Simple Elderberry Syrup to Boost Immunity (or Drizzle on Pancakes!)Updated: March 18, 2017Natural Remedies
When my children had whooping cough 8 years ago (all at the same time, no less!), I relied heavily on elderberry syrup. Small doses throughout the day kept the mucous to a minimum which reduced the severity and frequency of coughing spells at night.
I never realized until that particular time that this common, nondescript little berry, particularly when concentrated into elderberry syrup, packed such a powerful punch when it comes to managing cough symptoms even for an illness as severe as pertussis. The fact is, elderberry in many different forms has been used in folk medicine for centuries to treat flus, colds and sinusitis as well as coughs.
During my children’s bout with pertussis, I purchased elderberry syrup from our family chiropractor. It was a bit pricey, but definitely worth it especially for my youngest child, who was only 15 months at the time.
I have since learned that it is extremely easy and cost effective to make elderberry syrup yourself.
The simple elderberry syrup recipe below contains only 3 ingredients with a single batch enough to take your family through an entire cold/flu season!
Elderberry Syrup in Scientific Literature
Elderberry syrup is not just good for when you are sick either. It is a highly effective preventative too as it is loaded with antioxidants, Vitamin C and immune supporting minerals.
Scientific research is supporting the use of elderberries for illness. In one study, elderberry extract inhibited several strains of influenza and reduced symptoms. In another, elderberry syrup flavonoids were found effective against the H1N1 (Swine Flu) virus.
In the most compelling study, a randomized trial of 60 patients aged 18-54 suffering from flu symptoms for 48 hours or less received 15 ml (3 teaspoons) of elderberry syrup or a placebo 4x per day for five days. Researchers observed that “Symptoms were relieved on average 4 days earlier and use of rescue medication was significantly less in those receiving elderberry extract compared with placebo”.
Besides being effective at preventing and reducing symptoms, elderberry syrup also has highly practical applications as well. It is delicious drizzled on pancakes and waffles, or healthy homemade ice cream when a sore throat takes hold and something cold on the throat is especially welcome.
In addition, elderberry syrup can help get less appealing whole food supplements like cod liver oil down the hatch for your little ones.
Tip: A teaspoon of elderberry syrup is a fantastic chaser after the daily dose of cod liver oil. If your kids dislike the taste of cod liver oil, a spoon of elderberry syrup afterward will placate them. It is a tasty treat that will quickly eliminate any aftertaste and help quell fishy burps.
I would recommend making a batch of this elderberry syrup and having on hand in the pantry year round. It is helpful anytime colds, flu and coughs are making the rounds in your household.
Suggested Elderberry Syrup Dosage
A single teaspoon of homemade elderberry syrup once or twice a day is sufficient as a preventative measure. If illness strikes, use more as necessary, with up to 3 teaspoons, 4x per day as used in the randomized study described above. For young children who cannot have raw honey yet, half the maximum dosage is recommended and either dilute the syrup with hot water before serving. Another option is to heat the elderberry syrup on the stove in a small pan before administering to pasteurize the honey.
Simple Elderberry Syrup Recipe
This 3 ingredient elderberry syrup is simple and fast to make and uses raw honey to boost healing and antibiotic properties.
Place dried elderberries (or 1 cup fresh, ripe elderberries if you have them locally) and filtered water in a medium saucepan.
Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer on medium-low for 30 minutes.
Remove pan from heat and mash the elderberries to release any remaining juice.
Strain the mixture into a glass bowl using a cheesecloth (I use these).
When the liquid has come to body temperature or lower (about 30 minutes), gently stir in the raw honey and mix thoroughly.
Store and label in small, 8 or 12 ounce glass, amber bottles (I use these).
It is very important to allow the syrup to cool before stirring in the raw honey else the heat will destroy the honey's antibiotic properties.
This mixture will last many months in a cool, dark pantry or in the refrigerator.
Please do not make this recipe with the juice of pressed, raw elderberries. Raw elderberry syrup is a big no-no for the reasons cited in the linked article. Raw is not always better!
Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
Sources and Related Information
Elderberry Extract Inhibits Several Strains of Influenza
Elderberry Flavonoids bind to and prevent H1N1 Infection in Vitro
Randomized Study of the Efficacy and Safety of Oral Elderberry Extract
The Master Tonic: Natural Flu Anti-viral
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