My youngest started nursery for the first time this year, which means lots of macaroni art for the fridge and a constant onslaught of colds and flu (which he generously passed to the rest of the family). A few mamas in my tribe suggested we try elderberry syrup, and I set off to Dr. Google to research the health benefits of elderberry syrup.
Health Benefits of Elderberry Syrup
According to herbwisdom.com, elderberries have been used for centuries for the prevention and treatment of colds, flu, yeast infections, nasal and chest congestion, and hay fever. Elderberry is used for sinus pain, sciatica, nerve pain (neuralgia), and chronic fatigue syndrome. Some researchers claim to have had success treating cancer, AIDS, asthma, diabetes, and obesity with the berries as well (probably due to the immune boosting function).
Black elderberries contain tannin, amino acids, carotenoids, flavonoids, rutin, viburnic acid, and vitamins A, B, and C. They are mildly laxative, a diuretic, and diaphoretic. Flavonoids, including quercetin, are believed to account for the therapeutic actions of the elderberry plant. According to research, flavonoids include anthocyanins that are powerful antioxidants and protect cells against damage. (WebMD)
I sent an email off to my holistic health practitioner, Hisham, who recommended buying or making elderberry syrup for the whole family to help treat our symptoms and support immune health.
Deep in the throes of two sick kiddos, a sick mama, and a husband with man-flu (the horror!), I wasn’t feeling up to making my own syrup so I ordered a bottle from iHerb. Have I mentioned how much I love iHerb? It’s hard to find certain products here in the UAE, especially natural and holistic products, and iHerb can ship everything I need right to my door within 24-48 hours. We got the order the next day and started taking a teaspoon each daily. Coincidence or not, we were all feeling better within 2 days and continued to take a daily dose as preventive measure.
By the time we finished the bottle I was ready to try making my own elderberry syrup. I ordered a pound of dried organic berries (from iHerb, natch) and asked around for recipes. I’m a bit of a purist and decided to use only elderberries (it’s common to add cinnamon, cloves, or other herbs to the syrup). It’s so simple to make–just simmer, mash, strain and you’ll be armed with enough delicious homemade elderberry syrup to get your whole family through the cold and flu season. I can’t wait to experiment with elderberry jam and wine (in the name of holistic health, of course!)
1/2 cup dried elderberries
2 cups water
1 cup raw local honey
In a small saucepan, combine the elderberries and water and simmer until the liquid is reduced by half. Mash the berries with the back of a spoon and strain into a bowl. Once cool, stir the elderberry juice and honey together and store in a glass jar or bottle in your fridge up to 2 months.
You can add cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ground vanilla, or other herbs during the simmer stage to change the flavor and add even more health benefits. I plan to make a jar of elderberry syrup with cinnamon and vanilla as soon as our current one is finished. If your kids are picky or don’t like the syrup, add some unflavored gelatin and you’ll end up with gummies (plus the gut healing power of gelatin–yay!)
There isn’t an exact dosage, much as there isn’t for taking honey or bone broth. It’s recommended to take 1/2 to 1 teaspoon daily, several days per week. If you do become sick, this can be increased to 1/2 to 1 teaspoon every few hours to help reduce the severity and duration of symptoms. The syrup is lovely on its own but also delicious on pancakes, porridge, ice cream, and yogurt. I like to stir a spoonful into herbal tea and homemade, unsweetened kefir.
Have you experienced the health benefits of elderberry syrup? Share your favorite elderberry syrup recipe in the comments!