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February 2015 Issue

Safety Concerns Addressed for Elderberry and Kombucha

Elderberry has been treasured for centuries as traditional medicine to treat skin conditions and respiratory illnesses, such as colds and flu. However, unripe elderberries and other parts of the elder tree, such as the fresh leaves, flowers, young buds, and roots, should not be eaten as they contain a bitter alkaloid and a glucoside that can be toxic, resulting in nausea and vomiting, and, potentially, more serious side effects. The ripe blue or purple berries are edible (cooking is highly recommended) and are often used in pies, jams, or wine.

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