Can you take elderberry while pregnant?

Can you take elderberry while pregnant?

Elderberry syrup is massively popular right now as a supplement to boost the immune system and fight colds or the flu. Yet, can you take elderberry while pregnant?​ Does it have any benefits for those who are pregnant? 

What is Elderberry?

elderberry in pregnancy

The vitamin C packed elderberries come from the deciduous Elder tree that can be found all across the United Kingdom. Elderberry is also known as elder, black elder, European elder, European elderberry, and European black elderberry. It gets it name not from ‘elder’ meaning ‘old’, but from the word ‘æld’, meaning fire, because the hollow stems of the branches were used as bellows to blow air into a fire [1].

 

The Unripe berries, the seeds of the fruit, and all green parts of the plant are poisonous, containing cyanogenic glycosides unless they are cooked properly [2]. When cooked, elderberries and their flowers can be used for several different recipes like elderberry syrup, jam, jelly, elder wine, brandy, snaps, elderflower cordial, elderberry pie, and more. In Germany, a special soup called Fliederbeersuppe is made from elderberries!

 

Historically, Elder trees were planted near the home in order to ‘prevent the devil’ from entering the home. All part of the elder tree have also been used as dyes as well.
The Unripe berries, the seeds of the fruit, and all green parts of the plant are poisonous, containing cyanogenic glycosides unless they are cooked properly [2]. When cooked, elderberries and their flowers can be used for several different recipes like elderberry syrup, jam, jelly, elder wine, brandy, snaps, elderflower cordial, elderberry pie, and more. In Germany, a special soup called Fliederbeersuppe is made from elderberries!

 

Historically, Elder trees were planted near the home in order to ‘prevent the devil’ from entering the home. All part of the elder tree have also been used as dyes as well.

can you take elderberry while pregnant?

elderberry syrup in pregnancy

Elderberry in all forms is being sold all over as a way to boost the immune system and fight colds and the flu. Even though it seems like Elderberry is a new and trendy holistic supplement, it has been used for centuries in folk medicine to treat upper respiratory infections, colds, and other issues like acne!

 

Yet, can you take elderberry syrup in pregnancy to boost your immune system or fight the cold/flu? Although elderberry is seemingly everywhere, there is very limited research to prove its effectiveness in fighting infections or viruses. The berries do have an exceptional amount of vitamin C and antioxidants which we know can help the immune system.

The current recommendation for elderberry syrups for those who are pregnant is that “health care personnel should not advice pregnant women to use echinacea or elderberry against upper respiratory tract infection. [3]” because of a lack of evidence that it is safe to use.

 

On the same token, it isn’t proven to be unsafe either. So, if you would like to take elderberry during pregnancy, I would have a conversation with your care provider and ask them “can you take elderberry while pregnant?”. The great news is that because Elderberry is so popular right now, there are several research studies, like one being done at The Cleveland Clinic, that are being done to find out if it is safe to use for kids, babies, and anyone who is pregnant as well as if it even does help fight the cold and flu.

Sources

1. “Elder (Sambucus nigra) – British trees -“. Woodland Trust. Retrieved 3 November 2017.

2. “European elder”. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, US National Library of Medicine. 1 August 2020. Retrieved 4 September 2021.

3. Holst L, Havnen GC, Nordeng H. Echinacea and elderberry-should they be used against upper respiratory tract infections during pregnancy? Front Pharmacol. 2014 Mar 4;5:31. doi: 10.3389/fphar.2014.00031. PMID: 24624087; PMCID: PMC3941201.

OKC Birth Doula Jenni Jenkins

Jenni Jenkins – Sekine is an Oklahoma City Bereavement, Birth, & Postpartum doula who serves her Central Oklahoma  community.   She is also a midwifery assistant with Holistic Birthing Services and planning to begin her student midwifery journey in 2022. 

Jenni is also the creator & facilitator of the Kaleidoscope OKC LGBTQ Family Support Group & the Nurture Oklahoma Live Interview Series.

To learn more about Jenni, please click here.