Can Elderberry Help Prevent Coronavirus?

We asked an infectious disease specialist if elderberry supplements could be effective in fighting coronavirus.

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Elderberry (Sambucus nigra) has been used as a medicinal remedy for generations and is back in the spotlight as a natural way to fight off the cold and flu. Elderberry not only has antibacterial and antiviral properties, but it is also loaded with essential nutrients like vitamins A and C, potassium, fiber and iron. It also can be helpful for frequent travelers looking to keep their immune systems up. So, naturally, we wondered if taking elderberry could help prevent coronavirus.

We reached out to Amira Albert Roess, Ph.D., M.P.H., an infectious disease expert and professor of Global Health and Epidemiology at George Mason University to see if taking elderberry could be beneficial for more than just fighting the flu.

"There is not enough data to show any potential health benefits," Roess says. "What we know about the benefits of elderberry comes from a few small studies and more work is needed before health claims can be made." Womp womp.

Shoppers wearing surgical masks
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While we are likely better off using elderberry syrup to prevent the flu and common cold, there are several things we can do to help stave off coronavirus. Roess previously told us there are other methods for preventing coronavirus that have the research to back them up. She suggests washing your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds before and after meals, when you get home from work and after using the restroom. And even the most avid hand-washers should keep their hands clear from their noses, mouths and eyes, as Roess says this is the most common way to introduce bacteria and viruses to the body.

Besides practicing proper hygiene, several lifestyle behaviors are essential for keeping your immune system up. Roess says we need to prioritize getting 7-9 hours of sleep each night, reduce stress levels, exercise regularly, stay hydrated and eat healthy foods.

Lisa Valente, M.S., R.D., EatingWell's senior nutrition editor, advises choosing whole foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains and heart-healthy fats for all the immune-boosting vitamins and minerals we need over supplements. Fruits and veggies are also loaded with antioxidants, while whole grains offer prebiotic fiber—all of which contribute to a healthy immune system.

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