You don't know this about me, but I'm a big fan of zombies. Ok, maybe "fan" is the wrong word here... I should say that I love watching movies and TV series about zombies. The Walking Dead starts in 12 days, so I'm pretty happy. What do zombies have to do with my post today? I am so glad you asked! :)
In The Walking Dead, there's a fatal virus that hits a community of people and Dr. Hershel finds elderberries, makes tea, and saves a whole bunch of them.
Now I know that it's just a TV series (a pretty good one, I might add), but elderberries have been used for thousands of years as a very effective medicine. Elderberries are known to support the immune system against viruses like cold and flu. It makes sense then that elderberries are often referred to as "nature's flu shot."
While there are many foods, plants, herbs, etc that boost your immune system, elderberry syrup is by far the tastiest thing I've come across. This is important to me because I can't bring myself to eat or drink anything that doesn't taste good to me and this syrup is also a huge hit with my kids.
It tastes good and is good for us--Perfect!
You'll be able to find many variations of elderberry syrup online, and these variations are mostly just personal preference. Different ratios of liquid will yield a different consistency and different ingredients will change the taste. So I've made this recipe as a starting off point for you and you can tweak it if you so desire!
- Elderberries - high in antioxidants and flavonoids; has anti-viral properties
- Raw honey - contains vitamins, minerals, enzymes and antioxidants; has anti-fungal, anti-bacterial & anti-viral properties
- Raw apple cider vinegar - contains vitamins, minerals and enzymes; breaks up mucous and supports the lymphatic system
Note: in the below recipe, the honey and ACV are added into the decoction once it has cooled, so that the beneficial enzymes and other nutrients are not destroyed with heat.
The following ingredients add additional immune support, plus flavour the syrup:
- Cinnamon - anti-inflammatory and anti-viral; helps treat symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, sore throat, and muscle aches
- Ginger - contains antioxidants; has anti-inflammatory properties; relieves gastrointestinal upset
- Garlic - contains antioxidants; has anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-viral properties
- Cloves - contains antioxidants; has anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal properties
Note for parents: my kids love the cinnamon, ginger and cloves added, but aren't such big fans when I add garlic (even though they love garlic in savory dishes).
Elderberry Syrup Recipe
- 1/2 cup of dried elderberries
- 2 cups of water
- 1 cup of raw honey (buy this locally if possible)
- 2 tbsp of raw apple cider vinegar
Optional, add in as many as you'd like:
- 1 stick or 1 tsp of ground cinnamon
- 1 inch piece of ginger, minced
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp of whole cloves
- Add elderberries and water to a sauce pan, plus any other add-ins
- Heat on medium until it comes to a boil
- Turn heat down to low and allow it to simmer for 45-60 minutes, or until it has reduced by half
- Once reduced, take the pan off the heat; mash the berries and strain through a fine mesh strainer
- Allow to cool; when it is no longer hot, add in raw honey and apple cider vinegar
- Stir well, then pour into bottles of your choice
- Store in the fridge
How to take Elderberry Syrup
Since elderberries are a food, there isn't really a "dosage" per se. But there are some general guidelines that many people follow. For virus prevention, adults may take up to 1 tbsp per day and children may take up to 1 tsp per day. If an illness hits, take it every couple hours until symptoms clear.
There is also a theory with herbal remedies that you should take a break once in a while so that your body does not get used to the remedy. We take our syrup almost every day through the fall and winter and stop during the spring and summer. Others may take it for a week and then stop for a week throughout the whole year. It's really up to you!
Elderberry syrup is so delicious it can be taken straight or added to anything you'd like to sweeten, like tea or waffles.
It's important to note...
...that due to the honey, children under 1 year old should not be given this syrup. If you are breastfeeding, it is unlikely that your baby will need an additional immune support. If you are not breastfeeding, you can put some of the decoction aside before adding the honey and give the "juice" to your baby.