by New Chapter
Elderberry is one of Nature’s perfect ingredients for immune support. While it’s been used traditionally for hundreds of years, Elderberry’s impressive benefits are also the subject of multiple modern clinical studies. Long story short: Elderberry works. But what is Elderberry exactly? What should you look for in Elderberry products, and how should you use them? The first key lies in the color of the fruit. Black Elderberry is the one you want for therapeutic purposes—and for good reason.
What is Black Elderberry?
Black Elderberry is a deciduous tree native to Europe and western Asia as well as northern Africa. Black Elderberry has been rightfully revered throughout herbal history for its awesome immune defense action. A true superfood, Elderberry can be a great immune system booster for the whole family.
Other names for this immune-boosting powerhouse include Black Elder, European Elder, European Elderberry, or the Latin Sambucus nigra. And if you’ve heard of Elder flower? That’s the same plant! The Elder flowers set and mature into Elderberries.
The color of Black Elderberries is typically a deep purple-black. This super-dark color indicates particularly high flavonoid content. Flavonoids are natural antioxidants that can have powerful benefits for human health. Science shows that Black Elderberry’s high levels of flavonoids, called anthocyanins, are linked to high levels of effectiveness for immune support benefits.
Black Elderberry is one of many types of Elderberry plants. Others include Sambucus canadensis (which can go by American black elderberry, Canada elderberry, or common elderberry), black lace elderberry, red elderberry, Adams elderberry, lemony lace elderberry, black beauty elderberry, blue elderberry, Scotia elderberry, and York elderberry.
History of Black Elderberry
The ancient Greeks described the healing benefits of Elderberry 2500 years ago, including the famous physician Hippocrates. Black Elderberry has been called “the medicine chest of the country people” thanks to its versatility and multiple medicinal benefits. Elder trees were believed to have magical and protective properties and were prevented from being cut for wood, thus preserving them for therapeutic uses.
Learn more on New Chapter's blog about the history of Black Elderberry, from addressing the tree’s spirit to one of the first medical textbooks.
Where is Elderberry Sourced From?
The Black Elderberry that’s used in dietary supplements is typically cultivated in Europe. For New Chapter Elderberry products, we source superior quality Black Elderberry from Austria. Austria has the perfect soil and climate conditions for Sambucus nigra Black Elderberry to develop large, potent fruit that are packed with anthocyanins. After harvest, our sustainably sourced, non-GMO Black Elderberry is cleanly extracted with a purely mechanical filtration process. No solvents or evaporation are required. Instead, the potent Black Elderberry is pushed through an ultra-fine filter that captures the fruit’s beneficial phytonutrients. This mechanical filtration process gives you the same rich profile of phytonutrients as the whole fruit, but 64 times more concentrated. Very powerful!
Black Elderberry can also be cultivated in your own backyard if you live in USDA zones 4-8. Check if the Elderberry variety you’re choosing is self-fruiting (self-pollinating) which means you only need one variety, or if it’s recommended to get two types that can cross-pollinate with each other. Your local plant nursery or cooperative extension service should be able to help with cultivation questions and advice. For example, it’s recommended to fertilize your plants with compost each year. Mulch around the plants to protect their shallow roots.
Elderberries are harvested in the late summer and fall and are great in jams, pies, or syrups. Avoid eating raw berries, and do not eat the stems. (One herbalist tip is to freeze the berries to make it easier to remove stems easily and thoroughly. Then, cook the berries as desired.) The flowers can also be harvested when they bloom earlier in the summer. Elder flowers can be dried for a mild tea, delicious liqueur, and even a skin-tightening toner.
Health Benefits and Uses
Elderberry has had many uses over the centuries as our medical understanding has grown and changed. In today’s world, there are some standout benefits that make it worth having Elderberry on your supplement shelf at all times.
Elderberry is a heavyweight when it comes to delivering immune benefits. There are several ways to add Black Elderberry to your natural wellness routine:
- Black Elderberry can be taken every day to support overall wellness.
- You can take Black Elderberry seasonally, such as starting in the autumn and continuing into the winter months.
- Some take Black Elderberry for a boost at the first sign of an immune challenge.
The anthocyanins in Black Elderberry are believed to work as free radical scavengers at the cellular level. In other words, Black Elderberry contains powerful antioxidants that protect cells from damage. Research has found that the benefits of Elderberry can accumulate over time. So if you’re planning to take a trip, for example, start taking Elderberry around 10 days before you go to reap immune benefits as you travel. (Keep taking the Elderberry as you travel, too—on-the-go packets are perfect for this.)
Uses for Adults
With a superfood this remarkable, should you be taking Elderberry every single day? You definitely can! The compounds can build up the system so you are ready to face immune challenges that come your way. You can also start taking Black Elderberry at the first sign of an immune challenge, and then keep it up every day.
Uses for Children
In general, kids age 2 and over can benefit from Elderberry. Because it’s a fruit, it’s readily available in forms that kids love, including syrup and gummies. Do watch out for the sweeteners you’re giving kids in the form of gummies. New Chapter kids’ products are sweetened only with honey or real fruit—no cane sugar and no corn syrup.