Now that winter is around the corner, everyone seems to be talking about black elderberries, getting black elderberry supplements or making their own. But there also seems to be a lot of misinformation about black elderberries, so that’s why I want to share with you all you need to know about black elderberries.
Every year, families deal with coughs and colds but my family generally doesn’t. My kids may get the sniffles for a day or two, but that’s about it. I truly believe that’s because we make it a priority to eat healthy, stay healthy and because we keep our immune systems happy with black elderberries.
I was first introduced to this supplement by my naturopath about 6 years ago and ever since it’s become a staple in our home. If you’ve watched my Instagram stories, you know I love adding it to our smoothies but my kids also love the flavor of it so they will ask for it every day!
But unfortunately, as with most things, not every brand is the same, not every product is made the same and not everything we buy is what it seems to be. Turns out, not all black elderberry supplements are made the same way and this is important to know, especially if you’re taking this to stay healthy.
What are black elderberries?
As the name implies, black elderberry is a flowering shrub with dark purple berries. Grown in Central Europe, black elderberries have a very long history of safe use as folk medicine. The plant’s stem, bark, leaves, flowers, berries and root extracts are all used in traditional folk medicine. Elderberry juice has been used in traditional remedies for colds and coughs since ancient times in Egypt.
Black elderberries are not just like any other berry though. In fact, if antioxidants are nature’s good guys, then black elderberries are nature’s heroes. They contain a powerful type of antioxidant called flavonoids, which help to protect our cells from the potential damage caused by free radicals. You can learn more about antioxidants and free radicals here.
Fruits with dark blue and deep purple pigments – such as the black elderberry – contain flavonoids called anthocyanins, which support the body’s immune system. Black elderberries have nearly double the concentration of anthocyanins than most fruits. It’s what makes black elderberries so special and the magic ingredient that helps black elderberries support your immune system.
Not all black elderberries are the same
There are many varieties of elderberries ground around the world including black, blue, red and ornamental. However, it is the European Black Elderberry (Sambucus Nigra) that is most commonly used as a nutritional supplement.
You have probably seen all the DIY recipes to make your own black elderberry syrup. As you probably know, I’m a big fan of DIYing everything you can because I love to know what’s in the products we consume and use. However, black elderberry syrup is not something I recommend making yourself. You can make your own black elderberry jam or juice and treat it like food, but if you’re using it to support your immune system, I advise against making it.
Why? Because ultimately we don’t have labs in our homes. The temperature that you prepare your syrup at, the process, what parts you use, all of this is crucial. You need the right variety and they’ve got to be handled properly if you’re going to preserve these powerfully immune-supporting nutrients.
Most importantly, we need the very potent dose that can only come from using the right variety of berries, and the correct processes and temperatures.
There are lots of brands with similar-sounding names and packaging. But what worries me about the supplement industry is that supplements are not regulated. Which is why when it comes to supplements, I thoroughly research the brands and when possible, I try to meet with the people behind the company and learn from them about their product.
About 6 years ago when I started researching black elderberry syrup, I came across Sambucol, and now it’s the only brand I trust and use. Over the years, I’ve learned even more about this brand and I have even met the people behind it, which has given me even more trust in their product.
Why do we only take Sambucol Black Elderberries?
Sambucol was developed by a world-renowned virologist in 1991. It is backed by 20 years of scientific research, making it probably the most extensively researched black elderberry product in the world. Yes, most of those studies done on black elderberries are done with Sambucol, but other brands claim their products have the same effects because they’re using black elderberries.
But here’s the thing: We all know companies have proprietary ways of extracting fruits, proprietary processes and specific parts of the plants they use. If we’re going to take a supplement in my family, it is going to be the one that most studies are based on. That’s why I chose Sambucol over the other brands. It’s the brand that started it all but also the one with lots of science backing it up.
Sambucol also uses the whole berry and not just an extract, which makes their formulation the right one to support your immune system.
The process: how is black elderberry syrup made?
Every company has its own way of making a supplement. Since we only use Sambucol, I’m sharing with you their process. If you opt to choose another brand, I would invite you to contact that manufacturer and find out about their extraction process, which parts of the berry they use, if they have a standardized dose and if they add fillers to their products.
“What makes our elderberries special isn’t just the type, it’s the cultivation process from start to finish. We source all of our elderberries from farms that have been growing and perfecting the berries for generations. Grown in nutrient-rich soil at a perfect altitude, the berries are all harvested by hand at the perfect ripeness over a short 2-week harvest period. They then go through a proprietary extraction process, which ensures freshness while maintaining the potency of the berries. The berries go from picked off the plant, to inspection, to processing in less than 48 hours. In fact, our elderberry extraction process is so strict that it actually meets the tough European Fruit Juice Laws!”
This makes Sambucol a product your kids can drink every day. Still, it’s always best to follow your doctor’s instructions or the instructions on the bottle for an optimal dose of black elderberry.
Sambucol has a standardized dose. This means that what you read on the label is what you get in every serving of this supplement. Believe it or not, this can’t be said about every supplement out there, hence why I’m so picky about the brands we use.
The other thing I love about Sambucol is that it comes in different varieties including syrup, tablets, capsules, drinks, pastilles and gummies. So you are sure to find something your family likes! We take the syrup as well as the gummies. The gummies are delicious and my kids take them as dessert. Ha!
Check it out:
The easiest way to get Sambucol is through subscribe and save from Amazon – it gets delivered to you regularly and you save 5-15% off the price. If you buy 5 or more products on Amazon through subscribe and save your total savings is 15%.
Click here to see all the Sambucol products eligible for Subscribe and Save on Amazon.
When to take black elderberry syrup?
Black elderberry is a supplement that you can take every single day by following the dosage on the bottle. That is how we take it. However, when one of us has been exposed to someone sick or is showing signs of being sick, we take one dose of black elderberry 3-4 times a day.
I learned this trick from my naturopath as a way to support our immune system. She says it’s like sending extra soldiers to the battle field so that’s what I tell my kids too!
Cooking with Sambucol
If you want to experiment with black elderberries in your kitchen, here’s the good news. The syrup is delicious and can be used in everything from no-bake elderberry and peanut butter granola bars to smoothies. There are many tasty recipes on the Sambucol website that you can try and that don’t ruin the properties of the black elderberry.
Our favorite ways to use Sambucol are to take it straight from the bottle, add it in our smoothies or to a breakfast bowl.
Have any questions about Sambucol or Black Elderberry? Leave them in the comments and we’ll get back to you.