The Sambucus nigra and black or European elder are safe for human consumption when cooked and prepared properly, according to the University of Maryland. Other species of elderberry may not be safe for humans to use.
The Sambucus nigra and black elderberry are most frequently used to treat the cold and flu. According to WebMD, elderberries from safe species contain flavonoids and antioxidants that may boost the immune system and promote health and wellness. All elderberries that are to be consumed should be properly cooked.
WebMD states that unripe, raw, or improperly cooked elderberries may cause nausea, vomiting or other stomach problems. Uncooked berries contain a chemical that is comparable to cyanide, a poison that can cause illness or death in humans. Additionally, American elderberry, elderflower and dwarf elder aren't considered safe for human consumption.