elderflowerAlso Known As:

Common Elder, Sambucus. 

Scientific Name:

Sambucus nigra.

Family: Adoxaceae/Sambucaceae or Caprifoliaceae.

People Use This For:

Orally, elderflower is used for sinusitis, cold, influenza (flu), swine flu, bronchitis, and diabetes. It is also used as a laxative for constipation, as a diuretic, to promote sweating, and to stop bleeding.

Elderflower preparations are used as a gargle and mouthwash for coughs, colds, laryngitis and flu. It is used on the skin as an astringent.


No concerns regarding safety when used orally in amounts commonly found in foods. Elderflower has Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) status in the US.59


No concerns regarding safety when used orally in a specific combination product containing elderflower, gentian root, sorrel verbena, and cowslip flower (SinuComp, Sinupret).60,61

Pregnancy and Lactation: Refer to a Medical Herbalist 



Sinusitis. Taking a specific combination product containing elderflower, gentian root, verbena, cowslip flower, and sorrel (SinuComp Sinupret) seems to help treat acute or chronic sinusitis. Clinical trials have used the brand name product Sinupret.60,61


There is insufficient reliable information available to comment on the effectiveness of elderflower for its other uses.


Mechanism of Action:

Elderflower contains lectins, rutin, choline tannin, and lipophilic triterpenoid and sterol compounds such as lupeol and beta-sitosterol.62


Adverse Reactions:

Generally well tolerated


Interactions with Herbs & Supplements: 

None clinically demonstrated.


Interactions with Drugs:

None clinically demonstrated.


Interactions with Foods:

None known.


Interactions with Lab Tests:

None demonstrated


Interactions with Diseases or Conditions:

None noted.


Dr Clare’s Blends: 1 gm per day


Oral: For acute or chronic sinusitis, a specific combination product (SinuComp Sinupret) containing elderflower 30 mg, plus gentian root 12 mg, and 30 mg each of sorrel, verbena, and cowslip flower has been used three times daily.60,61


Dr Clare’s comment.

Very well tolerated, no patient had to stop treatment in 10 years. A very gentle herb suitable for all ages.


Specific References: ELDERFLOWER

59.  FDA. Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, Office of Premarket Approval, EAFUS: A food additive database. Available at: vm.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/eafus.html.

60.  Neubauer N, Marz RW. Placebo-controlled, randomized, double-blind, clincal trial with Sinupret sugar coated tablets on the basis of a therapy with antibiotics and decongestant nasal drops in acute sinusitis. Phytomedicine 1994;1:177-81.

61.  Marz RW, Ismail C, Popp MA. Action profile and efficacy of a herbal combination preparation for the treatment of sinusitis. Wien Med Wochenschr 1999;149:202-8.

62.  Gray AM, Abdel-Wahab YH, Flatt PR. The traditional plant treatment, Sambucus nigra (elder), exhibits insulin-like and insulin-releasing actions in vitro. J Nutr 2000;130:15-20.