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Elderberry POISONING???

AziahAziah Raw Newbie

I made a recipe from Pat Crockers smoothie book today that requires elderberries...something like 1/2 cup. I didn't have fresh so I used a couple tablespoons of dried. I drank most of it then gave a small glass to my 4yo who isn't feeling well (figuring it would help with the cold/flu season). 45 min later we were both vomiting. Both of us twice so far, and not to be TMI but it was a LOT.

I am reading more online and most of the websites say elderberries are safe and only a couple mention nausea/vomiting as a side effect - a result of cyanide poisoning from eating raw berries. But Crockers book called for raw anyway.

Has anyone experienced this? Is it normal? Will it pass? I feel like I could get sick a couple more times tonite...I hope my daughter is done. I don't want to go to the ER.


  • ajcajc Raw Newbie

    I think dried stuff is lots stronger than fresh,could be wrong.

    Hope you are both feeling better soon.

  • Raw CurlsRaw Curls Raw Newbie

    What else was in the smoothie? I hope you guys feel better soon. I hope you are able to keep your child hydrated! Sometimes it's hard to keep anything down in that state.

  • AziahAziah Raw Newbie

    The vomiting stopped for both of us after 5 hours and I had really bad diarrhea (again, sorry tmi) that continues today. But I would say we are definately on the mend. Lesson learned! So for all of you...DON'T EAT RAW ELDERBERRIES! Trust me...it is a hard lesson to learn.

  • corecriescorecries Raw Newbie

    I spent some months in spain recently and ate elderberries from the tree, I became nauseous the first time I ate these and did some research. It turns out there are different kinds of elderberries and some varieties can be toxic.

    If its not the cyanide in the berry, maybe it is the oxides?

    They are pretty strong from the taste of the fresh berries and you cant eat too much or your mouth suffers (similar to pineapple)

    It might be that you get used to it, I ate several times after the first experience (they are sooo tasty) and diidnt have any reaction, but I did control myself and reduce the intake.

    Clipped from The GardenWeb Googlesearch :elderberry toxic

    RE: elderberry- sambucus mexicana clip this post email this post what is this?

    see most clipped and recent clippings

    Posted by Robert_in_MT z4 nw MT (My Page) on Wed, Apr 13, 05 at 12:10

    All elderberries have some toxic chemicals in them, if you eat them raw. sambucus mexicana is the worst, do a search on CA ag website and you will come across reported deaths from this plant. sambucus can. (american elder) and sambucus nigra (black elder) are much less toxic and are the one's to use for wine and eating just cook them first.

    the leaves contain a chemical that produces cyanide after digestion, so I would guess it's use as an insecticide would be limited at best.


  • AziahAziah Raw Newbie

    You know I got them from the bulk section at the health food store and all they said was "dried organic elder berries".

    But it definately was a reaction and not just a detox thing. I won't go into too much details but lets just say it was the worst experience I have ever had and I am glad it only lasted as long as it did rather than go on for days.

    Whether it was an allergic reaction or a cyanide reaction I don't know (my guess is cyanide based on what I researced on the computer) but either way...be careful to anyone else who might try these. I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy.

  • AziahAziah Raw Newbie

    Also...in my afterthought research I read that cooking or seeping the berries neutralizes the cyanide. FYI

  • This happened to me today! I was making smoothies for myself and my three boys (ages 8, 6, and 3) and decided to add a handful of dried elderberries because my oldest two have colds. I only drank about 8 oz. worth and felt very nauseous within half an hour or so. An hour after that, I threw up and felt much better. My 6 year old drank about 10 oz. of smoothie and he threw up about an hour after I did, and then immediately fell asleep. When he woke up he ate toast and seems to feel normal. My other two boys drank about 5 oz. and 12 oz., respectively, but so far they don't seem affected. I just ate lunch and feel fine now (it was about five hours ago that I first threw up). I, too, got my berries from the health food store in the bulk section. I suppose I should have done my research, but it would help if there was a warning label on them specifying that they ought to be cooked before consumption. I suppose most people use them to make teas and tinctures, and the poison is cooked out. So far my experience seems much milder than yours, Aziah, probably because I drank so little. I guess I'll toss the other 24 oz. out--what a waste. Ah well. You live and learn, eh? Glad I found your post! (And I hope the diarrhea will be light or nonexistent!)

  • brandipbrandip Raw Newbie

    The seeds, stems, leaves and roots of theElderberries are all poisonous to humans. They contain a cyanide-inducing glycoside. Eating a sufficient quantity of these cyanide-inducing glycosides can cause a toxic buildup of cyanide in the body and make you quite ill. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and even coma. Most people recover quickly, although hospitalization may be required. The fruit of the elderberry is a tiny berry, about 1/8 to ¼ inch in diameter, and about 50% of the berry is seed. Cooking the berries destroys the glycosides present in the seeds, making the berries with their seeds safe to eat. As such, the fruit of the Black Elderberry should always be cooked before consumption. Interestingly, research indicates that exposing elderberry to heat actually concentrates the polyphenols and anthocyanin's.

  • ClaireTClaireT Raw Master

    I used to eat them by the handful. I must have gotten lucky with a less potent variety. 

    I'm glad you started feeling better! 

  • jennifers1493jennifers1493 Raw Newbie

    Elderberries are poisoned, until cooked.  Even the dried berries are toxic.  That's why you and your child got so sick.  I just made my first ever batch of elderberry syrup so that I can boost my children's immune systems at a much lower cost than it would be with store bought.  Next time, cook them for 30 to 60 minutes with water.  There are lots of recipes online. 

  • WheatgrassWheatgrass Raw Jr. Superstar

    Elderberry is “poisonous”, the toxic quality of it can trigger cleansing...but when used outside of a regulated cleanse, be careful.  It would be considered a “tonic”, not “food”...

  • juliekjuliek Raw Newbie

    Oh dear Lord! I am glad to be Alive! I had a horrendous experience drinking an elderberry drink at if you can even believe it a place in Los Angeles called ELDERBERRIES!! Here’s the review I left them which will tell my story and yes to reiterate what has been said here already DO NOT EAT RAW OR DRIED ELDERBERRIES EVER. I experienced the cyanide poisoning that the OP has and it was such a scary horrendous moment. I am truly lucky I didn’t have to get hospitalized.

    my 1 star rating: 

    I actually love this place BUT the 1 star rating is because I almost had to go to the emergency hospital due to drinking a RAW ELDERBERRY iced lemonade drink served here. This incident happened a few years ago but I’ve been meaning to share my story. This raw elderberry iced drink SHOULD NOT be sold here and I’m not sure if it still is.


    COOKED elderberries are fine and AMAZING for health but I repeat DO NOT EAT RAW!

    When I was going through the horrendous experience a quick google search led me to this knowledge and not only was I frightened thinking what will happen next but also very UPSET that this drink was even on the menu!

    If you call your business ELDERBERRIES then you should have all knowledge and awareness about this plant!

    After my toxic experience which made me very sick I called Elderberries and the response was very nonchalant from the guy I spoke to. I definitely felt like I wasn’t being heard or perhaps even believed that I got sick.

    Since my incident there have been more stories I have heard about of people getting sick from raw elderberries. On the other hand I give myself and my toddler elderberry syrup WHICH HAS BEEN cooked so it is safe and quite beneficial.

    SO BE AWARE OF RAW AND DRIED ELDERBERRIES AND DO NOT CONSUME ANY FORM OF THIS PLANT INCLUDING THE STEMS, LEAVES, ETC. Your pets can die as well so if consumed by your pet you must treat the situation as an emergency.


    Love and Light!

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