Elderberry Syrup


It is officially cold and flu season.  In my house, our first line of defense is simple: diligent hand washing, good nutrition and natural immune boosting supplements.  One of our favorite immune boosters is elderberry syrup.  Elderberry comes from the European elder tree.  These dark purple berries are loaded with vitamin c and antioxidants and are hailed for their medicinal properties.  Elderberry is used to naturally improve many illnesses such as the common cold, the flu, sinus issues, inflammation and allergies to name a few.  When taken within the first 48 hours of symptoms, its seems that elderberry reduces cold and flu symptoms and the duration by 2-4 days (Zakay-Rones, et al, 2004).

There are many forms of medicinal elderberry available commercially: syrup, lozenges, gummies and capsules.  Believe it or not, the syrup is incredibly easy to make yourself.  I prefer to make my own because I can control the sugar content.  Elderberries are quite tart and the syrup needs to be sweetened with a thick liquid sweetener.  Additionally, making it yourself is way more cost-effective.  Elderberry can be taken daily and then the daily dose should be increased when illness strikes.  Proper dosing varies based on the concentration of the syrup.  The recommended conservative daily dosage for the recipe below is ½-1 teaspoon daily for children and ½-1 tablespoon for adults.  At the onset of illness, these amounts can be taken every 2-4 waking hours until symptoms subside.

What You’ll Need:

1 cup dried organic elderberries

3 cups cold distilled water

1 teaspoon ginger

2 cinnamon sticks

1 cup honey or maple syrup

For a plant-based syrup or for use in children under age 1, maple syrup or brown rice syrup should be used in place of honey.

Mesh strainer

Metal or wooden spoon

Sterilized glass jars for storage

What You’ll Do:

  1. After sorting out any stems and light-colored berries, put the elderberries in a large pot with the water, ginger and cinnamon sticks.

Note: Consumption of raw berries or other parts of the plant is not recommended since they may contain a cyanide-inducing chemical that when consumed in sufficient quantity can make you quite ill.  (Franklin Institute of Wellness, 2018) Cooking the berries not only neutralizes the toxicity but enhances the taste and antiviral properties. 

  1. Bring the mixture to a boil.
  2. Reduce the heat and simmer for at least 45 minutes and until the liquid has reduced by half.
  3. Use the back of a metal or wooden spoon to mash the liquid out of the berries.
  4. Let the liquid cool.
  5. Use the mesh strainer to drain the liquid. Gently mash the berries to press out any remaining liquid.
  6. Stir in the liquid sweetener.
  7. Store the syrup in the sterilized glass jars. The syrup should last up to a month when properly stored in the refrigerator.  The syrup will be become rancid and/or grow mold when spoiled.

The information in this post is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease. It is always recommended that in addition to conducting your own research, you consult with your healthcare provider before using herbal or pharmaceutical products, particularly if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or taking any medications.

Franklin Institute of Wellness. (2018). The Proper Way to Make Elderberry Syrup. Retrieved from https://franklininstituteofwellness.com/proper-elderberry-syrup/

Zakay-Rones, Z., Varsano, N., Zlotnik, M., Manor, O., Regev, L., Schlesinger, M., & Mumcuoglu, M. (1995). Inhibition of several strains of influenza virus in vitro and reduction of symptoms by an elderberry extract (Sambucus nigra L.) during an outbreak of influenza B Panama. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 1(4), 361-369. Retrieved from https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/d855/d0fe65fe56faa234deb31e5c3b0bbe67432c.pdf

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