How to Make Your Own Elderberry Syrup to Fight Off Cold & Flu
Inside This Post: How to make your own elderberry syrup, nature’s potent remedy to fight off colds and flu. Boost your immune system with elderberry syrup & elderberries.
This post may contain affiliate links. You can see my disclosure policy here.
How to Make Your Own Elderberry Syrup (to Fight Off Colds & Flu)
The use of natural remedies to treat common colds and boost immune health are growing in popularity every year. Right now, elderberry is having it’s moment as the hot natural remedy.
And for good reason.
Elderberries are one of my favorite remedies for when the kids head back to school (and sickness always runs rampant the first few weeks) and throughout cooler months of the year.
Black Elderberries are native to Europe and have a long history of use in herbal medicine dating back centuries.
The berries of the plant are often used for tinctures, preserves, syrups (right on your pancakes!) but the leaves and stems are poisonous. When you buy them dried, these parts have been removed so you don’t have to worry about exposure.
Important: Elderberries must be cooked; they cannot be eaten as dried fruit, ground up or blended into smoothies.
Dried elderberries from Sambucis Nigra plant are high in immune-boosting compounds, shown to help you stay healthy during cold and flu season, and speed up recovery.
The Medicine Behind Using Elderberries as a Cold & Flu Remedy
Black Elderberries are rich in anthocyanins which are a type of flavonoid – anthocyanins are antioxidants that may protect cells from free radicals and support your body’s immune system.
Elderberry is used for its antioxidant activity. It has been shown boost the immune system, as treatment for colds, coughs, flu, bacterial and viral infections and tonsillitis, as well as improve heart health, lower cholesterol, and improve vision.
Bioflavonoids and other proteins in the berry juice destroy the ability for cold and flu viruses to infect a healthy cell.
At the Bundesforschungsanstalt research center for food in Karlsruhe, Germany, scientists conducting studies on Elderberry found that they contain more antioxidant capacity than either vitamin E or vitamin C, and help the body defend itself against disease.
Additionally, Studies at Austria’s University of Graz found that elderberry extract reduces oxidation of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. Oxidation of LDL cholesterol is implicated in atherogenesis, thus contributing to cardiovascular disease.
Here’s what WebMD says about Elderberry’s use in medicine:
“Elderberry is used for “the flu” (influenza), H1N1 “swine” flu, HIV/AIDS, and boosting the immune system. It is also used for sinus pain, back and leg pain (sciatica), nerve pain (neuralgia), and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).
Some people use elderberry for hay fever (allergic rhinitis), cancer, as a laxative for constipation, to increase urine flow, and to cause sweating.
Elderberry fruit is also used for making wine and as a food flavoring.”
With science backing up the potent ability of elderberry to naturally treat colds and flu, and keep your immune system strong, let’s dig into how you can make your own medicinal version of elderberry syrup at home.
The Benefits of Elderberry Syrup
Elderberry syrup can be made at home or bought from the store if you don’t have the time. It’s a concentrated immune booster that tastes great.
I like to blend my elderberry syrup with herbs – cinnamon, raw honey, and ginger – for a quadruple boost to the immune system.
How to Make Your Own Elderberry Syrup
There isn’t much doctors can do to treat a common cold or even mild case of the flu, but that’s where nature can provide you with some remedies to help you and your family stay healthy, and shorten the time you’re under the weather.
I will say again that I am not a doctor, and if you are having severe symptoms, then seeking conventional medicine and doctors and pairing this with natural remedies will be the safest choice.
As a Mom, I know how awful it can be seeing your children sick and battling to get healthy so they can get outside again to play. That’s why I turn to natural remedies because I know the powerful capabilities of mother nature.
This elderberry syrup can be used with kids and adults, however, if your child is under a year, consult with your pediatrician about giving them this tincture with honey.
Make Your Own Elderberry Syrup
This recipe will make approximately 16oz (twice the average of store bought versions and half the price.)
- Amount it Makes: 16oz
- Prep Time: 10 Minutes
- Cook Time: 60 Minutes
- Total Time: 1 Hour, 10 Minutes
- 1 cup dried black elderberries OR 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen
- 3 cups water
- 1 cup raw honey (if you don’t use honey, you can substitute with organic maple syrup)
- 2tbsp chopped fresh or dried ginger
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- Pour water into medium saucepan and add elderberries, ginger, and cinnamon.
Bring the contents to a boil and then cover and reduce to a simmer for 45 – 60 minutes or until the liquid is reduced by half.
Remove the pot from heat
Allow it cool
Mash the berries carefully using a spoon or a flat kitchen utensil
Place a bowl underneath a strainer in your since and pour the contents through the strainer
- The elderberries still in the strainer should be discarded
- Allow the liquid in the bowl to cool further until it’s slightly warm
- When it’s slightly warm, add the 1 cup of honey and mix well
Taste and add more cinnamon, ginger or clove to taste
- Once everything is set, you can pour the syrup straight into a 16oz mason jar or glass bottle of some kind to store it
- If you want to freeze anything, you can put it in a mason jar or into an ice cube tray to use in smaller amounts
- If I want to seal and save a jar, I’ll pour the syrup hot into a mason jar and find that the heat seals the lid well.
Congrats – you just made homemade elderberry syrup! You can store your syrup in your fridge for up to 2 weeks (that’s our rule of thumb) and take daily, or more if anyone is sick, for an extra dose of immune boosting properties.
INSTANT POT COOKING OPTION:
I love how easy it is to cook meals, and elderberry syrup in my Instant Pot (this stainless steel version is safe and completely non-toxic.)
All you do is combine all the ingredients (except honey) in your instant pot, seal the lid and set the manual function for 10 minutes on high pressure.
Vent the pressure once the 10 minutes are up, and strain the contents. When it cools to room temperature, you can put this in your glass container to save (unless you want to seal your mason jar with higher temperatures, then pour it in hot.)
How Much Elderberry Syrup Do I Take?
While there is no clear standard dose for elderberry syrup I could find, here are the doses we use:
- Dosage for Adults:
- 1 tablespoon, once a day.
- If the person is sick, we increase to 2 tablespoons, 3 – 4 times per day until symptoms are gone.
- Dosage for Kids:
- 1/2 tsp to 1 tsp for kids, once a day.
- If one of my kids is sick, I’ll do 1 tsp, 3 – 4 times per day until symptoms are gone.
How to Use Elderberry Syrup
- Dried Elderberries as your own immune boosting syrup help you avoid the flu.
- You can use your syrup on pancakes and waffles
- Add Dried Elderberries to muffins, breads and pancakes. It is a berry flavor but not as sweet as blueberries.
- Grab a pre-made syrup at the store. It’s usually more expensive than the homemade version, in my experience. Be sure to check the back of the label for proper dosing for kids and adults as this varies from the guidelines I posted above.
- If you don’t have access to a syrup or can’t make your own, here are some elderberry gummies that are good to have on hand.
Where Do I Find Organic, Dried Elderberries?
I’ve bought dried elderberries for our natural health food store in the past, but because of the popularity of elderberry, it’s hit or miss if it’s in stock.
I’ve been using these Organic Dried Elderberries I found online and have been really happy with them. I’ve also bought this elderberry syrup at the store, but it’s expensive for half the amount I can make at home.
Are Elderberries Toxic?
Most species of Sambucus berries are edible when picked ripe and then cooked. Both the skin and pulp can be eaten, but the leaf, stem and other parts of the plant that are uncooked are poisonous.
Sambucus nigra is the variety of Elderberry that is most often used for health benefits as it is the only variety considered to be non-toxic even when not cooked, but it is still recommended to cook the berries at least a little to enhance their taste and digestibility.