Homemade Elderberry Syrup
Winter is coming and along with snowball fights, warm soup, and holidays, seasonal sickness will also be arriving. As a Mom, this puts me on high alert when it comes to my little ones, as seeing them sick is not something I enjoy. Besides eating a clean diet free of added sugars and processed foods, drinking plenty of fluids, ensuring proper sleep hygiene, frequent hand washing and bundling up in the cold, what’s a Mom to do when your little one falls sick? Enter your new favorite botanical, Sambucus nigra, also known as Elderberry.
Known for its beautiful white flowers and sweet taste, Elderberry has been grown for both ornamental reasons as well as for agricultural reasons, been used for wines, currants, jellies, and syrups. Most relevant for our purposes, the fruit of the elderberry tree has also been used traditionally for the treatment of colds and flu where it works from three different aspects.
First, Elderberry has a direct impact on the virus itself: studies have shown that elderberry will inhibit the binding of the influenza virus to the healthy cell, thereby blocking replication of the virus and thus inhibiting its actions.
Second, Elderberry will activate anti-inflammatory molecules to reduce symptoms such as muscle aches and head aches, and will active certain inflammatory properties that help to fend off the virus.
Lastly, elderberry has the ability to active certain immune cells that will attack the virus itself.
Due to these three mechanisms, Elderberry will reduce nasal congestion and mucus production, relieve muscle aches, headaches, and reduces the severity and duration of fevers associated with colds and the flu. If taken within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms, studies have shown the duration of the sickness to be shortened on an average of four days.
Elderberry can be taken daily during the winter for immune support, as there have been no adverse effects reported in any studies done, however people with autoimmune conditions should avoid supplementation due to the immune stimulating properties. From a mom perspective, the best thing about elderberry is that kids love to take it because of its sweet flavor. In fact, my two and a half year old daughter specifically asks for it!
Dosages for kids range from ¼ teaspoon to 1 teaspoon/day for overall immune support; this can be doubled when an infection is present. Studies show that you can expect relief after 24 to 48 hours of elderberry supplementation. You can purchase elderberry syrup or make a fresh batch yourself using the recipe below!
Elderberry Syrup Recipe
• 2 cups dried, organic elderberries
• 1 cup honey
• 3.5 cups cold water
1. Add elderberries and water to sauce pan, bring to boil.
2. Cover and reduce heat to simmer for 45 minutes or until mixture is reduced by half.
3. Remove from heat and mash berries until smooth.
4. Pour mixture through strainer (pulp can be saved and used for breads, etc!).
5. Add honey and mix until combined.
6. Store in a sterilized container in the refrigerator.
It is important to note that raw elderberries should not be consumed, as they contain cyanide containing molecules which are broken down when cooked.
For added taste and benefit, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg can be added to the initial boil of the elderberries. Bonus of making the syrup at home: it provides an amazing aroma throughout the house! Here’s to staying healthy this winter!