Medicinal elderberry syrup is becoming an increasingly common treatment for the cold and flu. A few years ago, I had never heard of elderberries or the awesome cold and flu virus fighting benefits they could provide. Today elderberry syrup is something I want to keep stocked in my fridge and hope you will too!
Why Elderberry Syrup is a Staple in my House
In the cold winter months when colds and the flu seem to spread easily, I give my family elderberry syrup to help keep their immune systems strong. I have 4 young kids at home – or should I say little germ factories. We do a lot of hand washing too, but inevitably someone in my family will come down with a bug at least once over the winter.
Elderberry syrup helps ward off the onset of colds and the flu plus elderberry syrup helps to shorten the length of a cold or flu. In 1999-2000 a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study was conducted on patients who had flu symptoms for 48 hours or less. One group took a placebo and the other group took 15 ml of elderberry syrup 4 times a day for 5 days. Guess what? Those that took the elderberry syrup got better 4 days earlier.
Medicinal Elderberry Syrup Recipe
7 cups of filter water
2 cups of elderberries
1 tsp. of ginger (dried or fresh grated)
2 tsp. cinnamon or 4 cinnamon sticks
1 tsp. whole cloves or clove powder
1/4 cup of dried and sifted Echinacea purpurea (in the video I used capsules because it was all I had on hand)
1 1/2 cups of honey (I recommend raw honey)
You can make half of the recipe or even cut this recipe in four’s. I have a large family so I make a pretty big batch. You can scale down to the amount you need for your family.
I typically just wash the items I will be using in the dishwasher prior to making elderberry syrup. You can also sterilize them if you are concerned about contaminating the elderberry syrup – as simple as running the sanitize cycle on your dishwasher. I’ve had success with just washing as we use most kitchen tools on a regular basis. The call is yours whether to sanitize or not.
What tools you will need
- Kitchen Pot that holds 8 cups or more
- A rubber spatula or large spoon for stirring
- Milk bag, fine mesh strainer or cheese cloth
- Container for elderberry syrup
- A funnel is optional, but makes pouring easier (I get 4 for $1 at the Dollar Tree)
How to Make Medicinal Elderberry Syrup
Combine all the ingredients above EXCEPT the HONEY in your pot.
Simmer the pot on the stove for about 1 hour until the liquid is reduced by about half.
Let the mixture cool until its still warm, but not hot.
Strain out the elderberries and other solids in the liquid with milk bag, cheese cloth or fine mesh strainer. Thoroughly squeeze all the juice out of the berries (there is a lot of good stuff in there you want).
Pour elderberry syrup into the container you plan to store it in and add 1 1/2 cups of honey. If the elderberry syrup has cooled too much it will not mix with the honey. I put it in a warm area. You want the honey to be just warm enough so it will combine easily with the elderberry mixture when shaken. (Don’t put it in the microwave – you’ll kill all the good stuff in your honey).
Store your elderberry syrup in the refrigerator. It should be good for 2-3 months – honey is a natural preservative so that will help keep it fresh. My Mom had a batch that got moldy after 7 months. If you take it regularly it won’t be around that long.
How Much Should I Take?
In our house we take it Monday – Friday in the following dosages:
1 teaspoon for kids
1 tablespoon for adults
My kids love this stuff and want to take it all the time. They actually remind me if they didn’t get their elderberry syrup for the day (thanks to the yummy honey).
If you feel yourself getting sick, take it 4-5 times a day. It is most effective if taken at the onset of symptoms, but still effective if you are already sick.
What are Elderberries?
Elderberries grow on a shrub or small tree that grow in Europe, Africa, parts of Asia and have been established in the USA as well. They are a pretty hardy plant once established. I tried to grow one, unfortunately the deer thought it was pretty tasty so the bush is struggling to survive. Both the elderberries (which turn from green to red to black when ripe) and the flower are known for their medicinal purposes.
Elderberries are high in antioxidants, helping prevent damage to your cells.
Elderberries contain anthocyanins, which makes them anti-inflammatory – helping with the achy flu symptoms and fever.
Elderberries are high in vitamin A and C, giving your immune system a boost. Elderberries reduce mucus secretions, making flu and cold symptoms more tolerable.
Elderberries themselves are poisonous when uncooked. They contain a chemical similar to cyanide – so you MUST ALWAYS COOK the elderberries before ingesting them.
Elderberry syrup should not be taken daily for a long period of time. Typically take elderberry syrup for 5-6 days and then off for 1-2 days.
Have you used eldberry syrup before?
Let me know if you’ve ever made your own or maybe you’re planning to. 🙂
What a great article. First, I like how you cited the placebo double blind study about elderberries. This really emphasized how helpful the syrup can be. You gave great detailed directions. You can tell you use this from your writing, which added to the quality of the article.
I am now a huge fan of natural remedies and herbal supplements since I have a nervous system disorder that was helped more by an herbal supplement than prescription drugs. I find it is hard to find good sources of information on natural health solutions though. Your site is a great add to this void.
On top of that, your website is beautiful and professional!
Thanks Erin! I’ve heard from many people that natural remedies and herbal supplements help when pharmaceuticals can’t. I’m glad to hear you’ve gotten some results 🙂
I have heard about an elderberry’s magic power of one of my oldest friends, but never asked for the recipe. Unfortunately, we lost the connection, and I never had a chance to learn that method. Thank you, Shannon, for posting such an awesome blog! Additionally thank you for posting a video that clearly explains how to prepare elderberry syrup! I am excited to make one for family and myself!
Glad you enjoyed the tutorial. Let me know how the elderberry syrup making went for you and your family. 🙂
Whaaat??? Elderberrys are Poisonous?? I heard the same thing about apples, that the seed of an apple is very poisonous it is just in a small doses so we don’t get sick of them. Now how do you hide those Elderberrys from your kids then? I read you have 4 kids, I would be scared to have them in the house.
I am definitely not planning to want to be sick anytime soon and I have never heard of a elderberry recipe, so I am going to try this out and let you know how good it is.
Have you tried garlic before? if you did, how would Elderberry compare to it, since garlic is also very good for boosting your immune system. or in general, how does elderberry compare to other foods
Benedetto, I had not heard that apple seeds are poisonous, my daughter often eats them when she eats an apple. I’m glad they are ok in small quantities.
I don’t hide the elderberries,but keep them on a high shelf. They look like shriveled black berries so my kids have no interest in them. They like the syrup because of the honey. Or course we are cautious with them and I would advise others to do the same.
You are right – Garlic is another way to prevent illness and a great way to shorten the duration of your symptoms if you do get sick. If I feel something coming on I use elderberry syrup and garlic together (and a few other things). I take the odorless garlic which helps cut down on the smell but my husband always notices when I’m taking it. The elderberry syrup tastes better and my kids enjoy taking it so that’s a win in my book.
Thanks so much for your suggestion and feedback. 🙂