Elderberry syrup is one of the most widely accepted and relied upon natural remedies to ease the symptoms of & promote recovery from colds & flus. But what exactly is the science behind these little black berries? If you're like me and prefer to see & share evidence based research regarding all things health, keep reading!
Known by it's scientific name as Sambucus, known by most natural minded moms as elderberry- this plant has been dated back to 2000 BC, where elder seeds were found in neolithic Switzerland  Later in Greco-Rome, elder wood was used to make flutes & other musical instruments.
Elder whistles made as a part of a forest school for children.
Since many varieties of elderberry grow here in America, native Americans used them for a variety of purposes. The Algonquian, Cherokee & Carrier tribes used elderberry bark to cleanse the body of infection. The Lenape indians used the flowers as a treatment for colic in children. Many tribes used the leaves and bark for insect repellents. 
Early colonists and native Americans alike used the berries cosmetically, nutritionally & medicinally. Cosmetically, elderberry infused water was thought to tone the skin, soothe sunburn and the berries could even dye hair. Martha Washington mentioned both elderberry jam & wine in her cookbook. Colonial woman began making elderberry syrup like concoctions of sugar and berries that would be taken for coughs and flu like symptoms. Elderberry was noted by both native Americans and early doctors to treat rheumatism. 
In the civil war, maggots from flies were quite the problem near soldiers' wounds. Luckily elderberry grew abundantly and the leaves were placed near their bedsides to deter flies. During the war, there were shortages of ink for which elderberries were also used!
Elderberries cyanide content has been known for some time and it's advised to always cook the berries / plant components before ingestion as this rids them of cyanide risk 
According to Dr. James Duke, while elderberry hasn't been as well studied modernly in America, there are over 500+ European medical studies on the plant. A high amount of research indicated it helps with the following medical conditions according to Dr. Duke :
- Head Cold
- Neurosis (mild mental illness)
There's also a high amount of research that is serves as a lactagogue (increases milk production) in nursing mothers.
Dr. Duke cites a University of Florida research team that found elderberry extracts inhibited human influenza A (H1N1) infection in vitro. The antiviral activities of elderberry flavanoids was comparable to those of Tamiflu & Amantadine, prescription drugs. 
According to a 2018 meta-analysis in the medical journal Complementary Therapeutic Medicine, "supplementation with elderberry was found to substantially reduce upper respiratory symptoms. The quantitative synthesis of the effects yielded a large mean effect size. These findings present an alternative to antibiotic misuse for upper respiratory symptoms due to viral infections, and a potentially safer alternative to prescription drugs for routine cases of the common cold and influenza." 
In the medical journal Autoimmune Review, a 2020 article proposed elderberry extracts as a potential over the counter option for early treatment of COVID-19, as it does not cause significant risk, and also has been shown to be effective against similar viruses in the past. 
In the journal Positive Health News, a study from 1998 found that elderberry along with olive leaf extract blocked HIV replication decreasing the viral load. 
A recent study in the journal of Immunopharmacology, revealed that elderberries may be a good treatment option for subacute rhinosinusitis. Rhinosinusitis is a common disorder related to the inflammation of paranasal sinuses and the nasal cavity's mucosa. In the study, the black elderberry extract diminished the inflammatory response, leading researchers to believe it may help relieve systemic inflammation 
As you can see, the research and history behind using elderberries as a medicinal plant is thorough and widespread. This wonderful plants offers holistic wellness for almost everyone- seeing as it is shown to relieve basic issues like colds, coughs & fevers that affect all of us at one point or another. Definitely take advantage of this wonderful fruit and stock up on elderberry syrup this cold & flu season. Currently I'm having a 20% off sale on my elderberry syrup and DIY syrup kits which you can find here.
I am not a medical professional and this information is for educational purposes only. Elderberries are not intended to treat, prevent, or cure any disease.