Sarena-Rae Santos is a contributing writer.
If you haven’t read Is Elderberry Really The Best Flu Remedy? or our Elderberry Herbal Profile, I highly recommend doing so. These two posts are great starter points to understanding this remarkable yet often misunderstood herb. From not using elderberry if you have an autoimmune disease to taking elderberry will cause a cytokine storm and kill you; the misconstrued claims can be overwhelming.
A quick review of some elderberry benefits include:
- May support the immune system
- Rich in antioxidants
- May improve cold and flu symptoms
- Supports heart health
- May help fight cancer
- May lower blood sugar levels and reduce insulin dependence
- Supports skin health
- May improve allergy symptoms
The bottom line is that elderberry has many exceptional properties and appears safe in all studied populations. I would recommend, personally:
- Taking elderberry daily, in small amounts, unless you have a negative reaction to it (not all herbs are for all people!)
- Using from August – March, during the majority of flu season, especially if symptoms develop or if you have been exposed
- Caution is warranted in individuals with autoimmune conditions. Generally, I recommend trying elderberry for immune support when not sick to see how you’ll react to it. Don’t try it for the first time when sick. If you find you respond negatively to elderberry, astragalus root may be a better option.
Elderberry and Other Natural Remedies for Colds
As we know, elderberries are really potent medicine, and they can have a strong effect on several conditions–flu, cold, strep throat, and other bacterial infections! If someone in your house comes down with one of these, shows potential symptoms, or is exposed to these, begin dosing with this DIY syrup as quickly as possible.
Continue doing so for 2 – 5 days until symptoms abate, and follow up with lots of probiotics (especially those that contain lactobacillus plantarum or s. boulardii) and cod liver oil. Fresh pineapple juice (including the core) may also prove beneficial during the illness. All my research (see last week’s post) leads me to think this is probably the most effective remedy for these symptoms.
There are many other herbs and treatments that are beneficial as well, of course. Many swear by oregano oil, olive leaf extract, colloidal silver, garlic, various other essential oils and herbs, and so on. I think these, too, can have a place in the medicine cabinet. Everyone’s body chemistry is different, and their “most effective” remedy will be.
Elderberry syrup is the best general remedy I have found–the one I have found the most evidence for in larger populations. The other remedies are not all as well studied. Feel free to use or include whatever else you have personally researched or have found works for you.
I recommend freezing this syrup after an illness is finished so it will last. It should last 1 – 2 months in the fridge, though.
As always, if an infection is not responding to home care and symptoms are worrying, call a doctor. This is not medical advice, and in a medical emergency – such as if a child is truly lethargic, having difficulty breathing, etc. – you should seek medical help instead of looking here.
DIY: Ultimate Elderberry Syrup
Ultimate Elderberry Syrup
- 1 cup dried elderberries
- 4 cups filtered water
- 4-1/4" slices fresh ginger
- 1 lemon juiced
- 1/2 cup raw honey or grade B maple syrup
- Mix the dried elderberries, water, and fresh ginger in a medium saucepan, turn the pan on low-medium, and heat until it begins to simmer.
- Simmer this for 20 - 30 minutes, checking carefully to ensure it doesn't boil too hard or the water doesn't boil away. Add a bit of extra water if you need to.
- When the syrup is cooked, allow it to cool for a while. Then, strain the syrup through a sieve. You should end up with around 2 cups of juice.
- Discard the berries and ginger. Allow the mixture to cool to lukewarm. Add the honey.
- Add the lemon juice before stirring to combine completely. Pour it into a glass jar for storage and put it in the fridge. Your elderberry syrup is finished!