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VERIFY: Can elderberry syrup cure a cold?

A wild berry with magical healing powers sounds like something out of a fantasy flick. Could the wonder berry really be a to cure common illness?

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — (WHAS11) -- As far as we know there is no cure for the cold and the flu can be a beast!

But some people are swearing by the ancient cold and flu remedy of elderberries.

It is a wild berry said to have magical healing powers sounds like something out of a fantasy flick. 

And a lot of you guys are telling us on social media… you are convinced that elderberries are the go-to remedy when you start feeling sick.

We wanted to know if the science and medical communities are as convinced as you are so Rob Harris set out to verify.


Q: Can taking Elderberry syrup really cure a cold or even the flu? 

A: Experts say vitamins and nutrients known to boost the immune system are naturally found in elderberries but more science is needed to prove the benefits.


National Institute of Health 

Dr. Lesley Kellie, Internal Medicine Physician with Norton Healthcare


A quick search of the studies featured by National Institute of Health seems to show benefits.  

We also spoke with a Doctor here at Norton Health Care in Louisville, she agreed there are Vitamins and nutrients in elderberries that can help you stay healthy.  

"Scientifically that is because it has antioxidants and some flavonoids in there that can help boost the immune system and it is a really good source of vitamin A, B, and C," Dr. Kellie told us.

There is a caveat – all this research is still preliminary, and Dr. Kellie has some warnings for some people that want to try elderberry themselves.  

Dr. Kellie said elderberry products are not regulated by the FDA, "we don’t know what other chemicals are in there when they are taking a supplement".

RELATED: Elderberry syrup is a thing, and people swear by it as a flu remedy

Other parts of the plant like the stem and the leaves can be toxic to humans if ingested so an attempt to make your own medicine is not a good idea. 

"As with any supplements that you're going to take, you should ask your doctor first because if there are interactions with other medication and in order to be safe it would be best if your physician knew what you were taking," Dr. Kellie said.

In addition to taking supplements, the first defense against illness is a healthy lifestyle - keeping clean hands, getting plenty of rest and eating colorful vegetables and fruits.

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