Elderberries – A tasty way to fight viruses

Ripe elderberries (Sambucus) in Rochester, Min...

After the recent spade of sickness in our house I have decided it is time to stock up on disease fighting remedies. Surely I am not the only one who always leaves things to the last minute and then finds that the very thing they need takes 6 weeks to make?

Traditional and scientific research indicate that elderberries promote disease resistance and that they also have the ability to prevent and even treat a virus. Elderberries have been used for centuries in the treatment of colds, viral infections and upper respiratory conditions including asthma. These little powerhouses are said to build the blood, cleanse the system, ease constipation, enhance the immune system function, fight inflammation, increase perspiration, lower fever, soothe the respiratory tract, and stimulate circulation – oh and they are a powerful antioxidant! Did I mention they taste great too? In the old days a syrup or a hot cup of elderberry wine would be often be prescribed before bed to ward off cold and flu related symptoms.

I popped over to The Medicine Woman’s Roots for her Elderberry Elixir recipe. I took Kiva’s suggestion and added some rosehip as well plus 1/2 a cinnamon stick. As this recipe takes a good month (and more) to mature I have also put some elderberries to soak for an Elderberry Syrup. I understand Kiva’s preference for the elixir but when compared to the elixir the syrup is much faster to prepare and contains no alcohol – which of course is a bonus when treating small children. While the elixir is soaking I can fall back on the syrup in the meantime. It may not be as powerful but it does still possess a lot of the virus fighting benefits.

Elderberry Syrup

1 cups dried elderberries
2 cups of boiling water
1/4 cup raw honey
1/4 lemon juice
Put the elderberries in a non reactive saucepan, add boiling water – cover and leave to soak overnight. The next day simmer berries for 30 minutes, cool a little then blend. Once blended add honey and lemon juice. Cool, then pour into a clean bottle. Store in the fridge. NOTE: I havent decided if I am going to blend all the berries or whether I will strain the pulp out as I have seen in a few other recipes. I might do one of each and see if there is any added benefit from keeping the pulp. Will keep you updated on results down the track.

As with the elixir I chose to add a small handful of rosehips as well. We love the taste and it is high in Vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, C & K – helpful in the treatment of colds and infection.

Updated to add: If you are going to add dried rosehips like I did do add some extra water or else you will end up with slush in the morning as all the dried plant material has soaked up the water and there is nothing left to simmer.

As a quick cough syrup you can add Wild Thyme to this syrup recipe. It works wonderfully for my children who love the flavour.

Stay Herbal!


14 Responses to Elderberries – A tasty way to fight viruses

  1. Renee says:

    Glad to see elderberries can be used for more than Monty Python quotes!

  2. Pingback: healthranker.com

  3. Nicola Cake says:

    Do you know where I can buy dried elderberries?

    • rita says:

      I buy all of my elderberries from frontiercoop.com A very trustworthy site with excellent products. you could also try mountainroseherbs.com

  4. anke says:

    Hi Nicola,

    I don’t know where you live so it’s diffcult to answer your question. In Australia, I recommend AustralHerbs.com.au for any herbal ingredients you may need.

    Hope that helps

  5. susie cook says:

    How long will this elderberry syrup keep in the refrigerator? I’ve got a ton of berries washed and in a strainer waiting for me to decide to tincture, make syrup or just freeze until I can make up my mind?

    Be well,

  6. anke says:

    Hi Suzie,

    I am not sure what the shelf life of the Elderberry syrup is. I make it as I need it and keep the rest in the fridge for probably 6 weeks. It might last longer but I have never made enough to find out.

    The elixir will last longer because of the alcohol content.

    Otherwise I would stick to the tincture and frozen methods of preserving excess berries.

  7. Ryan says:

    Elderberry has only been proven to fight the influenza virus. Your common cold virus will not be affected. Taking it through the winter season would at least protect against the flu though!

  8. Barb says:

    I mixed the pulp with homemade granola and a butter/olive oil/kefir blend (our substitute for soft margarine) for yummy snack bars.

  9. Kiva Rose says:

    @Ryan “Proven” or not, Elder certainly does work on the common cold, “proven” by the clinical and personal experience of herbalists all over the world time and time again.

    The amount of alcohol in a dropperful of elixir is fairly minimal, comparable to a very ripe banana. I have used it in very small children to no ill effect whatsoever.

    Nicely done 🙂


    • anke says:

      I am delighted you visited, Kiva. 🙂 I totally agree with you on the subject of alcohol content in the Elder Elixir by the way.

      There are so many remedies that have proven themselves to be effective over such a long time but have not got science’s stamp of approval. And dont forget that there are remedies that were based on science……of the day.

      Living with a scientist I think I have gathered a bit of insight into the mind of science and I believe this:
      Modern science isnt telling us that the remedies do not work. More often than not it is telling us that there have been no studies and therefore effectiveness has not been scientifically established.

      Herbs are the gentle giants in Mother Nature’s medicine cabinet – they work with care and take the whole being into account. Science is a sledgehammer that can be targeted with pinpoint accuracy which can leave the whole being shaken to the core.

      Both approaches have their place – I would not want to have to rely purely on one alone for every eventuality – but I know which I prefer 🙂

      Stay herbal everyone.

  10. Great blog! Nice read, I’ll stop by for more.

  11. Angela Makin says:

    Hi there,
    Soon will be starting my elderberry club site on line.
    I grow and sell Sambucus nigra. (European Elder) – these will be available through club membership with online mentoring for wine production, flu remedy- both berry and flower.
    Hope to hear from you all.

  12. L. Marie says:

    I know I’ve seen a method of using elderberry tincture as a base for a syrup; I think it was basically combining the tincture with honey, but I don’t remember exactly. My question is a two-parter: 1) would a syrup using the tincture as base be any less effective, and 2.) do you know of a specific method of doing this? (I ask only because I have an abundance of extract to work with this year.)

    Thank you for the article and formula!


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