Elderberry has become increasingly popular over the last few years and with good reason. It’s an extract from an elder tree that has been used medicinally for centuries! Elder plants or black elder are actually all over the world. And there are a ton of different elderberry types too. The most common type of elderberry plant is the European variety also known as Sambucus nigra. This one is considered one of the world’s most healing plants! This is because its berries and flowers are packed with antioxidants and vitamins that can strengthen your immune system, treat bad cholesterol levels, tame inflammation, minimize stress, and reduce the risk of heart disease.
However, even if elderberries are beneficial for most of the world’s population, that doesn’t deem them automatically safe to consume. Pregnant women are often advised against including natural remedies into their diets. So it’s normal for you to be on the fence about this medicinal berry. Don’t worry, today’s post will answer your burning questions on elderberry during pregnancy!
Is Elderberry Safe For Pregnancy?
Like many herbs during pregnancy, there isn’t enough research on it for a crystal clear yes or no answer. Elderberry hasn’t been proven to be safe or harmful for pregnant or breastfeeding women. The data just isn’t conclusive! Because of this, we recommend speaking to a medical professional before consuming elderberry or elderberry syrup as a pregnant woman. No adverse outcomes have been reported with use during pregnancy. But we don’t have data that it is safe either.
So, here’s the deal. The elderberry plant has two substances known for inducing nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting: lectin and cyanide. Which, as a pregnant woman, you probably want to avoid at all costs. It’s enough nausea with morning sickness! These substances are found in the bark, seeds, leaves, and unripe berries. The bark, seeds, and leaves should not be used in cooking or juicing.
Instead, if you cook the berries or eat a commercial remedy, those side effects will be minimal. Unripe elderberries should also be avoided. As they contain a cyanide-inducing glycoside and can lead to nausea, stomach aches, and other related side effects, also.
Eating cooked elderberries or a commercial supplement is mostly considered safe. However, it’s important to remember elderberry and other herbal supplements are considered “supplements”. And therefore, are not regulated by the FDA.
Anything that is unregulated we should take pause with during pregnancy. If you do utilize an elderberry supplement during pregnancy, make sure it is third-party tested. And a high-quality product.
Below are elderberry benefits found from evidence-based data in NON-PREGNANT individuals!
What Are The Health Benefits Of Elderberry
It can boost the immune system.
This is what elderberry is most well-known for! Elderberry is really high in vitamin C and antioxidants. Making it a great immune booster. Because of these nutrients, elderberries have been shown to reduce cold-like symptoms. This is especially true for elderberry extracts and infusions, as they have been linked to alleviated influenza cases.
There are many different commercially prepared portions of elderberry. All cooked and ripe to minimize any potential side effects, such as gummies, syrups, and teas. As it is, it seems like elderberries might be a useful supplement to fight the cold and flu. And this is the main reason to even consider using it during pregnancy.
It strengthens joints and bones.
Every pregnant woman knows it. Joints start hurting more than ever once you start nearing the second and third trimesters! These berries have a high calcium content and a good amount of anthocyanins (antioxidants). Both of these nutrients help to lessen the pain and soreness in the joints. As well as the occasional aches in the bones. The bones are also supercharged by the high mineral levels found in this plant!
It leads to a healthier respiratory tract.
Elderberries provide support for the lungs and other respiratory organs thanks to their high flavonoid content. These nutrients can help to clean out the phlegm or aid in tract infections present in the body. And improve respiratory tract conditions such as a sore throat, heavy cough, or other upper respiratory symptoms. Try elderberry tea for a soothing infusion that can do wonders for an inflamed throat! For more pregnancy-safe herbal teas, visit our membership community The Prenatal Nutrition Library.
It stimulates bowel movements.
Don’t think we forgot about constipation during pregnancy! This issue affects many pregnant women. And it’s heavily related to their own pregnancy diets. But elderberry can have a laxative effect that promotes bowel movement. And can come in handy when suffering from indigestion. Of course, increasing your fiber and fluid intake should be the first line of treatment for constipation nutrition-wise.
Elderberries are known to be diuretics. So proceed with caution if you are already running to the bathroom every hour. Just a little warning. Dried elderberry tea is also supposed to be the most helpful for constipation and indigestion! If you are looking for more natural pregnancy drinks, here are the best 10 pregnancy drinks for early pregnancy.
It can support your vision or improve it in some cases
We’ve all heard carrots are good for our vision. But surprisingly, elderberries are too! This is due to the anthocyanin pigments (what gives them their purplely color) present in the berries. These are compounds that preserve vision and may help you avoid eye fatigue!
So, next time you feel those eyes getting a bit tired, try a warm cup of tea to give them a nudge in the right direction. It’s not magic, but over time the results will be more noticeable. It’s likely best to rely on foods high in vitamin A for eye health during pregnancy. But It’s definitely worth the shot before or after pregnancy if you are struggling.
It’s good for heart health.
Who doesn’t want a healthier heart? Flavonoids have been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease. And elderberries are chock-full of them. Studies in rats have also shown that elderberry juice can be effective in decreasing cholesterol. This is great news and we hope more studies continue to show the different health benefits of elderberries. As well as their safety for pregnant women in specific!
Will you be taking elderberry or other herbal supplements during pregnancy?
That’s all you need to know about elderberry during pregnancy! Again, we really don’t know the safety of elderberry during pregnancy. And it’s not a supplement I would recommend keeping in your daily routine for this reason. But may be okay to use during cold and flu season. Make sure to check with your doctor and food and drug administration (FDA) recommendations before using it.
Remember to check out the rest of our blog and our app, the Prenatal Nutrition Library, for more advice on pregnancy health and how to lead an overall healthier lifestyle or diet. Stay healthy and good luck planning your pregnancy diet!