Elderberry Syrup: A Natural Cold/Flu Remedy

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A couple of years ago a college friend introduced me to Elderberry Syrup. Prior to beginning my “Real Food” journey, I would have simply been content to get the yearly flu shot and/or popped the latest over-the-counter remedy in order to get rid of nasty colds or flu symptoms. But, since I was already a “Real Foodie”, I wanted to try to prevent and treat the flu naturally.

Being curious, I did some research to find out exactly what elderberries were and how they could work to prevent the flu. Elderberries (also called Sambucus Nigra) are purple little berries that grow on shrubs that are indigenous to the United States and are related to the Honeysuckle family. In fact, we had an elderberry bush at our old house in Washington. I wish I had known THEN that there were healthy uses for those little purple berries!

In an article entitled Elderberry Syrup for Bronchitis and Flu, the author mentions that using elderberry syrup when suffering from the flu can reduce both the severity of your symptoms as well as the duration of your sickness by almost half. In fact, here’s the exact quote from the article talking about a study done in 1995:

 

” …elderberry extract reduced both the severity of flu symptoms and also the duration of flu from 2-3 days in the treated group versus 6 days in the placebo group.  This is because elderberry inhibits neuraminidase, the enzyme used by the virus to spread infection to host cells.”
 

Impressive! Elderberries also contain a flavonoid (natural antioxidant found in plants) called anthocyanin which is a powerful immune-booster. If you like to read about studies, another one called “Flu- Alternatives to Flu Vaccine” outlines a study done in Israel on the effects of elderberry on flu epidemic patients there.

Also, since elderberry syrup is a natural remedy, it doesn’t have the nasty side-effects that pharmaceutical flu meds, like Tamiflu, would have.

In addition to being beneficial to those with the flu (influenza) I have also read some other information that suggests elderberry syrup can be helpful for those with HIV/AIDS, sinus pain, sciatica (back/leg pain), neuralgia (nerve pain), and chronic fatigue syndrome. Maybe it is because it is known to boost the immune system and reduces inflammation? Isn’t it exciting to know there are natural remedies out there that can do the same thing as pharmaceuticals, only without the nasty side effects??

*Keep in mind that you should consult a qualified healthcare practitioner if you have health issues that need attention – do not use this or any other site for medical information or advice!*

Ok, here’s the recipe – it is SUPER easy to make and uses freeze-dried elderberries. I usually double it and keep it in a mason jar in my fridge. As long as you use a new spoon each time it will stay good for a long while.

 

ELDERBERRY SYRUP: 

1/2 cup dried elderberries (buy elderberries on Amazon or at Mountain Rose Herbs)

3 cups distilled or filtered water

cinnamon stick (or ground cinnamon) *optional

ginger (if desired) *optional

cloves (if desired) * optional

1/2 to 1 cup raw unfiltered honey (where to buy raw honey)

Instructions:

Bring the elderberries, water and spices to a boil. Allow to simmer for 20-30 minutes. Remove from heat and cool. Strain out solids (elderberries and spices). Discard the solids. Let cool just a bit (so the enzymes in the honey aren’t destroyed when you add it) and then add honey and stir until well mixed. Elderberries are VERY bitter, so the honey is a VERY necessary ingredient!

The spices are optional, but does add some flavor. I’m not a big fan of cloves, so I only use the honey and ground cinnamon and it turns out fine. You could do it with just honey – and I generally only use 1/2 cup of the honey.

*NOTE: if you use honey, be sure not to give to any children under 1 yr – if you want to give this to an infant, you could use a sweetener like agave nectar, etc.

If you feel flu symptoms coming on, begin using the elderberry syrup and just use a smaller amount MORE often.  I believe I have successfully warded off the flu and bad colds with this NUMEROUS times. If I start feeling sick/achy/feverish, I start taking elderberry syrup whenever I think of it – along with extra Fermented Cod Liver Oil! We all take about 1 Tablespoon of elderberry syrup daily throughout the cold/flu season, including my kids. They actually really like it and ASK for it!

Our family chooses to use this and other natural/holistic/nutrition methods for preventing the flu and choose not to get the flu shot. You can read more about our decision here.


By the way, if you are using Fermented Cod Liver Oil, I have found that squirting the daily serving of that into the cup with 1 Tbsp of elderberry syrup helps them get the FCLO down better! Here’s how we do it.

In addition to elderberry syrup, our family has also been using Juice Plus capsules/chewables for the last 3 years. We’ve had great results with this combination. Learn more about Juice Plus here.

Do you use any natural or homemade remedies to prevent or fight the flu or colds? I’d love to hear about them if you do!

 

 

This was shared at:

Kelly the Kitchen Kop’s blog, Fat Tuesday @ Real Food Forager, Healing With Foods Friday, Natural Family Friday

Comments

  1. Leave a Reply

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  2. Leave a Reply

    JessicaBarahona
    October 6, 2014

    can you make this with fresh berries? I just planted an elderberry bush which should produce next year.

  3. Leave a Reply

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  4. Leave a Reply

    Joy A
    December 3, 2013

    My first double batch is just about gone, so I’m making more this morning… I’m immuno-compromised and am usually sick all the time. So far this season 3 of my brothers have been out sick for a few days at a time each. I had one night with a stuffy nose… And I work with preschoolers regularly…. Only thing different this year? Elderberry syrup and FCLO.

    • Leave a Reply

      Melissa
      December 5, 2013

      YAY! That’s great. Thanks for sharing your “success story”. I hope it continues for you. Thanks for stopping by!

  5. Leave a Reply

    jas
    November 15, 2013

    I made this today and it made the house smell soooo fantastic. I put slices of ginger, 2 cinnamon sticks and one clove (not a fan). I used a little less than 1/2 cup of honey and what a delight! I usually don’t get the flu or the flu shot but I get a killer cough that lasts a good 2 or 3 months with nothing working for it so I have very high hopes for this stuff. Thanks!

    • Leave a Reply

      Melissa
      November 16, 2013

      It tastes great, too! I would love for you to stop back after the cold/flu season and let me know if you noticed any improvements! Thanks for stopping by!

  6. Leave a Reply

    GgmaDonna
    October 27, 2013

    Sore throat remedy. When I feel a sore throat coming on, I gargle with a mix of apple cider and salt. Works wonders. May taste yucky, but is better than fighting a sore throat.

  7. Leave a Reply

    Linda Kauffer
    October 27, 2013

    Hi Melissa! I have a gallon of frozen elderberries from this year’s harvest. Was going to make jelly, but after reading your post, I think I will make syrup. Should I use the same quantity as freeze dried? Thanks, Linda

    • Leave a Reply

      Melissa @ RealFoodEater
      October 31, 2013

      From things I’ve read, I think you’d want to use DOUBLE the amount of fresh berries. So if the recipe calls for 1/2 cup freeze-dried, you’d want to use 1 cup fresh instead.

  8. Leave a Reply

    Jennifer at Purposeful Nutrition
    October 26, 2013

    i have made this and love it. Actually time for another batch as the first one is gone. Thanks for sharing at Healing With Food Friday. Please come back and share again.

  9. Leave a Reply

    Liz Ferguson
    October 1, 2013

    Making my first batch right now! I ordered the berries through your link above. I didn’t have cinnamon stick, whole cloves or ginger root, so I’m opting to use dried, ground versions… all organic though. My husband might be thinking I’m a bit crazy….

    • Leave a Reply

      Melissa
      October 1, 2013

      Great! I never have cinnamon sticks either and just use the ground version. And I usually only use cinnamon and not the others….it’s totally up to your tastebuds!

  10. Leave a Reply

    Lora lee
    September 25, 2013

    I have used the expensive elderberry syrup you buy in the health food stores ( also in cvs now) many times to either ward off a cold or decrease the longevity of it. It works great. I’m a believer. So I am very excited to make my own less expensive version. Thanks for the recipe.

    • Leave a Reply

      Melissa
      September 25, 2013

      Great! Yes, it is SUPER easy to make and much cheaper that way. Thanks for stopping by!

  11. Leave a Reply

    April
    August 28, 2013

    I just made this. It doesn’t taste great, but its palatable with the honey. I hope my three year old will take it. I just wanted to confirm that your family takes this everyday during flu season and then more often if getting sick? My son just started preschool and I need to boost his immune system with all the kids he will be exposed to. Thanks.

    • Leave a Reply

      Melissa
      August 28, 2013

      Hmm, my kids really love the flavor of it. It should be sweet and taste like juice. You strained the elderberries out, right? Yes, we take a tablespoon per day during the fall/winter/early spring and more if getting sick. I hope you find that it works well for you!

      • Leave a Reply

        April
        August 30, 2013

        Yes I strained it. It actually tastes a bit better cold and my 3 year old did take it this morning with some funny looks on his face- lol. Hope it works for our family. Thanks for the very cost effective recipe.

  12. Leave a Reply

    mindyw
    February 25, 2013

    So guess what?! My 2 year old woke up Saturday a.m. a bit stuffy and coughing…and I said, nope, not if I have anything to say about it! So i ramped up his FCLO and elderberry syrup and–boom!! Healthy boy!! THANK YOU!! Making up another batch as I type 🙂

  13. Leave a Reply

    mindyw
    February 13, 2013

    Hi there, brand new to your site! And just a tad north of you, up in Rockford! I just recently got my family on FCLO because I’m SO sick of us being sick! This winter has been the WORST! I will definitely add this syrup to our daily dosage! One question about FCLO, what dosage do you recommend? I’ve been following the label and doing 1/2 tsp, but am wondering if it’s not enough because we all got sick AGAIN after being on it for about a week or two…or am I expecting too much? FTR, we do eat healthy, whole, and organic foods (though not as “real” as we could at times!), so I’m not expecting a miracle cure or anything 🙂

    • Leave a Reply

      RealFoodEater
      February 13, 2013

      @mindyw Just answered your other note – we are actually in Rockford, too! Small world! There has been a LOT of junk going around for sure. We usually do the 2ml serving size for us here on the FCLO. One thing I found is that it definitely isn’t a sudden miracle cure. Because the main things in it that help boost the immune system are Vit A and Vit D, its something I really think that needs to sort of “build up”. What I noticed as we started taking it over a year ago is that SLOWLY we got less and less sick….and when we DO get sick it is much less severe and is shorter lived.  I really believe that the combo of elderberry syrup and FCLO has been the key for us. Not only does it help the FLCO go down better (we take it all together in one shot!) but the elderberry syrup is great for preventing and treating the flu/colds. I started feeling sick last week with sore lymph nodes in my neck, congestion in my nose, etc. I took a couple extra doses of FCLO that day and the next morning I was fine! Thanks for stopping by and for your notes! Email me at melissa@ real food eater DOT com if you want info on our buyers club here in Rockford!

      • Leave a Reply

        mindyw
        February 15, 2013

        So quick question…I made this elderberry syrup last night but I’m not sure it turned out right…it’s really thin/watery. Is that normal? I simmered it even longer than suggested, and after draining there was less than a cup of liquid, to which I added the honey. I’m wondering if my honey is not the right kind? It’s from Harvest Health and it says it’s raw, but it looks like regular honey, not thick and light like other raw honey I’ve seen…could that be the problem? Either way, do you think the syrup will still be effective? And ps I’m definitely interested in the club!! Thanks 🙂

        • Leave a Reply

          RealFoodEater
          February 16, 2013

          @mindyw Yup – that’s how it should be – very liquidy. All honey is going to look different depending on what the bees were pollenating nearby, so I’m sure if it says raw it’s raw and perfect to use! I always be sure to add the honey after the elderberry part has cooled quite a bit since the honey is raw. If it is heated past 115 degrees or so it will kill the beneficial enzymes in the honey!  Enjoy it and hope it helps bring good health to your family!  I’ll email you about the buyers club!

  14. Leave a Reply

    WendySterk
    September 29, 2012

    melissa, what should the consistency be like?  Watery? or think?  like pancake syrup?  I doubled the recipe and used 1 C of honey.

    • Leave a Reply

      RealFoodEater
      September 29, 2012

       @WendySterk It should be liquidy – like a cough syrup but just a little thicker. I often decrease the honey as it gets a little sweet!

        • Leave a Reply

          Tammy
          March 2, 2012

          One more quick question. I made my first batch today! How do you store it? And how long does it last?

          • Melissa
            March 2, 2012

            I just put it in a mason jar with a cover and store in fridge!

  15. Leave a Reply

    Sarah
    November 6, 2011

    Thanks, Melissa! I’m going to make this! You can also get dried elderberries from “Kin of Hope Natural Health / Perry’s Place” in Cedar Springs. They have a great selection of herbs and such for various medicinal uses.

  16. Leave a Reply

    The Boersma Family
    January 27, 2011

    >BoersMama – Harvest Healthfood Store has them. You want to look for the black freeze-dried type!

  17. Leave a Reply

    BoersMama
    January 23, 2011

    >OOOOOO!! I will have to try this one. Are elderberries common, or do you have to go to a specialty store?? Thanks for sharing!

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