13 Side Effects of Elderberries

Elderberries can offer many health benefits when consumed in moderation. However, consuming too much of them can have serious health risks. Eating large amounts of elderberries or drinking too much elderberry juice or extract can lead to gastrointestinal issues, headaches, dizziness, and in some cases, severe allergic reactions.

To reduce the risks of consuming too much elderberry, it is important to follow the recommended guidelines and not exceed the recommended daily intake. Additionally, checking with a healthcare professional before consuming large amounts of elderberry products is advised.

What Are Elderberries

Elderberry is a genus of shrubs and trees with purplish-black berries that have been used medicinally since ancient times. The most popular species are the European Black Elder (Sambucus nigra) native to Europe, North Africa, and Western Asia, Red Elder (Sambucus racemosa) found in Northern America and Blue Elder (Sambucus mexicana) found in Central America.

All varieties of Elderberry have similar amounts of antioxidants making them popular as jams and jellies due to their dark color and sweet taste when cooked with sugar or honey. Elderberry is consumed in syrups, jams, wines, teas, juices, and dietary supplements, providing many health benefits.

Nutritional Benefits Of Elderberries

Elderberries are a nutrient-rich superfood with many potential health benefits. They are packed with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals such as quercetin, anthocyanins, proanthocyanidins, vitamin C, potassium, manganese, iron, magnesium, and phosphorus. These compounds help reduce inflammation, improve cardiovascular health, reduce the risk of cancer, and support a healthy immune system.

Elderberries are also a good source of fiber, which may improve digestion and help with weight management. With no known negative side effects, elderberries are an excellent addition to any diet.

(1) Possible Gastrointestinal Discomfort

Eating too much elderberry can hurt your digestive system. Symptoms such as stomach pain, cramps, bloating, and other digestive issues can occur after consuming an excessive amount of berries. It is therefore important to limit your intake to the recommended daily allowance to avoid any uncomfortable side effects.

Eating a balanced diet that includes a variety of foods from each food group while limiting high-sugar fruits like elderberry can help minimize any adverse effects. By taking the necessary precautions, you can enjoy the beneficial properties of elderberry without the risk of digestive problems.

(2) Diarrhea And Nausea

Elderberries are known to have many potential health benefits. However, consuming too many of them can lead to some serious side effects. Diarrhea and nausea are the most common issues that arise from consuming too many elderberries.

This is because of the presence of compounds such as anthocyanins, flavonoids, and tannins, which can irritate the gastrointestinal system when consumed in large amounts.

Other symptoms can include abdominal pain, cramping, dizziness, and headaches. Therefore, it is important to monitor the consumption of elderberries and not exceed the recommended amounts to avoid these side effects.

(3) Allergic Reactions

Elderberry allergies can cause a range of symptoms, from itchy skin rashes to anaphylactic shock. If someone is known to be intolerant, they should avoid any elderberry products. If a reaction is experienced after consuming elderberries, medical attention should be sought right away.

It is also important to check with a healthcare professional before taking any supplement containing elderberry extract as there could be potential interactions with other medications. Allergies should be taken seriously and preventative measures should be taken to ensure overall health. Knowing one’s intolerances or allergies is essential for making informed decisions about what is consumed.

(4) Skin Irritation

Elderberry consumption can lead to skin rashes and irritation. Symptoms of an elderberry-induced rash include redness and itching, as well as small bumps or hives. To treat such a rash, antihistamines and steroid creams can be used topically. Additionally, avoiding further exposure to berries is recommended.

In the event of a severe allergic reaction, medical attention should be sought. Though elderberries contain some potential health benefits, it is important to note that overconsumption can cause undesirable physical effects.

(5) Interaction With Medication

Elderberry is believed to interact with certain medications due to its effect on cytochrome P450 enzymes in the liver. These enzymes are responsible for breaking down many drugs, including antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, statins, and anticoagulants.

Although clinical studies have yet to determine if there are any adverse effects from combining elderberry with prescribed medication, it is important to consult a doctor before mixing them.

Elderberry has been shown to potentially interact with antibiotics such as ciprofloxacin or amoxicillin, anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen, cholesterol-lowering statins, and even anticoagulants such as warfarin. Taking these precautions will ensure that no unexpected interactions occur.

(6) Dehydration

Elderberries are commonly enjoyed as a food source, yet can result in dehydration when consumed in excess. Symptoms of dehydration caused by excessive elderberry consumption include dizziness, fatigue, and dry mouth.

To prevent dehydration from occurring with too much elderberry consumption, individuals should drink plenty of fluids before or after eating, opt for fresh berries instead of dried ones, and seek medical attention immediately if signs of dehydration appear.

While elderberries can be a nutritious addition to one’s diet, it is important to be mindful of the potential risks associated with excessive consumption.

(7) Sleep Disruption

Consuming too many elderberries can lead to sleep disruption, which can cause insomnia or difficulty remaining asleep. This is especially true for children, pregnant women, and elderly people who are already prone to sleep disturbances. To avoid potential side effects, it is important to consult a doctor to determine the safe amount and frequency of elderberry consumption.

Overconsumption can have serious health consequences, so it is important to be aware of how to properly use this powerful berry. By following the recommended dosage, individuals can benefit from the many positive effects of elderberry without putting their health at risk.

(8) Vitamin A Toxicity

Elderberries contain a naturally high level of retinol, the active form of vitamin A. Eating too many elderberries can lead to vitamin A toxicity, which can cause headaches, nausea, vomiting, double vision, and skin problems.

To avoid these symptoms, monitor your intake and be aware that even moderate amounts can raise blood levels of vitamin A beyond safe limits. Additionally, consult your healthcare provider if you are taking any other medications to ensure that your overall vitamin A levels remain within an acceptable range.

(9) Blood Sugar Imbalance

One of the most serious side effects is the potential to cause blood sugar imbalance. Elderberries are high in sugar and can cause a sudden spike in blood sugar levels. This could lead to serious health problems, such as diabetes and other complications.

Additionally, elderberries contain a compound that can reduce the effectiveness of some medications, so it is important to talk to a doctor before consuming them if you are taking any medications. While there are many health benefits to be gained from consuming elderberries, it is important to be aware of the potential risks and to monitor your blood sugar levels when consuming them.

(10) Blood Pressure Issue

Elderberries have been used for centuries to treat a variety of ailments and have been found to have several potential health benefits. However, there is some concern that elderberries may hurt people with high blood pressure. Elderberries contain high levels of cyanogenic glycosides, which can act as a vasoconstrictor and cause a sudden rise in blood pressure.

Additionally, those with existing high blood pressure should avoid the use of elderberry supplements as they may cause further increases in blood pressure. If you have high blood pressure, it is important to talk to your doctor before taking elderberry supplements.

(11) Increased Risk of Bleeding

The side effects of elderberries are generally considered to be minor and uncommon. However, some people may be at an increased risk of bleeding because of their potential to interfere with blood clotting. Elderberries contain anticoagulant compounds, which might increase the risk of bleeding when taken in large doses or combined with other medications that also affect blood clotting.

People with bleeding disorders, or who are currently taking blood thinners, should consult their doctor before taking elderberry supplements. Additionally, since there is always the risk of an allergic reaction, it is important to start with small doses and increase the dosage gradually.

(12) Headache

Elderberries have many potential health benefits, but they may also cause side effects such as headaches. This is because the fruit contains compounds called bioflavonoids, which can act as mild stimulants and can cause headaches in some people. To reduce the risk of headaches, it is important to consume elderberries in moderation and to monitor your response.

If you experience a headache after consuming elderberries, reduce your intake or stop consuming them altogether. Additionally, drinking plenty of water and avoiding other stimulants such as caffeine can help to reduce the risk of headaches. Finally, it is important to speak to your doctor if you experience persistent headaches or any other concerning symptoms.

(13) Kidney Problems

Elderberry consumption can cause kidney problems in some people, though the risk is low. Elderberries contain oxalates, which are compounds that can cause kidney stones in some people. Additionally, elderberry contains a compound called pyrrolizidine alkaloids, which can be toxic to the kidneys.

If you have a history of kidney problems, it is best to avoid consuming elderberry or speak with your doctor before doing so. Mild side effects, such as nausea and diarrhea, have also been reported with elderberry consumption. It is best to speak with a doctor before consuming elderberry if you are pregnant, have a weakened immune system, or are taking any medications.


Elderberries are popular for their nutritional value and ability to boost the immune system. However, it is important to be aware of the potential risks of consuming too much.

Eating organic, additive-free products is the safest option, and healthcare professionals should be consulted before increasing intake beyond recommended levels. Excessive amounts can lead to digestive discomfort, dehydration, and vitamin A toxicity.

Therefore, it is essential to pay attention to dosage guidelines and ingredients when consuming elderberry products. Moderation is key to reaping the benefits of elderberries without experiencing any adverse effects.


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