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Health Guide

Elder

What is it?

Elder is an herbal medicine used to treat cough, common cold, runny nose, sinus problems, constipation (difficulty having a bowel movement), and inflammation (redness and swelling). It is also used for diabetes, toothache, asthma, burns, epilepsy (seizures), gout, headache, and nervous conditions. Other uses for Elder include the treatment of nerve pain, psoriasis, wound healing, repelling insects, and increasing urine flow.

Other names for Elder include: Sambucus nigra, Black Elder, European Elder, Elderberry, Sambucus, Antelope Brush, Blue Elderberry, Boretree, Common Elder, Danewort, Dwarf Elder, Pipe Tree, Red-Fruited Elder, and Sweet Elder.

Ask your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist if you need more information about this medicine or if any information in this leaflet concerns you.

Before Using:

Tell your doctor if you ...

  • are taking medicine or are allergic to any medicine (prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) or dietary supplement)
  • are pregnant or plan to become pregnant while using this medicine
  • are breastfeeding
  • have any other health problems, such as high blood pressure or heart or blood vessel disease

Dosage:

Talk with your caregiver about how much Elder you should take. The amount depends on the strength of the medicine and the reason you are taking Elder. If you are using this medicine without instructions from your caregiver, follow the directions on the medicine bottle. Do not take more medicine or take it more often than the directions tell you to.

To store this medicine:

Keep all medicine locked up and away from children. Store medicine away from heat and direct light. Do not store your medicine in the bathroom, near the kitchen sink, or in other damp places. Heat or moisture may cause the medicine to break down and not work the way it should work. Throw away medicine that is out of date or that you do not need. Never share your medicine with others.

Warnings:

  • Before taking Elder, tell your doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • Prolonged or overuse of Elder may increase the amount of urine you make and may cause the loss of potassium from your body (3)
  • The unripe fruit, roots, stems, and leaves may be slightly poisonous (3, 4)
  • Cyanide poisoning from the bark, stems, roots, leaves, and unripe berries of the Elder plant has been reported (7)

Side Effects:

Stop taking your medicine right away and talk to your doctor if you have any of the following side effects. Your medicine may be causing these symptoms which may mean you are allergic to it.

  • Breathing problems or tightness in your throat or chest
  • Chest pain
  • Skin hives, rash, or itchy or swollen skin

Other Side Effects:

You may have the following side effects, but this medicine may also cause other side effects. Tell your doctor if you have side effects that you think are caused by this medicine.

  • Call your doctor if you have an abnormal heart beat (due to potassium loss) or you continue to throw up (3,4)
  • Upset stomach, diarrhea, or throwing up (3,5,7)

References:

1. Blumenthal M, Goldberg A, Brinckmann J et al: In Herbal Medicine, Expanded Commission E monographs. ABC, Austin TX 2000:103-105.

2. Zakay-Rones Z, Varsano N, Zlotnik M et al: Inhibition of several strains of influenza virus in vitro and reduction of symptoms by an Elderberry extract (Sambucus Nigra L.) during an outbreak of influenza B Panama. J Alt Compl Med 1995; 1(4):361-369.

3. Newall CA, Anderson LA, Phillipson JD: Herbal Medicines. A Guide for Health-care Professionals. Pharmaceutical Press, London, UK; 1996.

4. Spoerke DG, Evans B, Linaburg B: The Hidden Hazards of House and Garden Plants. Pictorial Histories Publishing Company, Missoula, MT; 1991.

5. Kingsbury JM: Poisonous Plants of the United States and Canada. Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ; 1964.

6. Lininger S (ed): The Natural Pharmacy. Prima Publishing, Rocklin, CA; 1998.

7. Fetrow CW & Avila JR: Professional's Handbook of Complementary and Alternative Medicines. Springhouse Corporation, Springhouse, PA; 1999: 235-237.


Last Updated: 6/16/2017
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