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Echinacea vs Elderberry for Immune System and Cold Flu

Immune boosting herbs like elderberry and echinacea spilling out of clear jars.

Echinacea and elderberry for immune system health are two extremely important ingredients to have in your supplement cabinet for daily fortification and/or when immune challenges come your way. Let’s give your lonely Vitamin C some company and explore some of the many potential health benefits that these plants can add to your life!

Whether its during the winter months when viral infections are running rampant or you are just looking for a great herb to add to your preventative strategies…these are both great options for you. Even though I hate the term “flu season” there does seem to be a time of the year here in North America when people get sick more frequently and we want to fortify ourselves against this as much as possible.

Germ theory

3 different colored germs in a line and how echinacea and elderberry can help your immune system fight germs.

A quick note on sickness seasons. I know, I know, I’m a chiropractor. Everything I write comes from a holistic perspective. But man, you can’t tell me that germs are the only cause of illnesses. There has been much research done and even just looking at historical data will prove that if germs caused disease, we would ALL be dead. Instead, consider that the environment of the host makes the germ more “comfortable” in certain bodies and it is easier to take hold and replicate. 

We want our bodies to be as inhospitable as possible to disease and illness by making our body defenses as strong as possible. Here we will talk more about 2 ways to accomplish that goal.

Echinacea purpurea and Elderberry extract

Echinacea and Elderberry are both powerful herbal remedies have been scientifically shown to increase the immune response. Let’s look at each one individually and touch on some scientific studies and benefits that may excite you.


Elderberries surrounding a jar of elderberry syrup and benefits include immune boosting properties

Elderberry is also known as sambucus nigra. Many people prefer to utilize an elderberry syrup as their dietary supplement form of this nutrient although using the fresh herb and drinking an elder flower tea are also options. The purpose of this article is to explore this plant as a means of obtaining optimum immunity but the benefits are much more broad. 


Did you know that elderberry well known for its antioxidant properties? How cool is that my friends? Aren’t we all looking for a way or dozen to decrease free radicals and their health ravaging effects? Not to mention the anti-aging benefits. Wink Wink.


The good news keeps on coming with additional anti-inflammatory properties! I LOVE this. Patients struggle as a whole with inflammation. Almost anything and everything causes inflammation. From eating at restaurants (SEE THIS ARTICLE ALA VS DHA), to not moving enough, to STRESS! 

Immune support

Buckle up! Elderberry is about to blow you away with how many amazing things it can help your body do to increase immune function.

Let’s start with this quote from a study on PubMed about the European Black Elderberry

 “The phytotherapeutic principles found in elderberry fruits give them antiviral, antibacterial and antidiabetic properties, antitumor potential, antioxidant, antidepressant and immune boosting properties, as well as a certain impacts on obesity and metabolic dysfunctions. Polyphenols and lectins give elderberry fruits the ability to inhibit coronaviruses, which is a topic of great interest in our times.”

Read the full article here

Antibacterial AND Antiviral properties

This is accomplished by the the nutrient activating the production of white blood cells as well as getting them on the move (mobilization of white blood cells) to where they will be most effective. As we know, white blood cells are imperative in a healthy immune system. They are a great way to track immune-boosting effects during clinical trials. The end result that is produced is viral replication is inhibited. This means less cold and flu symptoms and some protection of pulmonary tissues for you and your family.


Flowers, kleenex, eyedrops, and the word allergy in wood 3d letters. How can elderberry help with allergies is discussed here.

Similar to flu season, we also have allergy seasons. When those itchy eyes and runny nose start irritating you, elderberry may be something that can help if you’re looking for something outside of traditional medicine. I recommend implementing this during the initial weeks of seasonal allergies that are typical for you.

Research has shown that elderberry is rich in quercetin which helps with the inflammatory response and also has an antihistamine effect on the body. So, it may help you have healthy sinuses and decrease allergic reactions. It’s definitely gaining popularity and attention for this benefit!

If you are a person that struggles with allergies, please look into the safety of echinacea before taking it and maybe chat with a primary care doc. There have been reports of allergic reactions to it and some are serious. Also, I would like you to look into a technique called NAET which Dr. Krista introduced me to. It’s unbelievable the kind of results patients are getting with this.


echinacea flowers in the sun. pink flowers with green stems and blue sky in background

While both Echinacea and Elderberry are great for immunity, elderberry is the winner when it comes to fighting acute infections. Echinacea angustifolia or purpura however, is one of the most powerful plants on earth.

About 10 years ago, I was in a nutrition seminar and the instructor (an Australian genius that pronounced herb with a heavy H sound)  said “you can base your whole practice on one product, echinacea”. I chuckled and thought “what a strange, strange thing to say”. I just had to figure out why someone would say something so bold and so I went on a quest to figure out all of the different ways you could use this herb and WOW, I was shocked.

As I began a quick search (during the seminar no less, lol) the first article that I happened to click on had another bold quote that said echinacea is a “remedy for more ailments than any other plant”. I think you will be excited to see what all this can help you do and what an excellent support it can be for you! Come on…this will be fun!!!


Benefits of Echinacea are far reaching from new research on combating tumors to boosting immunity, to mental health, and beyond. This amazing plant can be utilized in various forms such as:

  • Echinacea extracts
  • Echinacea tinctures
  • Echinacea syrup
  • Flowery echinacea
  • Echinacea herbal tea
  • In traditional herbal medicine using raw herbal extract technology

Immune Boosting

Starting simply, there are some great research studies about decreasing the chances of catching a cold (cold episodes) by 58% and reducing the duration (if caught) by 1.5 days. See the study here.

I think we could all get our hands on some echinacea tea, now that we know our cold symptoms could see some significant reductions or not even encountered during the winter season. I mean, who doesn’t want to see the number of colds and cold duration to go down in their household? 

Interestingly enough, it helps to prevent bacterial infections as a consequence of previous viral exposure as well due to its method of activating the immune system. Double whammy in the in health concern of infection department. Really, when compared to traditional drug administration and placebo group studies, this product fairs very very well.

Antioxidant and Anti-inflammatory effects

In addition to shielding you from harmful organisms (so to speak) it also decreases the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines. See study here

Similar to elderberry, we also see that echinacea is a wonderful antioxidant and will scavenge up some free radicals that are running wild through your body. This really is such an important feature that most of us need more of. Here’s for my science lovers. Short, sweet science with LOTS of references!

​Mental Health

Happy woman with long brown hair taking supplements.

While physical health is absolutely IMPERITIVE…I believe that mental health is equally important or maybe even a bit more important. I love supplement that gives physical and mental wellness a boost and it is quite surprising to see these effects from echinacea. 

It is great for people who may suffer with: 

  • Anxiety
  • Depression

Taking up to (but not more than) 20mg per day has had many personal stories of relieve from these particular mental health issues. 

Echinacea and Elderberry are both Adaptogenic Herbs

Elderberry and Echinacea’s most beneficial side effect could be that they are both adaptogens. As you can tell by the name of this blog, I think stress is a huge issue facing our society and adaptogens are a powerful way to fight against it. I like to use the analogy of exercise (which you may have seen in some of my other posts).

SEE this stress for students post for more information.

Like you physically exercise your body by going to the gym, adaptogens are like “exercise” for your internal biochemistry. They help you adapt better when stress comes your way. 

Echinacea and Elderberry: Short vs Long Term Use

I have seen much more potent benefits with echinacea when taken over a long course of time. The benefits continue to grow the longer you take it which makes this a good reason to take it daily for several months or longer. It will help fortify you against different stressors all year round! So, if you are the type of person who can commit to taking an herbal product for the long run…you will be THRILLED with this as your choice.

If you don’t like to commit to consistency (like me, lol) then organic elderberry will be your friend. The short term benefits are great for your immune cells when you have specific needs you want to address.

Echinacea and Elderberry are both Powerful!

As you can see, both of echinacea and elderberry are amazing products that will help you maintain a healthy body, experience fewer viruses, and have very few potential side effects. They can be used as a general health tonic by helping you to adapt to environmental changes and stress. Either one would make a great addition to your nutrition routine. 

When choosing products to add into your routine, there are SO many options that it can be difficult to choose. Obviously, if you have specific health challenges please discuss this with a healthcare provider that is qualified to address your unique needs (ie: pregnant women). 

If you are wanting some guidance on how to maintain and maybe achieve a new level of wellness, I think it is important to choose things that offer an array of benefits. That way you aren’t taking handfuls of pills multiple times per day all for different reasons. 

Also, choose organic and reputable brands that will offer a highly concentrated amount of beneficial compounds. Also, make sure to maintain proper hydration when adding in new ingredients that you haven’t tried before. 

I hope you have discovered many new benefits of echinacea and elderberry today. So go grab a little water and take some herbs!


It’s my sincere hope that you found something here that helped you and decreased your stress levels slightly! Please let me know how I can help you further along your journey. And, please subscribe to my email list if you would like more content like this. I would also LOVE it if you would share this with someone that you think would benefit from it. 

I’m so proud of you for seeking out answers and getting better than you were yesterday! Talk to you soon. 

Dr. Bri


The entire contents of this website are based upon the opinions of Dr. Bri, unless otherwise noted. Individual articles are based upon the opinions of the respective author, who retains copyright as marked.

The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of knowledge and information from the research and experience of its authors. We encourage you to make your own health care decisions based upon your research and in partnership with a qualified health care professional. 

If you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition, consult your health care professional before using products based on this content.

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