Elderberry Syrup

elderberry

Elderberry is an antiviral herb high in antioxidants, and has been shown in studies (1, 2, 3) to be effective against the common cold and ten strains of influenza, reducing the duration and severity of symptoms. There is also evidence of elderberry possibly being effective as a prophylactic in preventing viral infection, as it appears to fortify cell membranes to prevent virus penetration.

Controversy
There are a lot of conflicting opinions on social media regarding whether elderberry is safe for people with autoimmune conditions and whether it’s safe for anyone to take for long periods of time as a prophylactic. Some have expressed concern that elderberry increases inflammatory cytokines, so it’s important to note that it also increases anti-inflammatory cytokines. Whole plant extracts tend to have built in checks and balances like this, unlike isolated compounds used in other substances, such as pharmaceutical drugs.

The other concern is with long term use of elderberry. Some people insist that it’s safe to take daily for months at a time, while others strictly only use it during active infection. My opinion, based on my own research and experience with elderberry (and I have an autoimmune condition), is that the middle ground is generally the place to be. Common sense tells us that it’s probably not a good idea to have the immune system ramped up on high alert all the time, especially when you have an autoimmune disease that already means you have an overactive immune system. In my opinion, it is okay to use elderberry prophylactically when the benefits outweigh the theoretical risk. For example, if someone in my house has flu, I would take elderberry prophylactically to protect myself until it’s gone. If I worked in health care or at a daycare where my exposure to viral infections was very high during “cold and flu season,” I would take elderberry prophylactically in an on and off pattern, giving my body a week off from it here and there, during the times when I am at high risk of viral exposure. If I am someone who mostly stays home during peak flu season, and I am not at high risk of contracting viral infections, I would take elderberry only at the onset of symptoms and stop once the infection is gone. But keep in mind that when it comes to any kind of remedy, nothing is one size fits all, so it’s always wise to pay attention to how your body responds to elderberry.

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Recipes
Elderberry can be prepared many different ways ranging from tinctures to syrups, and there are as many ways to make elderberry syrup as there are to make chicken soup. Everyone has their own way of doing it. Today I’m going to share three tried and true elderberry syrup recipes of my own, ranging from the simplest with the least ingredients to the most potent formula with added ingredients for extra immune support.

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Basic Elderberry Syrup
(Makes about 3 cups)

Ingredients
1 cup dried elderberries
6 cups distilled water
1 1/2 cups raw local honey

Instructions
1.Bring berries and water to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer on low about 30 minutes.

2. Strain out berries and return liquid to pan.

3. Simmer until liquid reduces by about half.

4. Remove from heat and cool completely.

5. Add raw honey and stir until well blended.

6. Bottle and store in the refrigerator.

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Better Elderberry Syrup
(Makes about 3 cups)

Ingredients
1 cup dried elderberries
6 cups distilled water
3 TBSP fresh grated ginger
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cups raw local honey

Instructions
1. Bring berries, ginger, and water to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer on low for about 30 minutes.

2. Strain and return liquid to pan.

3. Add cloves and cinnamon.

4. Simmer on low until liquid reduces by about half.

5. Remove from heat and cool completely.

6. Add raw honey and stir until well blended.

7. Bottle and store in the refrigerator.

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Best Elderberry Syrup
(Makes about 3 cups)

Ingredients
1 cup dried elderberries
6 cups distilled water
3 TBSP fresh grated ginger
2 TBSP dried rose hips
1 TBSP elder flowers
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cups raw local honey

Instructions
1. Bring berries, ginger, rose hips, flowers, and water to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer on low for about 30 minutes.

2. Strain and return liquid to pan.

3. Add cloves and cinnamon.

4. Simmer until liquid reduces by about half.

5. Remove from heat and cool completely.

6. Add raw honey and stir until well blended.

7. Bottle and store in the refrigerator.

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Usage Guidelines
Daily support: Adults and children over 12, take 1 tablespoon 1x per day. Children 12 months-11 years, take 1 teaspoon.

Acute support: 3x per day

(For children 6 months-11 months: Substitute pure maple syrup instead of honey. 1/2 teaspoon-1 teaspoon)

Notes

  • Although the suggested amounts listed above work well for most people, some people are more sensitive to elderberry. If loose stools or other GI discomforts occur, back the dosage down. This occurs sometimes when too much is taken.
  • Ginger root is easiest to grate after it has been hardened up in the freezer for a bit. No need to peel the ginger for this recipe, as it’s going to be strained out anyway.
  • The elderberry syrup will not be very thick as some people may imagine a syrup to be (e.g. corn syrup). It will be a bit on the runny side. This is normal.
  • Some people like to buy decorative bottles for their elderberry syrup, but you can use just about anything from a mason jar to a repurposed apple cider vinegar bottle.
  • You can use measuring spoons or medicine cups to take the elderberry syrup. I have found that pouring it into medicine cups is less messy.
  • The shelf life in the refrigerator is several months to a year, as long as you use raw honey and don’t heat it. Just keep an eye out for mold and discard if it occurs. (I’ve never had to throw any away.)
  • When substituting pure maple syrup for the honey, the shelf life may be shorter.
  • You can freeze elderberry syrup for a longer shelf life. I sometimes split my batch up into smaller containers and freeze some portions for later use.

2 thoughts on “Elderberry Syrup

  1. Could this be an option to try for a child with juvenile arthritis (autoimmune) and re-occurring inflammation in tendon sheaths (fluid) ?

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