Elderberry is a wonderful herb loaded with good for you benefits. However, as a breastfeeding mom, you need to scrutinize everything to determine whether it's not just safe for you, but safe for your baby as well.
Elderberry syrup is a favorite in our house. In fact, I make a few batches during the cold seasons to keep on hand.
You never know whos going to bring home a bug, which will then run rampant through the household.
This is especially nerve wracking when you've got a baby.
So, today, we are going to analyze elderberry syrup, if it's safe to take during pregnancy and what the literature says!
I am giving my opinion and personal experience only and presenting facts found in published articles.
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Is Elderberry Safe While Breastfeeding?
There is not a lot of research done on the safety of elderberry during breastfeeding.
In general, there is a lack of research on the safety of most foods and herbs during breastfeeding.
Here are the things to take into consideration when deciding which herbs are safe and which to avoid while breastfeeding:
- What is the evidence out there? (such as research studies)
- Has there been any evidence to show harm?
- Do trusted natural medicine doctors or herbalists advise the use during breastfeeding?
A lot medical professionals advise against the use of any herbs while breastfeeding if there are no studies to show that it is safe.
It's a standard for herbs, supplements and drugs to be labeled "not safe for breastfeeding women" when there isn't any proof or research that states it's safe.
This doesn't necessarily mean that it is not safe. It just hasn't been proven to be safe.
However, I do find that there are other agencies that are very reputable and should be taken into consideration.
For example, The American Botanical Council's Guide: The ABC Clinical Guide to Elderberry states...
"Although elder berry has been safely consumed in the diet of some cultures, at least one source suggests that elder berry should not be used when pregnant or lactating due to insufficient clinical data and potential risk of toxicity.
However, there are no data suggesting that elder berry preparations would have an adverse effect on pregnancy or on nursing infants."
Overall, many traditional herbalists considered it safe to consume elderberry while nursing as long as you follow the general safety guidelines for using elderberry in general.
The Saftey Guidelines for Elderberry:
- Elderberries must be cooked prior to consuming (raw berries can carry toxic properties that are nonexistent after cooking.)
- Elderberry syrup shouldn't be given to babies, as it often contains honey
Not giving the elderberry syrup to babies is due to the honey. This is because babies under 1 year shouldn't be given honey due to the increased risk of getting botulism.
Benefits of Elderberry
Traditionally, the Benefits of Elderberry include boosting the immune system and promoting wellness, especially during the cold season.
One study performed a clinical trial with people traveling by plane. Half of the participants took elderberry extract.
Those who took the extract had a shorter duration of "cold episode days" and the average symptom were less severe.
They stated that their data suggests “a significant reduction of cold duration and severity in air travelers.”
Basically, this study is suggesting that those who took the elderberry got less sick.
You can find out loads more benefits in this video.
So is Elderberry Syrup Safe for Nursing Moms??
Simply put, the lack of research makes this a personal decision.
I personally, keep a batch of elderberry syrup in my fridge at all times in case anyone starts coughing or sneezing.
As a breastfeeding mom, I take elderberry syrup regularly when someone is sick in our house, to keep my baby and I healthy.
I purposely take elderberry syrup while nursing it in hopes that the properties not only keep me healthy and sick-free, but that the beneficial properties will also be transferred to my baby through my breastmilk.
So, while I cannot say that it's definitely safe for breastfeeding mothers to take elderberry syrup (or other forms of the herb) I can say that I am confident that it is safe for me and my baby.
If I do feel like I may be getting sick, I also stick to taking a large spoonful of this elderberry syrup recipe every two or three hours until I feel better.
You can also get some awesome premade elderberry gummies.
I cannot recommend that you take the herb to boost your immune system. There is no research that deems it safe or unsafe.
I can say that I will continue taking elderberry syrup regularly during cold and flu season.
That I also give the syrup regularly to my toddlers at the first sign of the cold or flu, and that they rarely get sick (and if they do, it never lasts long.)
How to Use Elderberry While Breastfeeding
So if you've decided that you do want to take elderberry syrup, I don't recommend taking on a daily basis just because.
Instead, I recommend taking it when someone in the household is showing early signs of a virus or infection.
If your baby is sick, taking a teaspoon or so of elderberry every hour or two can help transfer some of the beneficial properties over to your baby.
If your sick, you can also take the elderberry syrup to boost your immune system, and help to (hopefully) prevent your baby from catching your virus.
Some moms are scared to breastfeeding their baby while sick. They are worried they will somehow pass their infection to their baby.
However, the opposite is true! In fact, breastfeeding often can help pass signals and immunities to your baby through your breastmilk.
So breastfeed often, knowing you'll be helping each other's immune systems. Just make sure to drink lots of water to help keep up your supply and to avoid dehydration.
Disclaimer: Most herbal treatments have not been thoroughly researched, particularly in regard to breastfeeding safety. Herbs can be considered drugs, and some caution is necessary. I am presenting this data as is, without any warranty of any kind, express or implied, and are not liable for its accuracy or for any loss or damage caused by a user’s reliance on this information.