Natural Health Products

Non-traditional solutions to help boost your health and wellness.

European Elder

General Information

European elder is a tree native to Europe and parts of Asia and Africa, and it also grows in the United States. There are several different types of elder, such as American elder, but European elder is the type most often used as a supplement.

Common Name(s)
European elder, black elder, elder, elderberry, elder flower, sambucus
Scientific Name(s)

Sambucus nigra

How is this product usually used?

European elder is a deciduous tree that is native to Europe, western Asia, and northern Africa. It also now grows in the United States. The flowers and berries of the tree are used in traditional medicine and food flavouring. The dried flowers and cooked berries are used in teas, liquids, powders, strips, and tablets.

For children 2 years of age emulsion/suspension and solution/liquid preparations of European elder can be used. For children aged 3 to 5 years chewable, emulsion/suspension, powders and solution/liquid preparations can be used.

Your health care provider may have recommended using this product in other ways. Contact a healthcare provider if you have questions.

What is this product used for?

European elder has been used for:

  • colds and flus
  • fever
  • hay fever
  • increasing urine production
  • inducing sweating
  • joint pain
  • removing waste from the kidneys, skin, and mucus
  • sinus pain/infections
  • strengthening the immune system

European elder may lessen influenza symptoms but not the duration of sickness. European elder does not have reliable research to claim it is effective in lessening symptoms of hay fever and the common cold.

Your health care provider may have recommended this product for other conditions. Contact a health care provider if you have questions.

What else should I be aware of?

Prepared extracts of European elder usually don’t lead to side effects. Uncooked or unripe elderberries, leaves, seeds, and other parts of the tree may cause nausea, vomiting, or severe diarrhea due to the presence of a cyanide-producing chemical.

European elder may interact with immunosuppressant drugs.

European elder should be avoided by those with autoimmune diseases. It should likely be avoided by people who are allergic to grass pollen. Talk to your doctor before using it if you are pregnant or breast-feeding. Contact your doctor if symptoms persist or worsen.

Before taking any new medications, including natural health products, speak to your physician, pharmacist, or other health care provider. Tell your health care provider about any natural health products you may be taking.

  1. Elderberry. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database.
  2. Health Canada. Drugs & Health Products. Monograph – Elder – Sambucus.

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