The cold and flu season is upon us!!! There are so many germs flying around right now, I can practically see them floating in the air.
I am not a big fan of sickness in general (who is?) and so I take extra precautions when I hear everyone around me hacking away: I load up with nutrient dense foods and warm homemade broths; I make up a jar of honey garlic for an extra anti-microbial punch; I make sure to clean my hands immediately after leaving the grocery store (thank you Thieves hand purifier!); and I take a spoon (or two) of elderberry syrup every day for added immune support. (For additional tips on how to stay healthy through the winter season, please see my article on: “Stay Healthy This Flu Season – Naturally!”)
Why is elderberry syrup beneficial? Elderberries have long been used throughout history as a cure for various sicknesses. Studies have shown that using elderberries in a syrup-form can help to boost immunity, decrease mucous production during colds, and help to fight the flu. Elderberries are high in vitamins A and C, which help keep your immune system and body healthy. When you have an upper respiratory infection, elderberry syrup helps to reduce mucous secretions and decrease swelling in airways, making it easier to breathe and soothes coughs. When it comes to the flu, a study in the Journal of International Medical Research discovered that when patients were given elderberry syrup, they recovered an average of 4 days faster from the flu than those not taking the supplement. A daily dose of elderberry syrup can help to prevent both acute and chronic illness.
Sounds pretty amazing, right? What we’ve personally noticed is that since using elderberry syrup in the fall to spring months, our family has been able to stay healthier. I also am quick to give a spoon or two more if I feel like any of us are starting to feel unwell. So far, we’ve avoided any of the “plagues” going around locally this season. Hoping it stays that way!
This recipe is one that we have been using for years. It can be adapted based on your personal needs, such as adding more or less honey. I also find that it is easy to add essential oils to it, which give an extra immune-supporting boost. My favorites to add are essential oils like: cinnamon, clove, lemon, and frankincense. (Please make sure that if you are adding essential oils to your elderberry syrup that they are labeled for internal use! Many brands are not)
An additional note about purchasing elderberries: I like to purchase mine online from companies selling organic or wild-crafted dried elderberries. When purchasing online, it is best to try to purchase a bulk supply of elderberries in the summer, as the prices are the lowest. During the winter months, prices can triple or quadruple for the same amount of berries, or they can all be out of stock. So it’s good to prepare ahead of time! You can also easily grow elderberries at home. I am hoping to start a bush or two this spring, so we’ll see how that project pans out!
The original recipe is compliments of Katie at Wellness Mama. It has been a crowd pleaser among both my customers and my friends for a long time now!
2/3 cup black elderberries
3 ½ cups filtered water
2 Tbs. fresh or dried ginger (I prefer fresh, cut into ¼ – ½ inch slices, peel on)
1 tsp. ground cinnamon (you may also use cinnamon sticks)
½ tsp whole cloves
1 cup raw honey (may use less if desired)
1. Add elderberries, water, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves to a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, cover, and then simmer for about 45-60 minutes, until the liquid is reduced by almost half.
2. Remove the pan from heat and allow it to cool.
3. Pour the liquid through a sieve/strainer into a glass jar. (The elderberries can be discarded or composted).
4. Let the liquid completely cool to lukewarm; then add the honey and stir to mix. (I like to put a tight lid on and shake the jar to thoroughly mix in the honey) You may also add essential oils at this time if desired.
5. Store in the fridge. This generally keeps well; I have never had the syrup spoil when we are using it regularly.
*** Take daily if desired or take 5 days a week (skip the weekend).
Adults: ½ to 1 Tbs. daily
Children: ½ to 1 tsp. daily
If you have the flu or otherwise feel under the weather: take your normal amount every 2-3 hours until symptoms disappear
Enjoy, and best wishes for a healthy winter!