Elderberry syrup is one of the most important tools in my home apothecary for keeping my family healthy when there are colds and flus flying around. We take it almost daily during the sickness season and completely forgo the flu shot. Let me outline a comparison between elderberry syrup and the flu shot to illustrate why we do this. At the bottom of this post is a printable recipe so that you can make your own Elderberry syrup.
- is proven against 10 strains of the flu.
- shortens the duration of both colds and flus.
- works with your body’s immune system to boost your natural immune response.
- contains vitamins A, B, and C.
- has NO risks associated with it.
The flu shot:
- is only effective against 3 or 4 flu strains.
- ranges from 19%-48% effectiveness depending on the year.
- is less effective in the people who need the protection the most, the elderly and children.
- carries risks, such as seizure, facial palsy, encephalomyelitis, convulsions. There are even 115 reported cases of death.
- contains aluminum, ethlymercury, and antibiotics. Read about these and the other undesirable ingredients in flu shots here.
I’m sold on Elderberry Syrup! Now what?
Okay, so you want to avoid the flu shot and take elderberry syrup instead, right? Well, you can buy it online, in your favorite health store, or even many drug stores and grocery stores. I recommend getting an organic version, of course. Natures’s Way and Gaia have good ones that can be found on Amazon. They come in 8 or 4 ounce bottles. It is also easy to make your own elderberry syrup. When you make your own elderberry syrup, you can customize the flavor a bit. Depending on what you like, you can add other immune enhancing ingredients such as ginger, clove, cinnamon, fennel, and/or cardamom. You can buy a pound of dried organic elderberries for about $20. This will last you ages, because you only use 3/4 of a cup per batch. Plus, your house will smell amazing while you area making it!
How to make Elderberry Syrup for cold and flu prevention:
- 3/4 cup dried organic elderberries
- one quart of filtered water
- 1 cup of raw, organic honey
- optional spices: ginger, clove, cinnamon, fennel, cardamom
- Put the elderberries, water, and spices (except fennel) in a pot.
- Bring it to a boil.
- Turn the heat down to simmer (usually medium-low).
- Once the mixture is reduced by half, remove from heat and let cool. Strain out the berries/spices. Be sure to squish out the berries to get all the goodness out of them. You can do this with a wooden spoon and a sieve or pour the mixture through cheesecloth so that you can use your hands to squeeze it out.
- Once the mixture is about room temperature (or just above), you can mix in the honey. Honey has beneficial enzymes and microbes that can be killed by heat, so just be patient.
- Transfer to a glass container that is easy to pour from. I use pretty flip-top bottle like these and put a waterproof label on it. Keep it refrigerated. This recipe makes about 2 and half cups.
Should I add other spices? What do the other spices do?
- Ginger: anti-inflammatory. Also good for settling upset tummies and helps the body sweat our toxins. I always add a knob of ginger, thinly sliced, to the berries before bringing to a boil.
- Cinnamon: antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and contains antioxidants. (Also balances blood sugar.) I usually add one cinnamon stick to the berries before bringing to a boil.
- Clove: antimicrobial and antiviral. Clove is a strong flavor, so I usually just add 2 or 3 cloves to the berries before boiling.
- Fennel: boosts white blood cells, is antibacterial and anti-fungal. My kids are super sensitive to the licorice-y taste of fennel, so I do not add it to our elderberry (syrup at this time). I add fennel to my morning tea blend, so at least I get it that way. My recommendations for adding it to elderberry syrup are to put 1/2-1 teaspoon into the berry mixture just in the last few minutes of simmering.
- Cardamom: helps clear congestion from colds, settles digestion and is antispasmodic (this is good for coughs and stomach cramps.) I love cardamom! I add cardamom seeds to my morning tea blend as well. For elderberry syrup, I add a few cardamom pods to the berries before bringing to a boil.
Tips for adding Elderberry syrup to your home apothecary:
- Elderberry is great for hiding things in! We put our virgin cod liver oil in ours. My kids drink it up and look forward to it!
- The standard dose for a child is 1/2 teaspoon daily and 1/2 tablespoon for adults.
- If you or a family member is coming down with something, bump up the dose to 3 or 4 times a day.
- I add echinacea tincture (go here to find out how to make your own tinctures) to the elderberry if one of us seems to be coming down with something.
- Don’t freak out if you miss a day or two here and there. That is actually a good thing. I subscribe to the sentiment that you really shouldn’t take anything every day. I like to take weekends off from most supplements.
I have to take the flu shot for work. Is there anything I can do to help my body detox those dangerous ingredients?
If you are required to get a flu shot because of your line of work, you can help speed your body’s recovery and detox by eating “clean” and taking one or more of the following:
Milk Thistle: Your liver has a huge job on any given day with the onslaught of modern toxins, but after a flu shot, it can’t hurt to give it a little extra help. Milk thistle is a great liver protective that also boost the liver’s detoxifying capabilities. It can be found in capsules, tea, and tinctures.
Chlorella: This amazing algae binds to metals in your body and helps escort them out. This is particularly helpful for shots with mercury or aluminum added to them. Be sure to get “broken cell wall” chlorella so that your body can actually use it.
- 3/4 cup dried organic elderberries
- filtered water
- optional spices: ginger, cinnamon, fennel, cloves, and/or cardamom pods or seeds
- one cup raw honey, organic
- Put the elderberries, water, and spices (except fennel) in a pot. Bring it to a boil.
- Turn the heat down to medium- low to simmer.
- Once the mixture is reduced by half, remove from heat, let cool, and then strain out the berries/spices. Be sure to squish out the berries to get all the goodness out of them. You can do this with a wooden spoon and a sieve or pour the mixture through cheesecloth so that you can use your hands to squeeze it out.
- Be sure to let the liquid cool down before you touch it and before you add the honey. Honey has beneficial enzymes and microbes that can be killed by heat, so just be patient.
- Once the mixture is about room temperature (or just above), you can mix in the honey.
- Transfer to a glass container that is easy to pour from. I use pretty flip-top bottle like these and put a waterproof label on it. Keep it refrigerated. This recipe makes a bit more than 2 cups.
- Kids take 1/2 teaspoon a day for prevention and 1/2 teaspoon 3 times a day during a cold or flu for treatment. Adults take 1/2 tablespoon a day for prevention and 1/2 tablespoon 3 times a day during a cold or flu for treatment.