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Can I Take Elderberry While Breastfeeding? (Benefits and Risk Analysis)

Breastfeeding mothers commonly question the safety of consuming elderberry while breastfeeding. This confusion is well-founded, because there is a lack of scientific consensus proving that elderberry is definitively safe or harmful for breastfeeding mothers and babies. Elderberry is a naturopathic staple in traditional medicine to combat virus symptoms, and is frequently found in supplements and herbal remedies and teas. However, this common usage does not necessarily mean that Elderberry is beneficial while breastfeeding, or even that there’s no chance of harm.

Is elderberry safe for nursing mothers?

There is a lack of consensus around elderberry’s usage in directly combatting viruses like the flu or COVID-19. Moreover, there are few studies concluding whether elderberry makes its way into breast milk or not. Doctors and herbalists do know that overconsumption of raw elderberries can lead to stomach upsets and cyanide poisoning. However, proper preparation of elderberry (usually through heating) removes these dangerous cyanide precursors and thus makes it benign to consume for healthy adults. Additionally, there is evidence to suggest the beneficial nature of processed elderberry. For example, elderberries are packed with anthocyanins, which help with brain development, increase blood flow and improve digestion. Moreover, there are no reports of processed elderberry harming children and infants.

Consuming elderberry in all but its raw form is generally considered safe for breastfeeding mothers. All evidence suggests that drinking elderberry tea or taking elderberry lozenges is not harmful to you or your nursing baby because the harmful cyanide precursors have been processed out. However, due to the lack of definitive scientific consensus, your best bet is to consult with your physician before taking herbal remedies that include elderberry while breastfeeding. Below, we cover the relative safety and risks of consuming elderberry while breastfeeding to the best of our knowledge.

What does elderberry do for breastfeeding?

On paper, elderberry does a lot for breastfeeding mothers. Processed elderberry is traditionally used as an immune booster, intended to help mothers to fight off illnesses and have more energy. How true this is is still a matter of scientific debate. However, it is a fact that elderberries are packed with powerful antioxidants and nutrients. One cup of elderberries provides you with 87% of your vitamin C, 10 grams of fiber, and only 100 calories.

What are the side effects of elderberry when breastfeeding?

Cyanide poisoning is the main side effect of excess consuming raw elderberry when breastfeeding. Eating raw elderberries releases trace amounts of cyanide into the bloodstream. When eaten in sufficient quantities, this results in cyanide poisoning. However, there are few side effects to taking cooked or prepared elderberry while breastfeeding.

What does elderberry do for babies while breastfeeding?

There is no conclusive data that suggests elderberry does anything for babies while breastfeeding. Traditionally, elderberry is used to treat viruses, like the flu, and helps boost the immune system, but no one knows if these benefits pass on to your baby via breast milk. There is no research studies to indicate that elderberry passes through breastmilk. Conversely, there are also no studies that claim it doesn’t. However, because we don’t know if your baby will get Elderberry benefits via nursing, it’s best not to rely on this home remedy. Instead, let viruses run their course and boost your baby’s immune system by eating a healthy diet with fruits and vegetables.

Does elderberry help babies with colds?

No, it is not believed that elderberry helps babies with colds. Elderberry has long been touted as a home remedy for colds and flu, but healthcare professionals are still determining if it helps babies. A 2016 study published by the National Library of Medicine offered positive results on the impact of elderberry supplementation and its impact on cold duration in adults.  The study was a blind study, meaning the participants did not know whether they were taking an elderberry supplement or a placebo. The study found that taking elderberry reduces symptoms of viral infections, such as the flu. Additionally, elderberry consumption helps dry up mucus when suffering from a cold.

However, little evidence suggests babies or young children see the same benefits of taking elderberry. Thus, an elderberry home remedy isn’t recommended for children under 2-3 years old until it has been studied further. Instead, ensure that your breastfed baby gets plenty of antioxidants and vitamin C through your diet. 

Below are eight foods that are high in antioxidants to help boost the immune system.

  • Blueberries
  • Red Cabbage
  • Oranges
  • Strawberries
  • Kale
  • Green tea
  • Beans
  • Artichokes

A diet that includes variety will ensure you receive all of the vitamins and nutrients your baby needs to fight a cold.

Can pregnant women have elderberry?

Yes, pregnant women can have elderberry. However, they should always check with their midwife or doctor first. Herbalists often recommend elderberry to pregnant women as long as they have not experienced adverse side effects before being pregnant. It’s important to remember that elderberry must be properly cooked if taken raw.

Below are the three steps you must follow to cook elderberries:

  1. Put them in a stainless steel pot full of water.
  2. Bring the water to a boil, then turn down the heat to a medium-high, so the water is at a low boil.
  3. Boil this fruit for twenty minutes. If you do not boil them long enough, elderberries cause severe side effects, including vomiting and nausea.

Remember, there are no scientific studies to identify whether elderberry is safe during pregnancy. We do not know if it crosses through the placenta to the fetus. Because of that, always discuss whether taking this herbal remedy is safe with your doctor or midwife before taking it.

When should you not take elderberry?

Many doctors recommend not taking elderberry of any form during pregnancy and breastfeeding because no studies indicate its safety. Scientists and researchers do not know if it passes through the placenta to the developing fetus or into breast milk. Because of that, most doctors advise that moms and soon-to-be moms err on the side of caution.

Elderberry is also known to interact with almost thirty other medications, including those necessary after an organ transplant. If you are taking any medications, including over-the-counter medicines, speak with a doctor or pharmacist before taking elderberry.

Why should you not take elderberry every day while breastfeeding?

You should not take elderberry every day while breastfeeding due to the slew of potential adverse effects. It’s easy to accidentally take too much elderberry because so many different elderberry products are on the market. When you accidentally take too much, you can experience stomach upset, vomiting, diarrhoea, and other stomach problems, like cramps.

Who should not consume elderberry?

Many doctors recommend that pregnant and breastfeeding women not take elderberry because no studies indicate it is safe. However, there are also no studies to state that it’s unsafe..

For the same reason, most doctors recommend against giving elderberry to children under five. There are no scientific studies to indicate whether it is safe or unsafe.

People with autoimmune diseases should avoid elderberry, even if they are feeling under the weather. Autoimmune diseases like Celiac disease kick the immune system into overdrive. If someone with an autoimmune disease takes supplements or herbal remedies to boost their immune system, it goes too far into overdrive, resulting in unpleasant side effects. Taking elderberry with an autoimmune disease often makes the symptoms of the disease worse. For example, if you have psoriasis, you may notice that your skin is breaking out with new psoriasis patches if you take a supplement to boost your immune system. This is especially true if taking immunosuppressants to deal with the disease.

Anyone that has a medical condition, such as diabetes, or is taking medication should speak with their physician before taking elderberry. Elderberry also impacts the effectiveness of certain medications.

Can a newborn take elderberry?

No, a newborn cannot take elderberry. This includes elderberry tea, syrup, and any other form of elderberry. Although limited research supports that elderberry helps treat colds and viruses, there is no research on how this herbal remedy will impact a newborn.

Can a 2-month-old have elderberry?

No, a 2-month-old cannot have elderberry. Due to the lack of research on elderberry and children, it’s better to be safe than sorry. If you take elderberry while breastfeeding, there’s a chance that trace amounts pass into your breast milk. However, these amounts are so small that they are unlikely to harm your baby. There are multiple reports of breastfeeding women taking elderberry without experiencing adverse effects on themselves or their babies. Herbalists often recommend elderberry to breastfeeding women. However, they draw the line at giving it to babies.

Does elderberry help if you are already sick and breastfeeding?

Yes, elderberry helps if you are already sick and breastfeeding. Elderberry is packed with antioxidants to give the body the boost it needs to fight off viruses, including the flu and the common cold. Elderberry helps symptoms improve and lessens the time that you are sick. Taking elderberry when you’re already sick and breastfeeding should lessen the total time you are feeling sick, compared to if you did not take elderberry.

Does elderberry dry up mucus?

Yes, whether directly or indirectly, elderberry is often claimed to help dry up mucus. Elderberry is touted by many as a magic elixir for drying up mucus resulting from colds, viruses, and even allergies because of its ability to help with the symptoms, including eliminating excess mucus. It doesn’t matter what condition the mucus is from; elderberry will help clear up congestion helping you to breathe more easily.

Are breastfeeding babies at risk of elderberry cyanide poisoning?

No, breastfed babies are not at risk of elderberry cyanide poisoning. There are few people that are. Elderberries are cooked before being eaten. If they are not cooked long enough, they release cyanide. When a person purchases an elderberry supplement, such as lozenges, syrup, or over-the-counter remedies that contain elderberry, the elderberries are correctly prepared before being added to the product.

Can you take elderberry supplements while breastfeeding?

Yes, you can take elderberry supplements while breastfeeding. It’s important to remember that elderberry acts like medicine in your body, so take the smallest dosage possible to get the desired results. The recommended dosage is 150-300 mg, however consider starting with 100 mg. Then, increase the dosage by a small amount daily to find relief. Remember, when it comes to medicine and herbal remedies while breastfeeding, you want to take the least amount possible.

Can I have elderberry syrup while breastfeeding?

Yes, you can have elderberry syrup while breastfeeding. If making your own elderberry syrup, ensure that the berries are boiled for at least 20 minutes to prevent cyanide poisoning. If you are buying over-the-counter syrup, start with one teaspoon daily. It’s recommended that you follow the directions on the bottle. Remember not to take more than you need and that high dosages are not recommended for daily use.

Is elderberry juice harmful while breastfeeding?

No, elderberry juice is not known to be harmful while breastfeeding. It often has a lower concentration of elderberry when compared to elderberry syrup. One eight-ounce glass of elderberry juice per day is considered safe. Slowly increase your intake if you do not see an improvement in symptoms.

Different brands offer different concentrations of elderberry. When drinking elderberry juice, it’s critical to read the bottle to determine how much is in each juice serving.

Can I drink elderberry tea while breastfeeding?

Yes, you can drink elderberry tea while breastfeeding. Elderberry tea has a slightly tart taste. Adding honey to make it sweeter is a great way to pack more antioxidants into your herbal tea.

When purchasing elderberry tea, read the ingredient list. Most herbal teas contain more than one ingredient. When drinking herbal tea, carefully research herbs to avoid while breastfeeding to ensure no harm comes to your baby.

Below are five common herbs to avoid while breastfeeding:

  • Peppermint: Consuming large quantities of peppermint while breastfeeding is linked to a decreased milk supply. Therefore, lactating mothers are advised to avoid peppermint completely.
  • Parsley: Parsley is classed as an anti-galactagogue, which means there are links tying parsley consumption to decreased milk supply. Parsley is not otherwise harmful, and is useful to mothers who are specifically trying to reduce their milk supply.
  • Lemon balm: Lemon balm is considered by many to cause milk supply reduction. No official studies support this; however, avoiding lemon balm remains strongly recommended. 
  • Black Walnut: Black walnut bark is not recommended for breastfeeding mothers, and while further research is ongoing, doctors recommend avoiding the black walnut fruit altogether
  • Chickweed: Medical professionals recommend avoiding consuming chickweed while pregnant and breastfeeding as there are no concrete reports regarding its safety. 

Is it safe to take elderberry and zinc while breastfeeding?

Yes, it’s considered safe by most moms and herbalists to take elderberry while breastfeeding. Elderberry is found in supplements, gummies, lozenges, tea, or syrup. However, read the bottle and discuss taking herbal remedies with your practitioner before taking them.

Breastfeeding moms need to get the recommended daily intake of 12-13 mg of zinc. Zinc helps develop the senses of taste and smell and encourages development and growth. This mineral is critical for the immune system to function correctly. Most practitioners encourage breastfeeding women to get their daily zinc intake via healthy foods.

Below are six great zinc-rich foods.

  • Oysters: Oysters are an incredibly zinc-rich food, boasting 74 mg per 3 ounces.
  • Beef chuck roast: Beef chuck roast has an impressive 8 mg of zinc per 3 ounces.
  • Alaskan crab: Alaskan crab meat boasts an impressive 6.4 mg per 3 ounces.
  • Pork chops: Pork chops contain around 2 mg of zinc per 4 ounces.
  • Oats: Oats boast around 1.5 mg of zinc per half cup.
  • Tofu: Tofu offers 1.8 mg of zinc per 4 ounces consumed.

Taking supplements is fine if you’re struggling to get your daily zinc intake through a healthy diet. Discuss taking elderberry and zinc supplements with your healthcare provider before you purchase them.

Are there benefits of taking elderberry and echinacea while breastfeeding?

Yes, there are several benefits of taking elderberry and echinacea while breastfeeding. Elderberry helps lessen the symptoms of a cold or virus and clear up congestion. Elderberry promotes heart health and gives your immune system a boost. However, whether elderberry passes to your baby through breastmilk is unknown, so we can’t say whether your little one will get the same benefits if you take elderberry while breastfeeding.

Echinacea is another common herbal remedy to fight colds and viruses. It boosts the immune system like elderberry, is packed with powerful antioxidants, lowers blood sugar, and reduces stress levels. This beautiful purple flower has a soothing effect that all new moms will love.

A 2006 study for the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development revealed that echinacea is passed into breast milk. It stays in breast milk for 1-4 hours after consuming it. That means that the same benefits may be passed on to your baby.

Please note that there are also some side effects reported in infants whose mothers consume echinacea while nursing. These include stomach upset, diarrhea, and a rash. Stop taking this herbal remedy while breastfeeding if you notice any of these symptoms.

Can I take elderberry gummies while breastfeeding

Yes, elderberry gummies are safe while breastfeeding. Ensure that you read the bottle and don’t take more than the recommended 300 mg, especially if you’re not ill. Take a larger dosage if you are taking elderberry to fight an illness. Speak with an herbal specialist to determine a safe dosage to take while breastfeeding. Remember that taking larger dosages is not recommended long-term.

Can you take elderberry medications while breastfeeding?

Taking elderberry medications while breastfeeding is considered safe by moms and herbalists but not recommended by doctors. Many professionals discourage the use of elderberry while nursing because there is no scientific evidence to support that it’s safe. However, there have been zero studies conducted on breastfeeding mothers to determine whether it is passed through breast milk and is safe.

Because of the positive outcomes that many breastfeeding mothers report, it is considered safe by nursing mothers. If you are concerned about taking elderberry, consult with a licensed practitioner before using it to be on the safe side.

Are elderberry lozenges ok while breastfeeding?

Yes, elderberry lozenges, while breastfeeding, are generally considered safe to use. When taking elderberry lozenges, read the package carefully to determine how much elderberry is in each lozenge. Limit your elderberry intake to 150-300 mg per day.

What cough drops are safe while breastfeeding

Most cough drops are safe while breastfeeding, but knowing what to take and what to avoid is critical. Elderberry lozenges are frequently used by breastfeeding mothers with a cold, and we consider them safe in small amounts, as too are Halls, Vicks, and Ricola cough drops. 

Most menthol cough drops are considered safe for nursing mothers, but it’s critical not to overdo it. Menthol comes from the same family as peppermint, so it decreases your milk supply if you take it in large doses. If you notice a decrease in your milk supply, opt for non-menthol cough drops instead.

Can I take Sambucol black elderberry while breastfeeding?

Sambucol black elderberry is often referred to as elderberry and is considered safe to take in minor to moderate doses while breastfeeding. Sambucol black elderberry is taken via juice, elderberry syrup, tea, or lozenges. It’s critical to remember that there are no scientific studies on breastfeeding women taking black elderberry while breastfeeding. Consult your doctor or herbalist before taking home remedies while nursing.

Can I take Cold Eeze while breastfeeding?

Yes, you can take Cold Eeze while breastfeeding. When deciding if it’s safe to take Cold Eeze while breastfeeding, it’s essential to look at all ingredients and determine if they are safe while nursing. Cold Eeze contains avena sativa, zinc gluconate, samucus nigra, echinacea, rose hips, and licorice root.

There are no scientific studies to determine if licorice root is safe while breastfeeding. However, you’ve got the green light on the rest of these cold-fighting ingredients. Most recommend taking Cold Eeze to deal with a cold while breastfeeding because it’s a potent combination of herbal ingredients that are superior at fighting colds.

Can I take Zarbee’s while breastfeeding?

Yes, you can take Zarbee’s while breastfeeding. The company gets asked this so much they posted an answer to their Facebook page. According to Zarbee’s, “One of the most frequently asked questions we receive is if ZarBee’s is safe for pregnant or nursing mothers. ZarBee’s is perfectly safe. It doesn’t contain drugs or alcohol known to be unsafe for pregnant or nursing moms.”

Remember that Zarbee’s does contain elderberry, which has no scientific evidence to state whether it’s safe. A comprehensive list of ingredients is available on Zarbee’s website, all of which are considered safe for breastfeeding.

Can I take elderberry cold and flu while breastfeeding?

Yes, generally, you can take elderberry cold and flu while breastfeeding. Elderberry cold and flu may have higher concentrations of elderberry, so do not take it for long periods. Carefully read the packaging, and do not take more than the recommended dosage.

Can I drink Emergen C while breastfeeding?

Yes, Emergen C is safe to take while breastfeeding. This supplement contains vitamins and nutrients your body needs, like Vitamin C, zinc, B-6, B-12, and B-9. Emergen C includes 1000 mg of Vitamin C. It’s much higher than your daily requirement, but this is to help your body fight colds and illnesses and is considered safe for breastfeeding women. However, remember that no scientific studies have been conducted on breastfeeding women and Emergen C.

Can you have Airborne while breastfeeding?

Yes, Airborne is safe to have while breastfeeding. This is determined by looking at the individual ingredients. Airborne is a powerhouse of vitamins and nutrients, including Vitamin C and Zinc, that are safe for breastfeeding mothers.

The controversial opinion on taking Airborne while breastfeeding is because it also contains several herbs as active ingredients, such as echinacea, ginger, and forsythia, as well as others. There is no research to support breastfeeding mothers taking these because there have not been any scientific studies to determine their safety. Threads online from places like Reddit and Quora are packed with breastfeeding women who have safely taken Airborne with zero adverse effects on themselves or their babies.