February 7, 2023 - Investigation Closed, Lawsuits Filed
Thanks to everyone who reached out to help the investigation into elderberry supplements. The investigation has been closed; however, at least two lawsuits have been filed and are still ongoing. Those lawsuits involve the PharmaCare and Dakota Nutrition elderberry products, respectively.
You typically won't need to do anything to join a class action as it moves through the court system - you can read up on how that works here.
If you have any questions about your legal rights or what options you have regarding your specific situation, we would encourage you to speak with an attorney. You can read up on how to find a class action attorney on this page.
People who purchased certain elderberry supplements.
What’s Going On?
Attorneys working with ClassAction.org are investigating whether certain supplement makers made false claims about the benefits of their elderberry products or otherwise violated federal labeling requirements. If so, they may be able to get class action lawsuits started on behalf of those who bought the products.
How a Class Action Lawsuit Can Help
If filed and successful, lawsuits could help consumers get back the money they spent on elderberry supplements. It could also force the manufacturers to relabel their products and revise or remove any claims found to be fraudulent.
Which Products Are Being Looked Into?
The full list can be found below.
January 27, 2020 – Case Filed Over Sambucol Elderberry Supplement
A proposed class action has been filed over the marketing and labeling of a dozen Sambucol elderberry products. Find details on the lawsuit here or keep reading to learn more about the ongoing elderberry investigation, the products involved and what you can do.
Attorneys working with ClassAction.org would like to speak to people who purchased any of the following elderberry products:
The Vitamin Shoppe Sambucus Black Elderberry Extract
Zhou Nutrition Elderberry Syrup
NutraChamps Elderberry Capsules
Havasu Nutrition Elderberry Gummies
Horbaach Black Elderberry Capsules
Nature’s Truth Sambucus Black Elderberry Capsules
Nature's Truth Sambucus Black Elderberry Extract
Nature's Way Sambucus for Kids Syrup, Standardized Elderberry
Nature's Way Sambucus Standardized Elderberry Gummies
NOW FOODS Elderberry Liquid
NOW Supplements Elderberry Capsules
Sambucol Black Elderberry Original Formula Extract Syrup
Sambucol Black Elderberry Cold & Flu Relief Tablets
Sambucol Black Elderberry Anti-Viral Flu Syrup
Sambucol Black Elderberry Cold & Flu Capsules
Airborne Elderberry Immune Support Effervescent Tablets
Airborne Elderberry Immune Support Gummies
They’re investigating whether these products live up to their advertised claims and whether they were properly labeled under federal guidelines. If not, class action lawsuits could help consumers get their money back.
Before attorneys can even consider taking legal action, they need to hear from people who purchased the products to assist with their investigation.
Elderberry Health Claims
Elderberry, also known as Sambucus nigra, has been widely used in supplements for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
Manufacturers have made a wide range of claims on these supplements, including that they:
Boost the immune system
Shorten the duration of colds and the flu
Reduce the severity of cold, upper respiratory tract infection and flu symptoms
Defend against harmful bacteria
Contain ingredients that are “clinically proven” to reduce cold and allergy symptoms
Research has called into question, however, whether elderberry actually provides any benefit to those suffering from the flu, colds or seasonal allergies.
For instance, in April 2019, the University of Sydney reported that eating elderberries could help minimize flu symptoms. Weeks later, the Australian university had to retract its claim after a report by The Sydney Morning Herald revealed that the study was funded in part by Pharmacare, a company that sells elderberry flu remedies, and involved no actual testing on humans or even mice.
Further, it has been reported as recently as February 2019 that no “large randomized controlled trials” have been carried out to date to determine whether elderberry is effective in treating or preventing the flu.
The National Institutes of Health has also spoken out about elderberry and its purported immune-boosting properties and made the following conclusions.
Research has indicated that elderberry may reduce flu symptoms. This evidence, however, “is not strong enough to support its uses for this purpose.”
A “few” studies have hinted that products containing elderberry and other ingredients could help with sinusitis; however, it is not clear whether elderberry plays any role in this, considering that the products also contain other herbs.
Not enough information is available to show “whether elder flower and elderberry are helpful for any other purposes.”
Certain parts of the elderberry plant are considered toxic. Even if these parts are removed, the toxic substance could still be present on the plant and cause vomiting, nausea and diarrhea if consumed in large quantities.
Elderberry Reviews, Complaints
Several reviews have been posted online from consumers who had issues with their elderberry products or found that the supplements didn’t provide the immune support they expected. A sample of these complaints can be seen below [sic throughout]:
My daughter has been complaining about her stomach hurting for months. We've gone to the doctors and they have put her through the wringer with tests and blood draws. She sits in her shower every morning crying about her belly, has lost weight, refuses meals. And, it all comes back to this product. I'm furious. If not cooked properly, it's poison!! And, this isn't really even elderberry. It's mostly Echinacea!! Which you can NOT take long term!!! WTF. Is this company trying to harm our kids?! Put it on the front of the box! There is more Echinacea in it than elderberry! I truly hope my daughter does not have an ulcer, she's 7. If so, this company will be hearing more from me!!!!” — HESS_NC, Nature's Way Sambucus for Kids Syrup, Standardized Elderberry Review, Amazon.com
Taste is fine. Shipping and delivery was fine. Whole family took this during this cold/flu season hoping to ward off some of the nasty things going around. We all got sick anyhow—multiple times—with colds/flus that lingered on for weeks. Really hoped this would do something to help—especially considering all the great 5 star reviews. With the high price I can’t justify buying this without seeing results.” — SmartShopper, Sambucol Black Elderberry Original Formula Extract Syrup Review, Amazon.com
After reading numerous reviews, I ordered this product (same day delivery) because I wanted an alternative to the zinc tasting products. I took it as directed every 3 hours letting it dissolve on your tongue. First of I still have the cold and it's gotten worse, secondly it does nothing to relieve the symptoms either. It does taste good, I give it a star for that. But do not waste your money on this overhyped product. It is all placebo effect.” — GoHawks, Sambucol Black Elderberry Cold & Flu Capsules Review, Amazon.com
It's hard for me to believe that this product is doing me any good. This product is too sweet - tons of extra sugar in the bottom of the bottle too and the gummies are overly sweet. Sugar & tapioca syrup are the 2 first ingredients, so I don't think I'm getting any major benefit from taking this product. Just feels like I'm eating some gummy candy, not really something that is aiding my immune system.” — Christmasbaby10, Airborne Elderberry Immune Support Gummies customer, Walmart.com
If elderberry supplement manufacturers are making misleading claims about the benefits of their products – or are otherwise improperly labeling their supplements – they could be held accountable through a class action lawsuit.
How a Class Action Could Help
Class action lawsuits, if filed and successful, could help consumers get back the money they spent on elderberry supplements. It’s possible that consumers paid more than they would have had they known the truth behind the supplements they were taking. Further, the manufacturers could be forced to relabel their products and change any claims determined to be fraudulent.