Elderberry Syrup for Keeping Colds and Flus at bay
Winter is here and my goal is to help you feel your best and keep you healthy! I teamed up with my amazing pal Jessa Blades, Herbalist and Natural Beauty Expert, to bring you this simple and delicious recipe for Elderberry Syrup!
Let’s talk about how to make elderberry syrup to prevent colds & flu…
I love making this simple, delicious brew every fall to help keep us healthy and well throughout the colder winter months. Winter means we’re met with reduced sunlight and fresh-air along with more time spent indoors, therefore this season can put us at greater risk of getting sick, and who has time for that? 😉
Elderberry syrup is fabulous both as a preventative medicine and a gentle treatment for when colds and flus strike. Additionally, elderberries support our immune systems and are a great source of phytonutrients, including anthocyanins. We use raw, local honey as a preservative and add ginger, cloves and cinnamon for their warming qualities as the winter winds descend.
How do I get started?
While you can buy elderberry syrup at your local, family-owned, independent herb or health food shop, we love making our own. It’s super quick and easy, not to mention it fills the house with delicious smells for days. On a witchy-tip, we also love that you can add an intention to the syrup as you blend it, making it the perfect medicine for you and your own needs for the coming winter.
- 1 cup dried black elderberries, or 1 1/3 cups fresh or frozen
- 3 1⁄2 cups water
- 2 TBSP fresh or dried ginger root
- 1 tsp cinnamon powder or 1-2 cinnamon stick (cook longer if adding cinnamon sticks)
- 1⁄2 tsp cloves or clove powder
- 1 cup raw honey
Optional add ins we love:
(Avena Sativa): one of my go-to nutritive herbs. It has an affinity for the nervous system and is high in minerals (iron, calcium, magnesium) and vitamins. Oatstraw is a restorative herb for folks who feel depleted or run down. This herb is also lovely for those dealing with adrenal concerns or burn out and pairs well with elderberry as a daily tonic throughout the colder months.
(Lavandula angustifolia): a beautiful, gentle, calming herb. Lavender helps to reduces anxiety, aids insomnia and supports restful sleep. We add it to our elderberry syrup for these medicinal reasons, but also because it tastes so darn good!
This herb is a potent immune system booster that helps prevent colds and flus. It has a number of antioxidant benefits and is reported to be useful for the heart and kidneys as it increases circulation and oxygen delivery. We also find that astragalus can be a nice energy booster! However, if you’re dealing with autoimmunity, astragalus is not for you, especially if you’re on immune-modulating drugs. It can boost the immune system too much for some folks and thus can interfere with immune medications. Therefore we suggest using astragalus root in small doses as it can cause headaches if used in large doses. In this recipe, we use just a small handful in a huge pot of syrup!
The How To:
- Chose an intention to infuse into your syrup: love, light, laughter, wholeness, release of negativity/infusion of positivity… the options are endless.
- Pour filtered water into medium saucepan and add elderberries, ginger, cinnamon, cloves and optional herbs.
- Bring to a boil and cover.
- Reduce heat until the liquid is simmering and cook for approximately 1 hour until the liquid has reduced by almost half – we like to keep the fire really low and simmer for closer to 2 hours to get a stronger brew.
- Remove from heat and let cool until you can safely handle it without burning yourself.
- Smoosh the berries carefully using a spoon or mortar to get all of the juice out of them.
- Pour through cheesecloth or a strainer (we always use a strainer) into a glass bowl.
- Optional step: mash the berries again onto the strainer to get that last juice out.
- Compost your elderberries and herbs, let the liquid cool to lukewarm.
- Once the liquid has cooled through, add your honey and mix it in well.
- When the honey is combined thoroughly with the elderberry mixture, pour the syrup into a quart sized mason jar or several smaller bottles so you can have one at home, one at the office, etc.
- Congrats! You just made homemade elderberry syrup. Store in the fridge and take daily for its immune boosting properties. Some sources recommend taking only during the week and not on the weekends to boost immunity.
Instant Pot option:
Put all ingredients in pot, seal lid, and set manually for 9 minutes on high pressure. Vent pressure and strain. We prefer to use fire for cooking this medicine, but don’t let perfect be the enemy of good – an instant pot is a lovely option here.
Daily maintenance dose is 1⁄2 tsp – 1 tsp daily for kids and 1⁄2 – 1 TBSP daily for adults.
If you do feel like you’re getting sick or if a loved one comes home feeling unwell, take the dosing above every 2-3 hours instead of just once/day until you’re feeling better, then you can go back to once/day dosing.
We hope this simple recipe helps you keep those colds and illness at bay all winter long! Wishing you a wonderful winter season full of lots of cozy tea and kitchen medicine.
Victoria Albina, NP, MPH is a licensed and board certified Family Nurse Practitioner, herbalist and life coach, with 20 years experience in health and wellness. She trained at the University of California, San Francisco, and holds a Masters in Public Health from Boston University and a bachelors from Oberlin College. She comes to this work having been a patient herself, and having healed from a lifetime of IBS, GERD, SIBO, fatigue, depression and anxiety.
She is passionate about her work, and loves supporting patients in a truly holistic way - body, mind, heart and spirit. A native of Mar del Plata, Argentina, she grew up in the great state of Rhode Island, and lives in NYC with her partner. A brown dog named Frankie Bacon has her heart, and she lives for steak and a good dark chocolate.
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