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Sambucus vs Sambucol - Bloggit's Journal

About Sambucus vs Sambucol

Previous Entry Sambucus vs Sambucol Dec. 9th, 2010 @ 06:45 am Next Entry
I'm a fan of Black Elderberry syrup for flu/cold prevention in the autumn/winter period. I ran across it years ago, and it's one of the few "holistic" shinolas I believe work. But... there are two similar products, and anecdotally my experience with one was far more effective than with the other. So I did what any engineer would, and investigated.

The two products are Sambucol and Sambucus. Both claim to be "original". As far as I can tell, Sambucol is really the original and Nature's Way Sambucus is a reformulation after a licensing disagreement over the original. Since Nature's Way also has a "Sambucus Immune Syrup" which adds to the Sambucus Syrup vitamin C, zinc, echinacea angustifolia (root), echinacea purpurea (flower) and propolis, it's possible that they are using "Original" in a sneaky way, meaning "stolen idea" and "improved upon stolen idea". But I'm not sure that matters.

What Is It?

Sambucus Nigra is Black Elderberry. An Algerian-born Isreali virologist named Dr. Madeleine Mumcuoglu did research on the effectiveness of fresh whole Elderberry juice. Some of the research is at http://www.blackelderberry.info. The clinical study results were pretty conclusive; following these, Dr. Mumcuoglu founded Jerusalem company Razei Bar to produce and sell the syrup; Sambucol is apparently the same formula.

Is There A Formula?

It's not clear. The research and summaries imply that the creation of the Elderberry extract is important. It is not, at any rate, "standardized" extract, but rather is made from the entire berries. And Sambucol is apparently made that way, while Sambucus is made from "standardized extracts"... which means processed and chemically extracted. Without specific studies demonstrating that they know which "BioActives" are providing the effect, it's hard to imagine that they know their process gets the right ones and doesn't damage them.

According to the Isreal 21C newsletter, the 100% natural Sambucol contains a potent antiviral compound, AntiVirin as well as a high amount of three flavonoids, naturally occurring plant antioxidants. The Nature's Way site (Sambucus) doesn't make any mention of it.

On the other hand, Razei Bar attempted to trademark AntiVirin in 1997; it was opposed and cancelled in 2001. See Trademark Serial Number 75326230, Registration Number 2508312. In Isreal, it is trademark 113461. (Yes, I even looked that up!) So Sambucus couldn't claim AntiVirin even if it were chemically identical.

Click to the product page.
Sambucol has the website address incorrect on their box.
TasteSweet and slightly astringentThicker, has a purple taste.
Claimed from 6.4g berries
Probably not technically accurate, considering the dose is only 10ml == 10 grams at water-mass
According to the Sales Team Manager, each bottle has the "fresh juice" from about 1000 elderberries. (That's about 43 berries per dose.)
"Standardized Elderberry Bioactives"
Standardized extracts are seldom of the entire fruit, and typically are extracted using chemicals. (They also typically have a 10% effectiveness rate - you need chemical extract from ten times more cranberries, for example, to get the same impact of eating or drinking them.
Google of "standardized Bio-Certified" without Elderberry returns five (5) results, a strong sign that the term is flim-flam.
"The proprietary elderberry extract that was used in published clinical studies"
This is the juice from the entire berry, extracted without chemicals.
Other Ingredients
  • Fructose
  • Water
  • Glycerin
  • Natural Raspberry Flavor
  • Citric Acid
  • Glucose
  • Water
  • Citric Acid
  • Potassium Sorbate
    (To retard spoilage)
Website FAQ QualityNone. They have several FAQ links, each of which states, "There are no frequently asked questions available for this product", with an email link.High. On the order of 25 useful questions, such as interactions, safety with various conditions, historical usage and why it works.


I started this to see if my perception, that Sambucol was more effective than Sambucus, had any merit. This was important for me because Sambucus is easier to find; the always-extravagantly-priced GNC chain carries it. My goal was to use the more effective formula if it makes a difference, and otherwise to be able to nip down to GNC when needed.

What I believe I have found is:

  • Sambucol is the original tested formula; there is no cited research on Sambucus at all, beyond assuming it is similar to Sambucol.
  • They use different mechanisms for creating the Elderberry extract, so similarity of end-results should not be assumed.
  • Both products may be engaging in some misdirection:
    • Sambucol research touts AntiVirin, but locked the term under trademark; Sambucus could be identical and still not able to use the term.
    • Sambucus has no apparently supporting research for their "standardized Bio-Active extract" nor for their syrup, but claim to be "virologist tested."
    • Sambucus touts "original formula", but given the ingredients list, it is clearly not the original Sambucol formula; it's just an original syrup formula.
Both syrups cost the same from online retailers.

In the end, I've decided to use Sambucol when I can, and Sambucus when Sambucol is not readily available. Of course, you may know something I don't, in which case please email me and I will update this page.

Leave a comment
Date:August 7th, 2011 08:47 am (UTC)

sambucus vs. sambucol

this isn't accurate, since I used to take Sambucol when it was truly original (i.e. made in israel & marketed by Natures Way).

It's currently marketed from France, and that version (even if it's named "sambucol") does NOT taste like the true original, so the ingredients have definitely changed. The French version tastes more nauseating & less refreshing.

I did not yet taste sambucus-original by Natures Way (i.e. its own version of the original sambucol), but hope to do so soon.
Date:September 23rd, 2011 05:21 am (UTC)

Sambucol works better

Thank you for the research on this page. For the last 3 winters, we've been using the Sambucus formulation, not realizing that it's no longer Sambucol. And we've seen a dramatic rise in respiratory illness in our three kids. More troubling was that their recovery period was much longer (5-6 days) versus the 2-3 days it used to be with Sambucol. I didn't realize there had been a switch. And was wondering why the Sambucol was no longer working as well.

We will be switching back immediately.
Date:January 1st, 2013 04:23 am (UTC)
Thank You so much for taking the time and going to the effort of making known your findings as to the comparative Differences between these two similar products.
The Original Product; Sambucol® vs Sambucus® by Natures Way®.
For many years I have used the original Sambucol® and found it very effective in my fighting of colds & flues.
I have also used the Natures Way formula of Sambucus®, but didn't think it as effective, though I make no attempt to knock the Quality of their product, just the recognition that they are Two different products made by two different companies.
My personal choice is to stick to the Original Sambucol® but have found it more difficult to find as of recent years, thus my use of the Natures Way Product.

My Summary; Shop online and try both products and make your own comparison !


Date:January 23rd, 2013 06:59 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I was wondering which one to get! I appreciate you blogging about this!
Date:October 9th, 2011 03:39 pm (UTC)

Nature's Way Sambucus vs Sambucol by Healthcare Brands International Ltd.

I was told by a very knowledgeable health store rep that Sambucus by Nature's Way was originally called Sambucol and that the product was from or formulated in Israel. Nature's Way was distributing the product. But Nature's Way had a falling out over some 'unnatural ingredient' (that had not been disclosed to them before) in the product and refused to continued to distribute it. This could be hype or it might be true. I am going to carefully look at all the ingredients in all products and ask both Nature's Way and Healthcare Brands International Ltd. for full disclosure. Both companies might just be putting a spin on some dispute they had between themselves. One may work better but one may be healthier. Note that Nature's Way has multiple formulas ie Sambucus Immune Syrup vs Sambucus Original Syrup. I was told to always look for NATURAL FORMULA on the left corner the front of the box it comes in. I like to prefer products that both work and are healthy but that usually narrows down to food since all more processed products have much money involved. They become more business than integrity oriented. Food on the other hand while not perfect today is still less processed. Between these products folks might just try one and then the other and see if in those cases it happens that one works better than the other. But there are so many other factors that affect how a cold or flu might overtake you. Also if you believe one product is better than the other that faith packs it's own power to work.
I would suggest you contact both of these companies and get a response from them directly. All that is commented in health store on the Internet might just be hear say. It is hard to get to the truth. I think both products are probably good. It is easier to pray over what ever brand you purchase and let the Grace of God prevail.
Date:November 3rd, 2012 08:38 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much for doing the research and summarizing your findings so succinctly and, more importantly, thank you for sharing! It is the generosity of folks like you who make the internet such a wonderful resource for those of us who might not have the acumen to do the same. Kudos and happy, healthy winters to you :-)
Date:January 11th, 2013 03:03 pm (UTC)
Your bloggit.livejournal was the first entry when I Googled, "Sambucol or Sambucus?"
The research you've posted is exactly what I was looking for, and have corroborated it with my gut feeling all along.
I have always just caved in to pay the higher price for Sambucol, the one with Dr.Mumcuoglu's signature on the bottle.
Sambucol has always worked like it says it will in the instructions for use.
I don't buy the children's formula, rather have always given them the original strength.
We have kept it as a staple in our arsenal of defense since it was first made available maybe 20 years ago?
As I write, I am feeling initial flu symptoms, which have sent me to my bottle of Sambucol.
I need to re-order and find so many elderberry knock-offs to choose from.
Thanks for helping me to be sure of what I order.

{{* *}}
Date:January 15th, 2013 11:48 pm (UTC)
Excuse me...but are we posting about Sambucol which is homeopathic treatment for flu/virus.
If so Sambucol carries not only the same singular remedy found in Zycam, but also several more....all homeopathic in nature.
And atleast those who practice homepathy know (at this time) there is nothing better to fight the flu than a carefully selected combination of
homeopathic remedies for the current strains of flu/virus which abound.
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From:Irene van der Sar
Date:September 3rd, 2014 09:15 am (UTC)

Further anecdotal evidence

As a lab technician, I have experimented... My two children went overseas on a flight to America with three of their friends. Here, New Zealand was coping with a huge flu problem. Hospitals were inundated with influenza patients, I didn't want my girls and their friends to spend part of their holiday in bed so gave them all the intensive dosage of Sambucol before the flight. 2 doses. 4 hours apart. Then also the lozenges as they actually had two flights before their destination.
None of them developed flu or even as much as a cold.
Anecdotal maybe, but perhaps further support that this stuff works!
Cheers, Irene, email nordic@clear.net.nz
Date:June 19th, 2016 09:00 pm (UTC)

North American Elderberry Juice

River Hills Harvest Elderberry Juice is growing in availability from out of the Midwest due to being distributed by KeHE beginning in 2016.

This elderberry juice not from concentrate is a cold pressed and cool processed. It is sold in 11 oz glass bottles of 22 servings of one tablespoon. Each bottle has the juice of 2000 berries. the only other ingredient is a little citric acid to bring each batch to a consistent pH range according to its HAACP plan. Since it is a juice, it can be mixed in other juice, water or alcoholic beverages or used in cooking recipes.
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