Elderberry syrup

Katarina Mollo MEd, RDN, LDN
Q: Is it safe to take an elderberry syrup supplement when you have celiac disease?

Answer


Elderberry strengthens the immune system which could potentially be a problem for people with autoimmune diseases such as celiac disease. Always ask your doctor before using any supplements that stimulate the immune system because there is a risk that it might trigger your autoimmune symptoms. Although there is not a lot of research available on immunostimulants and autoimmune disease, immunostimulatory herbs have been found to modulate cytokines. (1) Cytokines regulate things such as immunity and inflammation. A study also found that immunostimulatory herbs can increase autoimmune response in those with autoimmune disorders and even induce autoimmune disease in genetically predisposed individuals. (2)

In addition to talking with your doctor, always check that any supplement you take is gluten-free. Elderberry itself is naturally gluten-free, but other ingredients may have been added. Only use supplements that are labeled gluten-free. Products that are labeled gluten-free are required to adhere to the FDA requirement of containing less than 20 ppm of gluten. To find out how to research supplements for gluten-free status check here:

https://nationalceliac.org/celiac-disease-questions/checking-if-supplements-are-gluten-free/

References:

  1. Spelman K, Burns J, Nichols D, Winters N, Ottersberg S, Tenborg M. Modulation of cytokine expression by traditional medicines: a review of herbal immunomodulators. Altern Med Rev. 2006 Jun;11(2):128-50. Review. PubMed PMID: 16813462. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16813462
  2. Lee AN, Werth VP. Activation of Autoimmunity Following Use of Immunostimulatory Herbal Supplements. Arch Dermatol.2004;140(6):723–727. doi:10.1001/archderm.140.6.723 https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamadermatology/fullarticle/480602

Note: This information is provided by NCA and Katarina Mollo MEd, RDN, LDN, NCA's Director of Education. This information is meant for educational purposes only and is not intended to substitute for personalized medical advice or replace any medical advice provided directly to you by your health care provider. No liability is assumed by the NCA or Katarina Mollo, MEd, RDN, LDN by providing this information.

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