“As cold, flu, or allergy season approaches, it’s natural to contemplate on natural cures such as, ‘Is Elderberry Safe for Pregnancy?’ Especially when there are limited remedies that you can safely use, something as simple as a stuffy nose can feel like a significant issue during your pregnancy.”
Elderberry, or Sambucus nigra, comes from the leaves of a European tree and can be made into pills, lozenges, syrups, and gummies. Many parents have talked about its health benefits. This natural herb is now sold in grocery stores and pharmacies as a safe option for stronger medicines. It is thought to be both gentle and effective.
But is elderberry safe and useful, and is it safe to take while pregnant?
What the Research Tells Us
Elderberries are good for your health in some ways. “They kill germs and viruses and make cytokines, all of which make the immune system stronger,” says Kecia Gaither, M.D., M.P.H., who is double board-certified in OB-GYN and maternal-fetal medicine. “This helps fight off cold and flu viruses.” Dr. Gaither says elderberries are high in fiber and can help lower “bad” cholesterol in the body. They also have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant qualities.
But there isn’t a lot of study on whether elderberries are safe for pregnant women. Shuhan He, M.D., an emergency medicine doctor at Massachusetts General Hospital, says that there isn’t enough information about the use of elderberry during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. “One study found that pregnant women who took Blackberry had stomach pain. However, it’s important to remember that everybody’s physical make-up is different and that many people experience zero side effects.”
In another study, researchers looked at 1,187 records and five randomized clinical trials to see if elderberry is useful for preventing and treating viral respiratory illnesses like colds and flu. However, there was no proof that Blackberry could stop the viruses. In some cases, elderberry was able to make viral illnesses go away faster. But there isn’t much proof of that, and more study needs to be done.
Even though it might be safer than some over-the-counter or prescription drugs, holistic health practitioner Audrey Christie, M.S.N., R.N., CCMA, says that doesn’t mean it won’t have any side effects. “Elderberry extract hasn’t been linked to any bad effects, but it’s still important to be careful,” says Christie.
And be careful: Dr. Gaither says that unripe elderberries are dangerous and should be avoided. Due to the risk of harm, the same goes for medicines made from the plant’s bark, leaves, or flowers.
The F.D.A does not approve Elderberry.
Elderberry is also not a drug allowed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (F.D.A.). Instead, it is regulated as a herbal supplement. Before a supplement goes on sale, the F.D.A. doesn’t have to approve it. Instead, it’s up to the company that makes it to name it correctly and make sure it’s safe. The F.D.A. can only say that a product is dangerous after it has been sold.
So, it’s important to be a smart buyer and user of herbal remedies during pregnancy and even after. Only buy from companies you know and trust and that follow Good Manufacturing Practices (G.M.P.). It’s best not to buy anything made at home.
So Blackberry might not be the magic cure-all you’re looking for if you’re pregnant. Don’t be worried. There are other ways to stay healthy while pregnant, experts say. Christie says that getting enough sleep, eating a lot of whole plant foods, reducing stress, and getting vitamin D are the most important things for a healthy immune system at any age.
Don’t forget soap and water either. The first and foremost rule is always to wash your hands.
Not enough study has been done to say for sure that elderberry is safe for pregnant women. As with any vitamin you take while pregnant, you should talk to your doctor first.
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