Herbal medicines for the cure of pain, swelling and infection are made from the ripe berries of the Sambucus nigra plant. Experts believe that the berries contain anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and anti-viral properties. According to The University of Maryland Medical Center, the duration of flu can be shortened by black elderberry which is also believed to improve sinus symptoms. However, there is a strong possibility of side effects.

Black elderberry, is also known as European elder, and is a fruit-bearing shrub which can achieve lengths of up to 30 feet in regions with plenty of sun. It is important to know here that when these berries are not ripe they are green in colour. Then they gradually become red and then finally turn black when ripe. While black berries contain numerous health-promoting properties which include flavonoids, it is important to be mentioned here that raw berries contain a chemical akin to cyanide, which is a poisonous compound.

Uncooked and unripe Black Elderberry

Since unripe and uncooked black elderberries are toxic, consuming them may cause abdominal discomfort, which can include severe diarrhea and vomiting. In certain cases they can also lead to death. Toxins are also found in the leaves which can be harmful if ingested.

Safety as a drug

Black elderberry might pose a serious threat to people who are already on other medications or are using any other herbal remedies such as diuretics, medications, immunosuppressant drugs, diabetes and medications for asthma and other respiratory problems. To avoid any damage, it is therefore recommended that you consult your doctor about the safety and use of black elderberry before use.

Safe Use

It is highly recommended that when you use black elderly for medicinal purposes, you do it under the supervision and consultation of your doctor. However, the use should not go beyond five days, because long-term use will increase the chances of side effects. The berries are used in teas, tablets and liquid extracts. For adults, two tablets thrice a day are enough for treating sinus infections. Meanwhile, flu patients can use four tablespoons daily for a period of three days.

Health Hazards

As it is now known that elderberry is rich in antioxidants, so many drug manufacturers fancy their products of containing these berries, claiming them to have the power to protect against diseases and treat existing health related issues. However, these claims are often falsely made and are generally unfounded.