Herbalism Tip: Is Elderberry Safe During Pregnancy And Breastfeeding?

Herbalism Tip: Is Elderberry Safe During Pregnancy And Breastfeeding?

Elderberries are one of the herbs that I am asked the most about, in regard to its safety in pregnancy and breastfeeding. This article is part of my ‘tip’ articles series. For more information on the ‘tip’ series, please read my first ‘tip’ article on preservatives.

Is Elderberry Safe During Pregnancy And Breastfeeding?

Elderberry syrup is great during colds and flu
Take elderberry syrup during colds and flu!

There isn’t really any scientific data on this but black elderberries (Sambucus nigra) are considered safe during most cases of pregnancy and lactation by most herbalists. For example, Dr. Aviva Romm, who is a medical doctor as well as an herbalism pioneer, recommends elderberry syrup during pregnancy for short durations1. Qualified clinical herbalist Rosalee de la Foret has mentioned she believes elderberries are safe during pregnancy too2. In other countries, elderberries are eaten as a food by many pregnant and breastfeeding women, without any known issues. Though there are other food based herbs that shouldn’t be eaten during pregnancy or lactation, no adverse reactions have been reported for elderberries. As far as I know, elderberry is most likely safe for most pregnant and breastfeeding women but there may be some cases where it might not be (see below).

Elderberries may cause some digestive distress if too many raw elderberries are eaten. But once elderberries are cooked, they are safe to eat and they no longer cause digestive distress. The potential digestive issues apply to everyone, not just pregnant women!

If you are buying elderberry syrup, please note that many elderberry syrups are made with other herbs in addition to the elderberries. So any safety considerations with elderberry syrup during pregnancy and breastfeeding most likely wouldn’t be with the elderberries themselves, but there might be some issues with the other herbs that are added to the elderberry syrup. Some of the other herbs may be safe during pregnancy and breastfeeding and some might not be. If you are unsure about whether the other herbs are safe during pregnancy and breastfeeding, then you may want to consider just taking a plain elderberry syrup that is made only with elderberries, water, and sweetener.

Elderberries are generally safe during pregnancy and lactation but please research well before use!
Elderberries are pretty safe, but research herbs well before use!

Note that all of the information in this article is in regard to Sambucus nigra. There are different species of elderberry available. In addition do not consume elderberries if you are allergic to them, if you have personal adverse sensitivities to them, or if they are contraindicated for your health issues. I generally do not recommend taking herbs in excess during pregnancy, so only take elderberry as needed in pregnancy, if elderberry is suitable for your specific case.

Lastly, please research herbs well and be sure to consult with a qualified professional herbalist before using any herb during pregnancy or breastfeeding to make sure it is the right and safe choice for your specific circumstances. There are many herbs that are safe for most women to take during pregnancy and breastfeeding, but there may be contraindications for your specific case, and even taking a relatively benign herb might not be the safest or best choice for you. For example, many herbalists caution about taking herbs during the first trimester of pregnancy unless necessary. In addition this article is for educational purposes only and it does not replace medical advice, or a consultation from a qualified herbalist.


1Romm, A. (2022). Elderberry, Probiotics, and Other Natural Ways to Prevent the Flu. Aviva Romm MD. https://avivaromm.com/flu-season-hits-hard-again/

2De la Foret, R. (2018-2022). Elderberry Benefits. Herbs With Rosalee. https://www.herbalremediesadvice.org/elderberry-benefits.html


Interested In Learning More Herbalism?

Learn more about other herbs such as yarrow or learn about fireweed.

Be sure to check out more herbalism articles on Plant Alkemie’s website: https://www.plantalkemie.com.

If you have questions about my Eldeberry safety article, please ask them in the comments below! If you have any questions about aromatherapy, herbalism, formulation, and perfumery, I would be happy to answer them in Herbs, Essential Oils, Perfumes & Formulation by Plant Alkemie facebook group or on Plant Alkemie Institute of Holistic Botanical Studies Facebook business page.

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