Hippocrates Is Said To Have Called It . . .
His “medicine chest,” and for thousands of years it’s been revered in folk medicine for its healing properties. (source) Now studies are starting to confirm what tradition has long held: elderberries are a delicious and effective way to support immune function during cold and flu season.
Unlike fire cider, which boosts immune performance through an infusion of pungent and spicy herbs, this elderberry syrup recipe uses a sweet and simple decoction of berries and honey. If I had to choose, I’d go with the fire cider, but as you’ll notice in the video below, my littles ones attack this stuff like ravenous wolves. Fortunately, we don’t have to choose – both are in our fridge right now!
Elderberry Syrup Benefits
Reduce Cold & Flu Symptoms
In this study, researchers found that flu patients who received elderberry syrup recovered about four days sooner than those who received a placebo.
In another study that had similar results, it was concluded that there were two reasons for the more rapid recovery. First, patients taking elderberry had higher anti-haemagglutination titers, meaning their immune system was functioning optimally. Second, they found that elderberry inhibits neuraminidase, an enzyme that the virus uses to infect cells. (source)
Nasal/Sinus Congestion Relief
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, “Some evidence suggests that chemicals in elder flower and berries may help reduce swelling in mucous membranes, such as the sinuses, and help relieve nasal congestion. Elder may have anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and anticancer properties.”
How Much Should I Take?
Though they are valued for therapeutic purposes, elderberries are a food. They’re used to make pie, jelly and wine, so there isn’t a specific “dosage” for them any more than there is one for dark cherries.
However, here are some guidelines that have been traditionally followed: To support immune function throughout cold and flu season children are usually given ½ – 1 teaspoon per day, while adults usually take about 1½ teaspoons – 1 tablespoon. During illness, the frequency of administration increases to every 2-3 hours until the symptoms resolve.
Elderberry Syrup Recipe
Makes about 2 cups
Note: Because this recipe contains honey, it should not be used in children under one.
- 1/2 cup dried or 1 cup fresh elderberries (find them here)
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup honey
- 1-2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger (optional)
- 1 cinnamon stick (optional)
1. Add water, elderberries and ginger/cinnamon (if you’re using them) to a pot and bring to a boil.
2. Reduce heat and simmer until liquid is reduced by half. This should take around 45 minutes.
3. Strain to remove berries. Allow liquid to cool to room temperature, then stir in honey.
4. Transfer elderberry syrup to a jar and store in the fridge.
Shelf life: In my house, a batch lasts an entire winter season.
Don’t Want To Make Your Own?
You can find pre-made elderberry syrup online here.
Middle photo credit: Mark Robinson
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