What’s the Hype About Elderberry? Nature’s Cold and Flu Remedy

When I first heard about elderberry, I had no clue what it was, where it grew, what it looked like or what the hype was about. It absolutely did not make sense to me that this berry was getting tons of fanfare about its ability to keep you from getting sick and shorten the duration of your illness if you did in fact get sick. I was totally new to all things natural and was having a crazy season of awareness as every product I have ever used was being called into question on whether it was actually the best thing for my family.

Since then, the elderberry is a staple in my home. I always have at least 1 pound ready to go and my local health food store knows me enough to have several bags stocked just for me in case I stop in (I am a notorious procrastinator, waiting for shipping is not always an option and I really, really like the natural store I purchase it from. They carry the same brand I would purchase if I have time to wait for shipping. They also carry local honey in what I can only describe as a honey keg, perfect for those of us who like to buy honey by the quart in our own mason jars.).

So what changed? Is the hype legit? Yes, yes, yes!!! The hype is legit and it has been since at least the days of Hippocrates. In the 1650s elderberries became known as, “the medicine chest of the common people.” Even then, this berry had a reputation for treating and preventing many illnesses. The berries are nutritious, rich in flavonoids, and high in vitamin C, vitamin A, bioflavonoids, beta-carotene, iron, and potassium. (Gladstar, 2012). According to the USDA in a chart they discontinued because of lobbying by the pharm companies because they thought it has little relevance, elderberries are shown to carry a higher than normal level of antioxidants. It has been proven time and time again that taking a form of elderberry as prevention can and does prevent illness and if taken to treat illness it can and does cut the duration of the illness down by 3 – 4 days.

Former USDA employee, Dr. James Duke states, “Elderberry has been used historically to treat respiratory problems (colds, flu, coughs, tonsillitis,etc.).The medicinal benefit comes from the antiviral qualities of Sambucus. Bioflavonoids in the extracts of elderberry may prevent viruses from entering cells.” Dr. Duke shares a fascinating table that exhibits elderberry’s place in medicine in folklore and more recent clinical studies in The Herb Society of America’s Guide to Elderberry. If you would like to learn more about elderberry and its American history, you can find that ebook here.

Elderberry Syrup

Now, once I did the research I was all in! I went through our medicine cabinets and threw away all of the “other” cold and flu remedies that masked symptoms and maybe, if you were lucky, knocked you out until you felt better. My family was apprehensive and my teen boys were skeptical at best. “I am not drinking that!” became a mantra in my household. But when they saw that it did actually make them feel better and when they started feeling something coming and they took a dose they felt better almost right away. My husband is a PE teacher at a local elementary school and he was ready to try it if it meant he wouldn’t get the crud he gets every year from the little ones. I am happy to say everyone is now on board with elderberry syrup and it’s the thing we reach for the most for prevention and treatment. I have not been sick at all this year, and I think, for the most part, we have avoided a lot of the junk going around this cold/flu season.

I have been on this incredible journey learning about all of the ways that God has provided for us in natural ways and I have really enjoyed learning about herbs in particular. This year, I am even planning on expanding my garden to include more medicinal plants and as I learn about them, I am getting more excited for Spring. Through my learning journey, I have been finding that one “herb” on its own may be great, pairing it with other herbs can create a concoction that is sure to please the palette, but also reinforce the body’s immune system abilities. Below, I share my favorite elderberry syrup recipe with you. Packed full of anti-inflammatories, vitamins, nutrients, and other good stuff, elderberry pairs well with echinacea, lavender, astragalus root, ginger root, cinnamon, and cloves.

Remember, if you don’t have time to make this recipe, or sourcing products seems overwhelming or expensive, you can purchase a Froggy ElderCalm Syrup Kit and all you need to do is add water and raw honey. It’s so easy to do and you will have your elderberry syrup done in no time. (If you are local to me, there is an option for me to make it for you. I sell premade syrup in 16 oz and 32 oz, send me an email for more information.) I know some drug stores are carrying products that contain elderberry. I picked one up in the store recently and was shocked to see the number of additional ingredients that we steer away from in our household now. If you needed to purchase these as a last-minute, last resort kind of thing, do it, I am not judging you. But if you can make your own it is definitely going to be better for you (and the sense of accomplishment from making your family’s medicine is worth it.)

FDA Disclosure
Posts in this blog are for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. Before using any herbs, check for appropriate dosage, drug interactions, and contraindications. Information contained herein is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prescribe. Please consult your primary care physician regarding your specific health concerns.

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Froggy ElderCalm Elderberry Syrup Recipe

With cold and flu season upon us, this elderberry syrup recipe works with your body's immune system to throat punch any nasty cold or flu trying to slow you down. Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Course Drinks
Cuisine Herbal
Keyword antioxidants, antiviral, cinnamon, cloves, cold and flu, DIY, echinacea, elderberry, Elderberry syrup,, food is medicine, ginger root, honey, lavender, natural health
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Servings 32 ounces
Calories 15kcal

Equipment

  • Glass or stainless steel 2 qt. pot
  • Mesh strainer
  • Measuring cups
  • Silicon spatula or wooden spoon

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Elderberries (dried) You can use fresh but will need to double the amount
  • 1/4 cup Echinacea purpurea (dried)
  • 1/4 cup Lavender (dried & food grade)
  • 1/4 cup Astragalus root
  • 6 Cloves
  • 2 Cinnamon sticks
  • 4 cups Distilled water Chlorinated water may adversely affect this recipe. If you need to use tap water, boil it in advance.
  • 1 cup Raw honey

Instructions

  • In a 2 quart saucepan, add all the ingredients except the honey.
  • Bring to a simmer over low to medium heat.
  • Cover and simmer on low for 45 minutes to an hour.
  • Strain solids from the liquid.
  • Allow cooling to room temperature. Add honey and mix to dissolve.
  • Pour into quart mason jar and store in the fridge.

Notes

Only add the honey when the syrup has cooled down to room temperature. Honey has healing properties of its own that are compromised when exposed to high heat. 
For those with autoimmune disease, please consult your physician before using any immune-enhancing herbs.
Organic cane sugar can be substituted for honey, although you lose the medicinal properties of the honey. 
It is ok to “play” with this recipe, if you would like to leave one of the other herbs out or add lemon juice, rose hips, or any other immune boosting herbs you like. The best thing about elderberry syrup is the many, many ways that you are able to make it. 
Suggested dosage:
  • Adults 1-2 teaspoons 3x daily, increase to 1 tablespoon every 4 hours if illness occurs. 
  • Children ages 6-12: 1/2 teaspoon 2- 3x daily
  • Children 2-4: 1/4 teaspoon 2x daily
    Not suitable for children under 2 
Do not use for more than 2 weeks at a time. 
FDA Disclosure:
Posts in this blog are for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. Before using any herbs, check for appropriate dosage, drug interactions, and contraindications. Information contained herein is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prescribe. Please consult your primary care physician regarding your specific health concerns.