Elderberry as a medicinal plant did not just become popular in recent years. But, it has been used for centuries for skincare and medicinal purposes. It has a lot of health benefits that have been attributed to the many phytochemicals and nutritional content. Some of our friends with diabetes are interested in reap elderberry benefits, if it is safe to do so. This article confirms if Can Diabetics Take Elderberry Syrup.

Elderberries contain flavonoids such as anthocyanins, water-soluble plant pigments, which are also found in most dark-colored fruits and vegetables such as;

  • Blueberry,
  • Mulberry,
  • Cherry,
  • Red cabbage,
  • Blackcurrant,
  • Chokeberry, and
  • Microgreen.

Anthocyanins are antioxidants with antioxidative and anti-inflammatory properties. They play a great role in the prevention and treatment of many chronic diseases.

(Possibly, diabetes too, do you think?)

Oxidative stress, chronic inflammation, and infection are the leading cause of the development of chronic diseases such as cancer, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

Studies have shown that consuming food rich in antioxidants can help to prevent chronic diseases by reducing oxidative stress.

Type 2 diabetes is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, and elderberries are heart-healthy. Elderberries can be of great help as they can help to reduce cholesterol and triglyceride levels. It can also help in weight loss and lower blood pressure. This can, in return, help to reduce the risk of heart disease too.

Elderberries can also stimulate the secretion of insulin and improve good glucose levels. However, the relationship between eating Elderberry or drinking elderberry syrup, and diabetes is not that simple. There is a lot to consider before deciding to take Elderberry to prevent or reverse diabetes.

In this article, you will learn about Elderberry, its many health benefits, especially for people with diabetes.

You will also learn how to make your healthy elderberry syrup at home.

Let’s start rolling by understanding more about Elderberry – what is it?

What is Elderberry?

They are flowering plants from the tree variety known as the Sambucus tree which, belongs to the Adoxaceae family.

These fruit-bearing shrubs are found in many parts of the world. They grow in a subtropical and temperate climate. It is native to North America, Europe, Asia, and North Africa.

This tree has clusters of white flowers with small bunches of black, blue, dark purple, or red berries, depending on the species. They usually bloom between May to July and, the berries ripen from August to late September.

There are different species of elderberries but, the dark purple or the blackberries are also known as black elder. They are the most commonly used for medicinal and culinary purposes.

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The flowers and berries of these plants are edible but, they have to be cooked before consumption. Elderberry fruits can be cooked and used in the making:

  • jam,
  • jellies,
  • wine,
  • juice,
  • syrup,
  • as a pie filling, and
  • in muffins.

Its flowers can be steeped in hot water and taken as a tea. It is also commercially available in capsules and lozenges.

This plant has become popular in the medical field because,

  • Its antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory properties.
  • They are rich in flavonoids that protect cells from infections.
  • Elderberries are rich in vitamins like vitamin A, B, C, and amino acids.
  • They are also rich in carbohydrates, protein, fatty acids, and minerals such as calcium, iron, and potassium.

All these nutrients can help boost your immune system, prevent diseases and keep you healthy.

Elderberry Nutritional Content

Raw nutritional fact of 1 cup of Elderberry (145g) is noted below in the table.



% DV*


106 (444 Kj)


Total Carbohydrate

26.7 g


Dietary fiber

10.2 g





Total fat

0.7 g


Omega-3 fatty acids

123 mg


Omega-6 fatty acids

235 mg


Vitamin A

870 IU


Vitamin B6

0.3 mg


Vitamin C

52.2 mg



0.1 mg



0.1 mg



0.7 mg



8.7 mcg


Pantothenic Acid

0.2 mg



55.1 mg



7.3 mg



2.3 mg



406 mg



56.6 mg



8.7 mg



0.2 mg



0.9 mg



0.1 mg





* The DV % is the Daily Value percentage. It is attributed to how much a nutrient in a serving of elderberry contributes to a daily diet. Generally, a healthy individual will need 2,000 calories a day. Your individual daily values may be higher or lower depending on your personal energy needs.

What is Elderberry Syrup?

Elderberry syrup is also known as elderberry elixir or made basically from a mixture of concentrated elderberry juice and sweetener such as cane sugar, honey, glucose syrup, or fructose and boiled until it thickens. Then Glycerin or lemon juice and any other preservatives may be added it.

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Elderberry Syrup Nutritional Content

Nutritional fact of elderberry syrup

Serving size: 100ml



Daily value


212.7 kcal


Total carb

50 g



0 g



47.5 g



5 g



0.5 g


Saturated fat

0.5 g


Uses Of Elderberries

Just as elderberries is available in different forms – syrups, teas, pills, gummies, lozenges, and even cream, it uses are also many.

Elderberries are used in:

  • Wine and brandy
  • Teas
  • Jams
  • Juice
  • Food coloring
  • Body lotions

Possible Health Benefits Of Elderberry

Elderberry contains a lot of nutrients that are of great health benefit. It is high in vitamin C, which helps balance the function of the immune system, maintain a healthy cardiovascular system, and smooth and clear skin.

Elderberries are packed with vitamin A, a micronutrient that helps to manage the immune response. It is also rich in flavonoids such as anthocyanins which have anti-inflammatory properties.

Some of the potential health benefits of Elderberry are:

  • May reduce the symptoms of cold and how long it lasts.
  • Reduce stress, fight inflammation and bacterial infection
  • Boost the immune system
  • Reduce the appearance of wrinkles and age spots
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Lowers blood cholesterol
  • Promote weight loss
  • Promote gut health
  • Relief from hay fever
  • Help relieves allergies
  • Reduce nerve pain
  • Strengthens the bones and promotes the development of new bones
  • It May help to promote heart health and lower the risk of diabetes
  • Ease gingivitis and toothache
  • Aid in treating HIV/AIDS
  • Relieve joint and muscle pain
  • Treatment of headache and fever
  • Relieve constipation
  • Promote bowel function
  • Protect against colorectal cancer

What Does Research Say?

There are a lot of research to prove the health benefits of elderberries, and they include the following.

  • Elderberry in flu treatment

Elderberry may help to fight against and reduce the symptoms of cold and flu. Because of its antiviral properties, elderberry syrup and extracts have been shown to help reduce the symptoms of flu and the length of time the flu lasts.

A study carried out on 60 patients during the flu season shows that the flu symptoms reduce 4 days earlier in a subject taking 15ml elderberry syrup daily.

  • Elderberry for immune system and inflammation

Elderberry may help to support a healthy immune system and relieve inflammation.

A 2001 research study reveals that Sambucol, a black elderberry-based syrup and natural product, can increase the production of inflammatory cytokines.

The research reveals that Sambucol could be beneficial to immune system activation. And in the inflammatory process in both healthy individuals and patients with various diseases.

Also, the research indicates that Sambucol could have an immunoprotective or immunostimulatory effect when administered in conjunction with chemotherapeutic or other treatments to cancer or AIDS patients.

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  • Elderberry for cardiovascular health

Elderberry is heart-healthy. It has antihypertensive properties and can lower cholesterol levels. These may help to reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke, and other heart-related issues. The anthocyanins in Elderberry can lower arterial plaque (atherosclerosis), which is the accumulation of plaque in your blood vessels. These can result in hardened arteries and restrict your circulation.

A 2015 and a 2018 study on mice found that long-term supplementation with Elderberry, and the anthocyanins in elderberries can lower harmful cholesterol levels and prevent atherosclerosis progression.

Also, another study published in a journal of pharmaceutical biology suggests that Elderberry can also benefit your heart by improving arterial pressure and also lowering blood pressure.

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  • Elderberry may help to improve digestion and alleviate constipation

If you suffer from digestive problems such as constipation, taking elderberry extracts can help to improve the frequency and consistency of your stool.

In addition to being a rich source of the above-mentioned vitamins and minerals, elderberries also contain an impressive amount of fiber approximately, 10 g. Consuming elderberries will help you to meet the daily recommended 30 grams of fiber.

Fiber can help improve digestion, lower your risk for colon cancer, improve blood pressure and cholesterol while alleviating constipation.

  • Elderberry has anticancer properties

Studies have shown that elderberry extracts have the potential to treat cancer.

A study published in the Journal
of Medicinal Food revealed that antioxidants and anthocyanins in elderberry help kill off cancer cells. Elderberry extract helps to inhibit certain enzymes such as ornithine decarboxylase, an enzyme marker that is linked to tumor growth.

Studies have also shown that Elderberry is the richest source of anthocyanins. Researchers state that consuming foods rich in anthocyanins can help lower your risk of cancer.

According to another research study, anthocyanins have been shown to exhibit anti-carcinogenic activity against multiple cancer cell types in vitro and tumor types in vivo.

Is Elderberry Good for Diabetes?

Elderberries are low in carbs, low in calories, low in glycemic index, but rich in vitamins and fiber. They are antidiabetic plants as they can help to manage the symptoms of diabetes.

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Elderberries can stimulate insulin secretion and improve blood glucose levels.

A 2000 study revealed the presence of insulin-releasing and insulin-like activity in elderberries. The study also reveals that elderberry extract can increase glucose transport, glucose oxidation, and glycogenesis significantly without any added insulin.

In another study published in the Journal Molecules, it reveals that extract from elderberry flowers can inhibit the enzyme α-glucosidase, which can help to control blood glucose spikes after eating.

Studies have also shown that elderberries also have antihypertensive properties, can improve cholesterol levels, and prevent atherosclerosis progression.

Also, a 2012 study carried out on diabetic male rats and published in the Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, concludes that elderberries may lower body mass and improve bone density in diabetic patients.

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Can Diabetics Take Elderberry Syrup?

Naturally, elderberries are tart in flavor.

Most commercially produced Elderberry syrup contains lots of added sugar or glucose syrup that can crash your diet and throw your blood sugar level off balance. So, if you have diabetes, go for a home-made elderberry syrup that contains little or no added sugar, and you know what was added into it.

If you are going for the commercially produce elderberry syrup, look for brands with low sugar content, do not take more than the recommended dose, and consume it as part of a balanced diet.

When Should You Not Take Elderberry or Elderberry Syrup?

If you are an expectant or breastfeeding mother, you shouldn’t take elderberry or elderberry syrup. There are no research on it possible side effect on breastfeeding and expectant mothers.

Consult your doctor before taking elderberries or elderberry extract if you are;

  1. A patient suffering from any autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, celiac, and lupus, because elderberries will stimulate your immune system and interfere with your medication.
  2. On diuretics for hypertension, congestive heart failure, and kidney issues.

Elderberry can act as a diuretic, so patients taking Elderberry extract while on diuretics run the risk of dehydration.

3. With kidney issues since it acts as a diuretics

4. With diabetes and on prescription drugs to lower blood sugar levels.

5. A cancer patient undergoing chemotherapy.

6. An asthma patient

Does Elderberry Interact With Medications?

Elderberry can trigger side effects and interfere with some supplements and medications.

  • Elderberry can interact with theophylline, a drug taken for asthma and other respiratory conditions, not to work well by reducing the levels of theophylline.
  • Since Elderberry can stimulate the immune system, it may interfere with medications that suppress the immune system (immunosuppressant) like Ortholone OKT3, Orasone, corticosteroids, mycophenolate and other drugs for treating autoimmune diseases.
  • Elderberry can interact with and alter certain chemotherapy drugs.

Can You Take Elderberry With Metformin?

Elderberry has blood sugar-lowering effects so, taking Elderberry alongside metformin or any other blood sugar-lowering medication such as insulin may increase the risk of developing hypoglycemia. So, it is advised that if you have diabetes and are on blood sugar lowering medication, consult your doctor before taking Elderberry.

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Risks and Possible Side Effects of Elderberry Misuse

Elderberries are generally safe for consumption only when cooked. Aside from the flower and the berries, consuming other parts of the elder tree, such as the roots, bark, branches, twigs, leaves, seeds with unripe and uncooked fruits, can be toxic as they contain a type of cyanide called glycoside.

The toxins can cause cyanide poisoning resulting in nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting.

  • People who are allergic to Elderberry may have rashes or difficulty breathing after consuming it.

Common side effects of Elderberry include:

Other Elderberry side effects are:

  • Diuretic effects – it also acts as a diuretic

It can increase the risk of dehydration, especially when taken with diuretics. So people taking elderberry supplements should take more fluids to prevent dehydration.

  • Laxative effects

Elderberries may have laxative effects, it should not be taken alongside laxative products.

  • Blood sugar lowering effect

How to Make Elderberry Syrup At Home? Elderberry Syrup Recipe

There are different methods and recipes for making elderberry syrup. This syrup is basically prepared by crushing and cooking the berries. Then, strain the juice into a pot and cooking it until it thickens. Finally, you can add a sweetener such as sugar, glucose syrup, or honey to complete the process.


  • 1 cup fresh black elderberries (or ½ cup dried elderberries)
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons fresh ginger root (or 1 tsp. ground ginger)
  • 1 cup raw honey


  • With the exception of the honey, put all the other ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil over low-medium heat.
  • Reduce the heat and simmer for about 45 minutes to one hour.
  • Stir occasionally, and while stirring, crush the elderberries using the back of your spoon.
  • When the liquid thickens, remove the pot from the stove.
  • Allow it to cool down for a few minutes, and using a sieve, strain the mixture.
  • Add the honey into the warm mixture is warm, and stir until it dissolves. Pour the syrup into a sterilized sealed glass jar or bottle.

The syrup can be kept in the fridge for several weeks.

Take 1 tablespoon four times a day, or half the amount for children.

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Elderberry has been shown to help boost the immune system, reduce oxidative stress and reduce chronic inflammation which, lowers the risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure and improves the overall quality of the skin.

The nutrient profile of Elderberry has an impressive amount of fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants that will only improve your overall health and well-being.

Elderberry is heart-healthy.

Elderberry is mostly available commercially as elderberry syrup. It can promote weight loss, lower bad cholesterol, reduce blood pressure. It can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease which, is a risk factor for diabetes.

For people with diabetes and those trying to manage their blood sugar level, it can stimulate insulin secretion and help to lower blood sugar. This does not mean you should replace the medication prescribed to you with Elderberry or home-made elderberry syrup.

Make sure to consult your doctor before taking Elderberry or its syrup, especially if you are under any medication.