homemade DIY elderberry syrup

Elderberry Syrup For Flu Prevention And Recovery

Elderberry syrup is one of my favorite natural remedies for cold and flu prevention and recovery.

Now that school has started and we are moving toward colder weather, supporting and strengthening the immune system is one of my top priorities.

If it’s a priority to you too, you should know that there are natural ways you can stay well throughout the cold and flu season.

And adding elderberries to your regular routine is a great choice that is easy and effective!

This is the info we’ll be going over:

  • Health benefits of elderberry syrup
  • Clinical studies and findings
  • How to make elderberry syrup
  • FAQ’s

Want to know more about this clinically proven and effective natural remedy? Read on!

Benefits Of Elderberry Syrup

Elderberry syrup is a folk medicine that is made from the berries of the elderberry plant.

Elderberries have been found to be an immunomodulator, immune tonic, and have antiviral properties. In addition, elderberries contain vitamins A, B, and vitamin C.

All of which help to support and strengthen the immune system.

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I’ll receive a commission if you purchase through my links, at no extra cost to you. Please read full disclosure for more information.

Studies Of Elderberry For Cold and Flu

There have been a number of tests and studies done on this amazing medicinal plant and its effect on immune function.

Researchers have found elderberry to be effective for the treatment of influenza, respiratory infections, and reducing the duration of cold and flu.

Sambucol, a standardized black elderberry extract (or Sambucus Nigra), has been found to be effective against 10 strains of the influenza virus!

And as for what researchers found in relation to reducing the duration of colds and flu symptoms- they found elderberry could shorten symptoms of illness by 3-4 days!!

Just for comparison- the flu vaccine typically contains only 3-4 strains of the influenza virus.

And Tamiflu, a popular antiviral medication only shortens the duration of the flu by one day.

It seems to me that elderberry syrup is more effective prevention than a flu vaccine and can shorten the duration of illness better than Tamiflu.

Not only does it work better, but you also don’t have to worry about all of the potential side effects related to the vaccine and antiviral drugs.

How To Make Your Own Elderberry Syrup

If you find yourself wanting to give elderberry syrup a try and are a DIY kind of person, you can easily make your own.

The only thing you need is a few simple ingredients and a little time.

In less time than it takes to watch your favorite show on Netflix, you can have healthy, homemade elderberry syrup! (Or watch it while you make the syrup 😉 )

What You’ll Need

Optional additions:

  • cloves
  • vanilla beans
  • echinacea
  • rosehips

What To Do

1. Pour water, herbs, and elderberries into a large pot.

2. Bring to a boil

3. Reduce to low heat until ingredients are at a simmer. Continue simmering for about 45 minutes.

4. Remove pan from heat and allow to cool for about an hour (or until warm but not hot)

5. Next, use a funnel and cheesecloth and strain the mixture through, squeezing the elderberry juice from the berries and herbs.

6. If the liquid is still quite warm set it aside and let it cool for a while longer.

7. After the liquid has cooled to about room temperature, mix in the honey. (Adding honey while the liquid is hot can kill beneficial enzymes thereby removing the medicinal value of raw honey).

And that’s all it takes to make homemade black elderberry syrup, my friend!

Additional Info

*Be sure to store your elderberry syrup in a jar with a tight-fitting lid and keep it in the refrigerator.

*This is not a shelf-stable recipe*

This recipe should keep well in the refrigerator. The average shelf life is thought to be about 2-3 months (some say up to 6 months).

In our house, children get 1/2-1 tsp. for general health (every other day or so). Adults take 1 tsp.

If sickness strikes we double or triple that for a few days for extra immune support.

Where To Buy Elderberry Syrup

Not the DIY type? No problem!

Elderberry syrup is available online or at health stores.

Just a word of caution– be sure to look for a reputable brand and a product that is not full of sugar. (Sugar has been found to suppress the immune system, which is the opposite of what you are trying to accomplish 😉 )

If you’re looking for a good option you can buy, my family and I have tried this elderberry syrup and felt that it was a good choice because of the very low sugar content.


Still have some questions about elderberry syrup?

Maybe you will find your answer here!

1. Can I use fresh elderberries instead of dried?

You can definitely use fresh berries for this recipe. You will need to use a little more than a cup if you go this route.

About 1 1/3 cups or so are usually recommended if the berries are fresh.

2. Is it safe to eat raw elderberries?

Eating raw black elderberries is not something you want to do.

Unripe berries (along with the seeds, stems, leaves, and roots) are poisonous. They actually contain a cyanogenic glucoside that can accumulate in your body and cause you to become very ill.

Ripe uncooked berries can cause all kinds of digestive distress including nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Don’t worry though- cooking the berries safely removes the toxic substances.

3. Does elderberry syrup need to be refrigerated?

If you’re using this recipe, yes, it needs to stay in the refrigerator.

Elderberry syrup needs to have more sugar, alcohol, or some of both to inhibit the growth of mold and bacteria.

If you are not sure that you will use all of the syrup in time or are thinking of making additional batches of elderberry syrup and saving them for later, you could always freeze small amounts by pouring it into ice cube trays.

That way you will have some on hand the next time you need it!

4. Can you take elderberry every day?

That’s really a question that should be answered by a naturopathic doctor or your health care practitioner. They would be able to give a more specific answer to your personal situation.

I can tell you that elderberries are known to be immunomodulators and are considered an immune tonic, meaning that they balance the immune system and are slower acting and supportive, as opposed to stimulating and fast-acting.

My family takes elderberry syrup 2-3 times per week during cold and flu season. If someone is starting to feel extra tired or like they are coming down with something the dose and frequency are increased.

5. Would this be safe for someone with an autoimmune disease?

It’s possible, but I can’t give a definite answer to that question.

There are many people with an autoimmune disease that are able to take elderberry syrup, but there are some who cannot.

If you are considering adding this to your health and wellness routine, it would be best to talk to your health care provider.

6. What are the side effects of elderberry?

There are not many side effects associated with elderberry for most people as long as you don’t eat the berries raw (and always stay away from the other poisonous parts of the plant!).

There are a few people who should use extra caution or reconsider.

Infants under 1 year should not use elderberry syrup that includes honey. Honey for young children (under 1 year) is not recommended because there is a chance of sickness due to infantile botulism.

People who are on blood sugar medicine should talk to their health care practitioner because, in some people, elderberry has been shown to lower blood sugar levels.

Another group of people that may not be able to take elderberry syrup would be those on immune-suppressing drugs. Elderberry can boost the immune system and it may interfere with these drugs.

Final Thoughts About Elderberry Syrup

Elderberry syrup has been proven to be an effective remedy to strengthen and support your immune system.

It’s a great option to help you stay well this cold and flu season!

If you want to add this remedy to your natural medicine chest you can make your own easily and affordably, or buy an already made product.

Just make sure your product or ingredients are from reputable sources and you consult a health care professional if you have specific health concerns.

Looking For More Natural Immune Boosting Remedies? Check these out!

5 Herbs To Support A Healthy Immune System

Herbal Tea Bombs: A Natural Remedy for Cold and Flu Symptoms

How To Make Pine Needle Tea (+Health Benefits!)

Fermented Garlic & Honey

Easy Fire Cider Recipe

Onion Poultice For Cough & Congestion

Homemade Cough Syrup Recipes

elderberry syrup

6 thoughts on “Elderberry Syrup For Flu Prevention And Recovery”

  1. I recently tried elderberry syrup for the first time! I was surprised by its taste and its ability to make us feel better. I swear my sickness didn’t last as long. I’ll keep this recipe on hand to make it myself next time!

    Thank you for this!

    1. Hi Ashley,

      Elderberry does have it’s own flavor. Not bad, just unique.
      I’m glad that you found it helpful, now you have the recipe if you ever want to make your own!

      I hope you have a winter full of health and wellness 🙂

  2. Would it be possible to freeze portions of the elderberry syrup in order to keep it longer…or would that destroy its beneficial properties?

    1. Hi Gayle,

      I have never tried to freeze elderberry syrup but it is possible! I think the general recommendation is that the syrup is good for about 6 months (you might want to double-check that though). If you decide to give it a try I’d love to hear about your experience!

  3. This is a great, simple recipe!! I just wanted to note that most clinical herbalists suggest only using elderberry when fighting something or if exposed to something. The reason being that taking it regularly, keeps the immune system in a heightened state which actually causes inflammation in the body. The immune system is designed to go up and down and not being in a constantly “up” state.
    Anyway thanks for posting! I couldn’t find my usual written on paper recipe and used this and it was great! 💜

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