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You’ve heard about the health benefits of elder and elderberries, but what’s all the hype about? Does elderberry really have any affect on the body’s ability to fight the flu? I’ve got some answers for you, as well as the recipe for how to make elderberry syrup!
What is Elderberry?
Black Elder, also known by the botanical name Sambucus, is a 10-30 foot tree that likes moist areas from brooks, creeks, suburban areas and farmland. Elderberry is rich in vitamin A, B and C, as well as antioxidant flavanoids and iron.
The bark, leaves, flowers and berries can be used medicinally.
There are two forms of elder, one bearing red berries that are toxic and the other bearing black berries, which are edible and larger in size. Black Elder has been used historically for health support and for food.
Does it Really Fight the Flu?
Elderberry has been the subject of much study and research. Both the elder flower and the elderberry have many uses during cold and flu season.
Taken at early onset, elderberry can reduce the duration of cold/flu because it interferes with virus replication and strengthens cell walls to inhibit viral penetration. (Source)
- In one study on humans, 60 patients, age 18-54, who had contracted the flu and demonstrating symptoms for the last 48 hours, were studied. In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, participants were given 15 ml (1/2 oz) of elderberry syrup or placebo for 5 days. They found that symptoms were relieved an average of 4 days sooner in the elderberry group. (Source: Herbal Anti-virals: Natural Remedies for Emerging & Resistant Viral Infections, Stephen Harrod Buhner)
- In another placebo-controlled, double-blind study using Sambucol (a syrup containing elderberry juice), significant improvements in flu symptoms were seen in 93.3% of the elderberry treated group within 2 days. Only 91.7% of the patients in the control group showed improvement within 6 days (Source and Zakay-Rones, 1995).
- Another source claims that from an antimicrobial standpoint, elder is effective against the flu (shown to be effective against 8 different strains of influenza), fever, mumps, measles, hepatitis B, dengue fever, polio and rotavirus. (Source: Heal Local: 20 Essential Herbs for Do-it-Yourself Home Healthcare, pg. 101)
Intriguing, isn’t it?
Does this leave you wondering how to make your own elderberry syrup at home?
There are a number of Elderberry syrup recipes on the internet.
I have listed the ingredient measurements first from the recipe I personally use, however, the measurements in the parenthesis are acceptable. You may want to experiment with the taste and modify it.
Elderberry Syrup Recipe
- 3 1/2 cups of water (3-4 cups)
- 2/3 cup dried black elderberries (2/3 – 1)
- 2 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
- 1 tsp cinnamon or one cinnamon stick
- 2 tbsp. dried Echinacea root
- 1/2 tsp. cloves (1 tsp)
- 1 cup raw honey
- Put everything in a small pot except the honey.
- Bring to a boil and then let simmer for about an hour, until the mixture’s consistency is that of syrup.
- Remove from heat and let cool.
- Strain the solids from the mixture in a mason jar, smashing the solids in your strainer to get all the juices out.
- When the mixture has cooled down a bit, add the honey.
- Store in refrigerator, keeps for 2 months.
- Personally, I take 2 tbsp. per day during cold and flu season.
This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.