DIY – Elderberry Syrup

Our holiday guests have come and gone, though for many of us this time of year, there are a few ‘guests’ that linger and make our lives pretty miserable…  Our own home was recently invaded by the dreaded tummy bug and several feverish colds… yuck!

Fortunately, there is a home remedy for times like this, and it’s DELICIOUS!

Elderberry syrup.

Why elderberries?  Black elderberries (Sambucus nigra) are nutritious, rich in flavonoids, and high in vitamin C, vitamin A, bioflavonoids, betacarotene, iron, and potassium. (Gladstar, 2012).  In laymen’s terms:  these berries stimulate the immune system and help our bodies battle some nasty bugs.  The health benefits of these powerhouse berries extend further to alleviate allergies, lower blood sugar, help with weight loss, moderate the digestive process and even slow down the spread of cancer.

Dr. Madeleine Mumcuoglu, of Hadassah-Hebrew University in Israel, found that the elderberry disarms the enzyme viruses use to penetrate healthy cells in the lining of the nose and throat.  Taken before infection, it prevents infection. Taken after infection, it prevents spread of the virus through the respiratory tract.  Dr. Mumcuoglu first tested her research on patients in the Southern Israel flu epidemic of 1992/3:

“The results were extremely encouraging. Within 24 hours, 20% of those patients taking [the elderberry supplement] had dramatic improvements in symptoms like fever, muscle aches and pains and coughing. By the second day, 73% were improved and by day three, 90%. In the untreated group, only 16% felt better after two days. The majority of that group took almost a week to begin feeling better.”

As always, ‘more research is needed’ (*insert eye roll*), but I’d say the existing research is pretty convincing!

A word of caution, though –  elderberry source is important!  The branches, seeds, leaves, and twigs of the elderberry plants contain trace amounts of cyanide, which can build up in your body over time and cause you significant harm.  Ripe elderberries, when cooked, should be of no concern, though please stick to dosage recommendations and consult with your healthcare provider before taking any elderberry supplements.

The recipe below also calls for synergistic additions of ginger, clove and cinnamon – all of which help support a healthy immune system.  Since I did not have these raw ingredients on hand, I decided to use essential oil replacements.  If you want to use the raw ingredients, you need to add them to the initial boil with the elderberries, from which they will be strained prior to adding honey.

Using essential oils in this recipe gives you the benefits of raw ginger, clove and cinnamon in a highly concentrated form, and without the need to simmer, steep or marinate.  In fact, high heat cooking (especially too long!) can often destroy beneficial chemical constituents of raw herbs.  Due to the SEED-TO-SEAL® process behind Young Living essential oils, I can trust in their benefits as part of my herbal kitchen.  Added after the heating process, these essential oils effectively replace and improve upon the raw equivalent.

But, enough of all the science – on to the good stuff!

ELDERBERRY SYRUP

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 cup dried elderberries
  • 2 cups water
  • 3/4 cups raw honey
  • 2 drops of Ginger Vitality™ *
  • 1 drop of Clove Vitality™ *
  • 1 drop of Cinnamon Bark Vitality™ *

*Optional – raw ingredients:  2 Tbls freshly grated ginger, 1 tsp whole cloves and 1 tsp ground cinnamon (or 1 cinnamon stick).

DIRECTIONS:

Bring elderberries (and any raw herbs) to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat and strain the ‘elderberry tea’ into a glass jar.  Discard the raw materials (or compost).  Let the mix come to room temperature before adding honey and essential oils.  Stir.  Done!  It’s that easy!

Store in a closed glass jar in the fridge for up to two weeks (there are no preservatives, so this has a pretty short shelf life).  You can freeze any remaining syrup and save for later.

DOSAGE:  adults may take up to 1 TABLESPOON per day for general immune support, while children over 1 year of age may take ½ to 1 TEASPOON per day (stick to the lower dosage at first).**  When the flu strikes, take the normal dose up to THREE times per day until symptoms disappear.

You may need to stir prior to each use.  Be especially cautious when giving the syrup to children, as essential oils have a tendency to collect at the surface (stir well, or add to milk to help the oils mix).

**Raw honey is not recommended for children under 1.  To make a syrup more suitable for younger children (6+ months), try replacing the raw honey in this recipe with ½ cup of molasses (add more molasses as needed to thicken the syrup).  Stick to the ½ teaspoon dosage for children with this modification. 

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For some more great information about harvesting, processing and preparing elderberries, CLICK HERE.

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Have you tried elderberry syrup?  How has it worked for you and your family?  Share your story in the comment section.

Reference:

Gladstar, Rosemary. (2012). Medicinal Herbs A Beginners Guide. North Adams, MA, Storey Publishing. 

DISCLAIMER:  The information provided in this article has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.  As always, consult with your healthcare provider prior to taking any herbal supplements. 

 

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