Cold sores can be an uncomfortable and embarrassing condition to live with, so many people are looking for natural solutions to manage their symptoms.

One promising remedy is elderberry, which has been used for centuries as a traditional remedy throughout Europe, North America, and Australia. But how effective is elderberry for cold sores? Let’s take a look.  

What is Elderberry?

Elderberry (Sambucus Nigra) is a herb that has been used to treat various illnesses since ancient times. It grows in the form of a shrub and produces dark purple berries that contain high levels of antioxidants, which are known to be beneficial for human health.

In addition, elderberries are packed with vitamins A, B, and C, along with minerals like potassium, iron, and zinc. 

You can also check our article on Foods That Help Combat Cold Sores and Sore Throats.

Can It Help with Treating Cold Sores?

Recent studies have shown that elderberries may be effective in treating cold sores caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV-1). 

Elderberry is most commonly used as a natural remedy for colds and flus due to its antiviral properties. It can also be used as an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant agent. 

In terms of treating cold sores, several studies have shown that elderberry extract can significantly reduce the severity and duration of outbreaks when taken orally or applied topically. 

It works by reducing the virus’s ability to replicate itself and thus preventing further spread. Additionally, elderberry contains tannins which can help reduce inflammation and irritation associated with cold sores. 

Does It Have Any Other Health Benefits?

Elderberry is not only effective in treating cold sores and colds & flus but it has also been found to have other potential health benefits as well. 

Research has shown that elderberry may help reduce cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, and improve immune system response. It can also be used to treat constipation, urinary tract infections, and skin inflammation. 

In addition, its high antioxidant content helps protect cells from oxidative damage caused by free radicals. Thus, consuming elderberries on a regular basis may help reduce the risk of certain diseases, such as cancer and heart disease. 

Uses of Elderberry 

Elderberries can be used in many ways to treat cold sores, including topical applications such as creams or ointments or orally through supplements or teas.

Studies suggest that applying topical applications containing elderberry extract may help reduce the duration of cold sore outbreaks by up to two days compared to placebo treatments. 

Additionally, studies have found that taking oral elderberry supplements may help reduce symptoms such as pain, itching, and redness associated with cold sores due to its anti-inflammatory properties. 

In terms of safety, studies suggest that elderberry is generally considered safe when taken orally or applied topically, but it is not recommended for pregnant women or those with autoimmune disorders since it could potentially worsen their condition.  

Is It Safe for Children?

Elderberry is generally considered safe for adults, but there are some safety concerns when it comes to giving it to children. For one thing, the berry should never be eaten raw because it contains toxic compounds that can cause stomach upset or even worse side effects if ingested in large quantities. 

Additionally, because elderberries are high in salicylates (a compound found in aspirin), they should not be given to children under the age of 18 who are taking aspirin regularly or who have any type of bleeding disorder. 

Finally, while there is limited evidence suggesting that elderberry may help reduce fever in children, more research is needed before making any definitive claims about its safety or efficacy in this regard. 

Dosage: How Much Elderberry Should I Take?

The amount of elderberry you should take depends on the form you are using and the severity of your symptoms. For example, if you are using a topical application such as a cream or ointment containing elderberry extract.

It is generally suggested that you apply a thin layer of the product to the affected area two to three times per day for up to seven days. 

If you are taking an oral supplement or drinking elderberry tea, it is generally recommended that you take 1 teaspoon (5 ml) of the extract or half a cup (120 ml) of the tea up to three times per day.

It is important to note that there is no standard dose for elderberry and some experts suggest taking significantly higher doses than what is listed here. 

What Happens If I Take Too Much Elderberry?

While it is typically safe to consume elderberry in moderate amounts, taking too much can result in an unpleasant array of side effects, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Additionally, because elderberry is a natural diuretic, it can cause dehydration if taken in large quantities over an extended period of time. 

What Are the Side Effects of Elderberry?

In general, elderberry is well tolerated when taken in recommended doses; however, there may be some mild side effects, such as headache or stomach upset.

If these occur after taking elderberry supplements or tinctures, it’s best to stop taking them and seek medical advice from your doctor immediately. Additionally, pregnant women should not take elderberry without consulting their health care provider first. 

Interactions with Other Medications H3

Elderberries contain a compound called anthocyanin which can interact with certain medications, such as blood thinners or diabetes medications.

It’s important to discuss any medications you’re currently taking with your doctor before starting an elderberry supplement or tincture regimen. So that they can ensure there will be no adverse interactions between them and the medication(s) you are currently taking.

Allergic Reactions

In rare cases, some people may experience allergic reactions when they take elderberries, such as hives or difficulty breathing; if this occurs, seek immediate medical attention.

Additionally, people with a known allergy to plants in the Sambucus family (which includes elderberries) should not take any products containing elderberry. 

How to Store Elderberry?

Elderberries should be stored in an airtight container in a cool, dark place. This will help preserve the beneficial compounds in the berries and prevent them from oxidizing or going bad. 

Additionally, elderberry products such as supplements, teas, and tinctures should be stored in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight or heat. 

The shelf life of most forms of elderberries can range anywhere from 12 months up to two years, depending on their form and storage conditions, so make sure you check the expiration date before consuming it. 


Overall, elderberry appears to be an effective natural remedy for treating cold sores due to its antiviral properties and anti-inflammatory effects. Nevertheless, as with any supplement or herbal remedy, consulting your physician prior to beginning a new treatment regimen is highly recommended.

Additionally, due to potential safety concerns regarding salicylates and other compounds found in raw elderberries, extra caution should be taken when giving them to children under 18 years old or those taking regular doses of aspirin. 

By understanding these risks and consulting with your healthcare provider before beginning treatment with elderberries, you can ensure that you get all the possible benefits without compromising your safety or well-being.

We hope this article has provided you with a better understanding of how effective is elderberry for cold sores and given you the information you need to make an informed decision. Good luck on your journey to better health!