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Elderberry syrup is one of my favorite 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 is a lot that you can do to stay well throughout the cold and flu season. And adding elderberries to your regular routine is one way that is easy and effective!
Benefits Of Elderberry Syrup
Elderberry syrup is a natural remedy 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 C.
All of which help to support and strengthen the immune system.
Studies Of Elderberry For Cold and Flu
There have been a number of tests and studies done on elderberry and their effect on immune function.
Sambucol, a standardized black elderberry extract, 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- 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 a more effective prevention than a flu vaccine and can shorten the duration of illness better than Tamiflu.
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.
All you need are 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
- 4 cups of cold water
- 1 cup of dried elderberries (organic)
- 2 tsp. dried ginger root (organic)
- 1-2 cinnamon sticks
- 1 cup of raw honey
- vanilla beans
What To Do
1. Pour water, herbs, and elderberries into a pot.
2. Bring to a boil
3. Reduce 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 mixture through, squeezing the 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 lukewarm, mix in the honey. (Adding honey while the liquid is hot can kill beneficial enzymes of raw honey).
And that’s all it takes to make homemade elderberry syrup, my friend!
*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 for 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.
Where To Buy Elderberry Syrup
Not the DIY type? No problem!
Elderberry syrup is available online or at your favorite health food store.
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 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 elderberries 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 elderberries is not something you want to do.
Unripe elderberries (along with the seeds, stems, leaves, and roots) are poisonous. They actually contain a cyanide-inducing 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.
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 the 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 cabinet 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.
Free Guide To DIY Natural Home Remedies
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I have a background in natural health and homeopathy, have been a licensed massage therapist for over 14 years, and have a degree in Human Services. But most importantly, I am a wife and mom.
My mission is to provide researched information and actionable steps to help you on your road to good health.
Because there is nothing more important than....