at once, which may be helpful in preventing/treating some ailments. Bottom line, you must use YOUR own discretion based on your individualized nutritional needs when deciding to take ANY supplement, including Back to the BASICS 101’s Elderberries & More. That is ALWAYS the main concern. Only you can answer what is best for you. With the latest coronavirus pandemic, folks are swarming towards Elderberries & More syrup mix in order to help boost their immune systems during this time. From the beginning, we have advertised Elderberries & More syrup mix to be a method of boosting the immune system as a preventative for sickness. Based on personal experience and the experiences of many of our customers, we also share how we believe that Elderberries & More may not only serve as a preventative for colds and flus but may also help alleviate symptoms and decrease duration of such ailments (Tiralongo & Wee & Lea, 2016). With constant concerns about this latest pandemic, it is important to have updated, reliable information on elderberry’s role in the immune response to this specific virus. If you’re not familiar, there have been growing concerns that elderberry exacerbates sickness (not just COVID-19 but also others) by increasing the inflammatory response. What we first need to understand is that not all inflammation is bad. Our immune systems respond to disruptions in our body by using cytokines – messengers that work to create order. These cytokines decide what is needed according to the body’s current condition – at times the body must issue an inflammatory response to put things back in order. There has been research stating that elderberry may increase the HEALTHY inflammatory immune response (Barak & Halperin & Kalickman, 2001), and it also acts an anti-inflammatory agent (Barak & Birkenfeld & Halperin & Kalicklman, 2002). Secondly, we must remember that this is a new virus – this exact strain is new to the whole world. Research is limited. Thirdly, it is important to remember your source of information. Do you use reliable sources? Are the research studies’ methods credible? How many studies have been done on your topic of interest? Do multiple studies on the subject lead to the same conclusive evidence? These are all important questions to consider when searching for reliable information.

Next, there has been specific talk about elderberries contributing to/exacerbating a “cytokine storm” (an acute, severe immune reaction where lots of cytokines are released) (National Cancer Institute, n.d.). A cytokine storm is particularly important in the discussion of COVID-19 because there is some evidence suggesting that later stages of serious COVID-19 involves these storms. However, we must understand that when one is experiencing a cytokine storm, they are in critical condition and most likely hospitalized in ICU. At this point, one is not at home taking elderberry syrup. So, in the case of acute illness and serious infection and inflammation, elderberry is most likely not the safest bet. During those times, it might be best to consider other natural sources that would specifically reduce inflammatory cytokines and increase anti-inflammatory cytokines (Groves, 2020). What we do know: Based on our personal experience at Back to the BASICS 101 and other research, for early stages of some flus and colds, elderberry has been shown to help alleviate symptoms and decrease the duration of illness in some individuals (Tiralongo & Wee & Lea, 2016). COVID-19 is new to us and research is limited. However, based on the research we do have, it is probably safest to refrain from using elderberry (and other sources that increase the pro-inflammatory response) IF and WHEN someone is infected with COVID-19 and has begun showing symptoms (Alschuler, 2020). Until then, to keep your body fighting strong and to treat other flus and colds (especially if taken early on in a disease process) (Noveille, 2020), we believe Elderberries & More can serve as a part of your immune system-boosting protocol. Bottom line is always to use your own discretion.


Alschuler, L. (2020, March 18). Integrative Considerations during the COVID-19 pandemic. In The University of Arizona: Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine. Retrieved from g+the+COVID+3.18.20.pdf

Barak, V., Birkenfeld, S., Halperin, T., & Kalickman, I. (2002, November). The effect of herbal remedies on the production of human inflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokines. The Israel Medical Association, 4(11), 919-922.

Barak, V., Halperin, T., & Kalickman, I. (2001, June). The effect of Sambucol, a black elderberry-based, natural product, on the production of human cytokines: I. Inflammatory cytokines. European Cytokine Network, 12(2), 290-296.

Groves, M. N. (2020, March 18). Elder & Immune Health. In Wintergreen Botanicals. Retrieved from

NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms: cytokine storm. (n.d.). In National Cancer Institute. Retrieved from terms/def/797584

Noveille, A. (2020, February 21). Is Elderberry Safe? Elderberry and the Immune System. In indieherbalist. Retrieved from and-the-immune-system/?fbclid=IwAR1eFkIsaToHEnoDP8NXhRcGz9- 5dbSS9DRA_9DTLRbY9ElxhsqgFf_sCXs

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. Nutrients, 8(4), 182.