Can I Take Elderberry While Breastfeeding? Is it Safe? 

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Written by Amy Kaczor RDN

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Elderberry is known for its many potential benefits, from improving digestion to boosting your immune system and more. 

Unfortunately, there is not enough research to support the safety of elderberry for breastfeeding women. Therefore, avoid this herb in all its forms while lactating. 

This article will discuss more information about elderberry’s safety during breastfeeding, including syrups, supplements, tea, fruit, and more. Read on! 

Is Elderberry Safe When Breastfeeding? 

Overall, there is simply not enough research that has been done on the safety of elderberry for breastfeeding women and their babies (source: European Medicines Agency).

elderberry in a bottle and fresh elderberries

Due to the potential risk of toxicity from the use of elderberry in any form, it is best to just altogether avoid it while you are breastfeeding. There is no evidence to be sure that elderberry or its components does not get excreted into breastmilk or that it does not cause any adverse reaction in your breastfed baby.

Since elderberry is commonly used as a syrup or a supplement, it is important to steer clear of these products.

A popular brand of elderberry supplements in the United States is called Sambucol, which primarily markets its products as a supplement for supporting the immune system. They offer elderberry supplements such as syrup, tablets, gummies, beverage tablets, capsules, and more made from black elderberry extract.

Any form of elderberry is not known to be safe, and therefore, it is best to avoid elderberry products. For immune system support, stick with consuming immune system-boosting foods such as citrus fruits that are rich in vitamin C.

Additionally, in the United States, products that are considered dietary supplements are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for safety or effectiveness before they hit the shelves of the grocery store or health food stores.

In other words, these dietary supplements, including elderberry supplements, are not monitored until after they are already available for purchase by the general public. Therefore, it is important to speak with your physician before starting any dietary supplement while pregnant or breastfeeding.

Elderberry Combinations When Breastfeeding

It is important to note that elderberry berry often does not appear on their own in products. For example, many elderberry products also contain zinc, which also helps with boosting the immune system.

However, while the zinc can be beneficial for you while you are breastfeeding, elderberry is still not deemed to be safe for lactating women. Therefore, avoid all elderberry supplements, including those that contain zinc.

a glass of elderberry tea with fresh elderberries

What About Elderberry Tea or Fruit When Breastfeeding?

Unfortunately, elderberry tea should also be avoided while you are breastfeeding. Though it is, without a doubt, a lower amount of elderberry, the research simply does not support its safety while breastfeeding.

When looking for an herbal tea at the grocery store or health food store, make sure you are always checking the ingredients for herbs or spices that are unsafe for breastfeeding. Look for elderberry in the ingredients list to make sure you avoid that tea if it is present and opt for a different tea.

It is especially crucial to look for elderberry as an ingredient in teas that tout themselves as “Immunity Tea” or “Immune System Boosting,” as elderberry is commonly an herb used in these products. 

The same recommendation goes for the elderberry fruit itself, including those available as a fruit jam, jelly, gummy, or candy, which should also be avoided during lactation.

I hope this article was helpful in discussing elderberry and its safety while you are breastfeeding.