My boys and I are sick. We’ve tried hard to avoid all the nasty germs going around right now, but we’ve also had to balance that with not going stir crazy stuck inside all the time! This time, the germs won.
When we have head colds or flu-like symptoms, I always turn to Elderberries.
Elderberries are incredible, truly. The entire Elder shrub has been used in folk medicine for thousands of years, and modern research is proving that the berries are a legitimate folk remedy.
Two interesting double-blind, placebo-controlled studies showed that Elderberry had a remarkable effectiveness in reducing symptoms of flu-like illness. In both studies, the majority of patients (93.3% in one study!) taking Elderberry had significant improvements in two days. By comparison, the patients taking a placebo needed an average of six days to recover from their symptoms. Both studies were small and the official consensus seems to be that Elderberry needs more research, but the results are compelling!
Beyond this, Elderberries are simply full of nutrients. The berries are full of fiber, as well as Vitamins A and C, and Potassium. They are rich in antioxidants, and seem to have an anti-inflammatory effect on the body.
I normally keep dried Elderberries in my pantry so that I can whip up a quick batch of syrup when we get sick, but I was out this time. Our local health food stores were out too, and I had to wait three days to have a bag shipped to me. I won’t make that mistake again!
We’re all happy to finally have some elderberry syrup again, and hope we kick this sickness to the curb quickly! I’ve shared my recipe below, although you can certainly skip the cinnamon/ginger/cloves. We just love the added spices!
How to Make Elderberry Syrup ***UPDATED
- 1/2 cup dried elderberries
- 3 cups water
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 cup raw honey
Combine your elderberries, water, and cinnamon in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and allow to simmer for 30-45 minutes, until the water is reduced by half. About halfway through the simmer, give the elderberries a good mash with a spoon or potato masher.
Once the liquid is reduced, strain the liquid into a clean jar. You can use a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth. Either squeeze the elderberries or press them with a spoon to get every last bit of goodness out of them!
Allow the liquid to cool, then add the raw honey and mix well. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
Side note: It’s fabulous as a pancake syrup or as a sweetener for green tea!
A few other notes:
- While elderberries are generally considered to be safe, you should ALWAYS do your own research before trying herbal remedies.
- Uncooked elderberries and large doses of elderberries can cause stomach upset.
- Because elderberries can stimulate the immune system, they may decrease the effectiveness of immunosuppressant medications.
- Finally, honey is not considered safe for babies under the age of 1-2 due to the risk of botulism.
***I updated the recipe to how I currently make it, with half the honey, and with just a pinch of cinnamon instead of the cinnamon/clove/ginger combination. We find it even tastier with less sweetness. The elderberry really shines!