Bottle of Elderberry Syrup

Elderberry Supplements

Julie Weber Is This A Poison

Toxicity:  Varies based on the form. Elderberries are edible but need to be cooked properly. If eaten raw, the berry may cause stomach problems.

Expected symptoms:  Raw elderberries, and the leaves and bark, can cause stomach upset, nausea, vomiting, dizziness and diarrhea if eaten. Elderberry supplements are not expected to cause anything beyond minor stomach upset.

What to do:  If raw plant material is eaten, remove any remaining pieces of the plant, then give some water or milk to drink. If an over-the-counter elderberry product is ingested, gently wipe out the mouth and give a serving of water.

Quick Facts about elderberry supplements:

The elderberry plant (botanic name sambucus nigra) has been used as a medicinal plant for centuries. Most recently, elderberry supplements have been marketed as an “immune system booster” due to its antioxidant properties and vitamin C.  Many product choices are available in grocery stores and pharmacies such as syrups, lozenges, capsules and gummies. There are also homemade/DIY recipes on the internet (caution: some of these may not have the proper cooking methods).  Although the science on using elderberries to boost the immune system is not decided, there is some evidence that they may shorten the length of nasal congestion and flu symptoms.

When children are found with an opened bottle of medicinal elderberry supplements, a large amount is often eaten because the product is sweet and tastes like candy.  Even large ingestions do not usually cause problems; however, because of the variety of products on the market, it is best to call the poison center for specific instructions.  Ingesting raw elderberries, leaves or the bark can be irritating to the stomach and lead to nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.  Persistent vomiting and diarrhea can lead to dehydration.

If you find your child ingesting part of an elderberry plant or eating from the bottle of supplements, do not panic.  Take it away from them, wipe out the mouth with a soft, wet cloth and give them some water to drink.  If problems start or you have questions, call the Missouri Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222.  The poison center is open all day, every day for poisoning emergencies and questions.

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