Welcome the Fall With Elderberry Syrup

Several years ago, we learned about Elderberry Syrup. Ever since then, we won’t be without it! At first, I would buy it, which is a good alternative if you need it fast. (I know it’s available at Whole Foods, just make sure you get sugar-free!) But after finding a couple of easy recipes, I prefer to make it. It’s soooo much cheaper and super easy to make! And I can be sure nothing extra has been added.

With the weather changing and lots of different viruses and illnesses waiting to rear their ugly heads, this is a great time to make some and have on hand! (Make sure your college kids have a supply!) There are two easy recipes at the end of this post, along with a link where you can buy dried elderberries.

What exactly is elderberry syrup? The elderberry (sambucus nigra) is a dark blue-purple berry that is rich in color and nutrition. The berry contains Vitamins A, B, C and E and is a natural stimulant to the immune system. Boiling the elderberry releases all the immune boosters so you get amazing benefits! Is this a new thing? Nope, and I really wish I had know about it when my kids were little. Elderberries have been used for thousands of years all over the world. It was even considered a Holy Tree in the Middle Ages because of its health, longevity and medicinal benefits. There have been lots of studies about its effectiveness. Israeli researchers found that the complex sugars in the berry help to fight all kinds of colds, flu and viruses. A doctor out of Hadassah-Hebrew University in Israel found that the elderberry can prevent infection before it strikes. When taken after an infection hits, it can help prevent the spread of the virus through the respiratory tract. According to a clinical trial she participated in, “20% of study subjects reported significant improvement within 24 hours, 70% by 48 hours and 90% claimed to be cured in three days. This is in contrast to subjects who received a placebo requiring 6 days to recover.” There have been studies out of Germany showing that the elderberry is very high in the antioxidant that produces cytokines, the main messenger for regulating the immune system. It also protects mucous membranes and reduces swelling caused from inflammation.

So how can you take elderberry syrup to boost your immune system? Starting in October or so, give you whole family 1 tablespoon a day. (If you use honey in your syrup, do not give to children under one. Check with your doctor first before giving it to small children,) Once you or your child has a cold or even the flu, there’s not much you can do but wait it out. Fortunately, elderberry syrup can help shorten the duration. Since it inhibits mucous secretions and swelling of the respiratory passages, it can mean less coughing and trouble breathing. According to the Journal of International Medical Research, patients that took elderberry syrup recovered an average of 4 days faster from the flu than those who didn’t. Take 1 teaspoon every 4 hours if you are sick. Of course, always get a healthcare practitioner involved if things do not improve! Be sure you get your elderberries from a reputable store. This is where I get mine: http://www.vitacost.com/frontier-natural-products-whole-elder-european-berries-16-oz

Here are two recipes to try:

1) Ingredients:

½ c dried elderberries

2 c water

1 c honey

1 cinnamon stick

Add water, elderberries and cinnamon stick to a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until liquid is reduced by half. Should take around 30-45 minutes. Strain to remove berries and let liquid to cool to room temperature. Once cool, stir in honey. Pour in to glass jar and store in the frig. Will keep for several months. Makes about 2 ½ cups.   

2) Ingredients:

¾ c dried elderberries

3 c water

1 cinnamon stick

4 whole cloves

1 c raw honey

Add berries, water, cloves and cinnamon stick to a pot and bring to boil, then reduce to simmer. Allow to simmer for about 30-45 minutes, then strain berries. Let cool til it’s just warm and add in honey. Store in glass jar in frig for several months. Makes 3 cups.   

****Because of the honey, do not give to children under 1.****