Black elderberry (Sambucus nigra) has been used to treat cold and flu symptoms "...present an alternative to antibiotic misuse for upper respiratory symptoms due to viral infections, and a potentially safer alternative to prescription drugs for routine cases of the common cold and influenza."
Symptoms were relieved on average 4 days earlier and use of rescue medication was significantly less in those receiving elderberry extract compared with placebo. Elderberry extract seems to offer an efficient, safe and cost-effective treatment for influenza.
Elderberry may be a safe option for treating viral respiratory illness, and there is no evidence that it overstimulates the immune system. Elderberry may not reduce the risk of developing the common cold; it may reduce the duration and severity of colds.
Travellers using elderberry from 10 days before travel until 4–5 days after arriving overseas on average experienced a 2-day shorter duration of the cold and also noticed a reduction in cold symptoms.