So, I’m going to be honest: I was a little late to learning about the power of elderberry syrup. Though I’d grown up taking herbal medicine, it wasn’t until I was an adult that I took this syrup, let alone knew how to make elderberry syrup.
I was working in a food bank at the time, and I had a horribly persistent cold and cough that refused to subside. One of my coworkers happened to be an herbalist, and after several days of overhearing my hacking cough from her cubicle she generously offered me a bottle of homemade elderberry syrup.
I was grateful but also a little skeptical at first: I had tried so many herbal remedies and none of them had managed to help my cold, so how could this syrup be any different? And boy was I wrong! After regularly dosing with elderberry syrup for just a day I noticed that my symptoms had already begun to abate. I was amazed by elderberry’s fast acting effects, and soon my cough and cold were completely gone.
Ever since then, I’ve always made sure to have a bottle of elderberry syrup in my apothecary for myself and to share with loved ones. And here’s the thing: at first I bought the syrup because I was a little intimidated to make it. It sure was expensive, though, with a small bottle costing upwards of $30. So I decided to start making my own elderberry syrup and saved a lot of money along the way — plus my homemade syrup tastes way better and fresher too.
That’s why I want to show you a simple recipe for elderberry syrup. But before we dive into the recipe, let’s talk more about the healing gifts of the herbs in this syrup…
Elderberry (Sambucus nigra)
Elderberry not only shortens the duration of colds and flu, but it’s also a preventative remedy that can strengthen the immune system and ward off upper respiratory infections. As a complex antiviral herb, some of elderberry’s effects can be attributed to the fact it contains hemagglutinin protein, which can inhibit a virus’s ability to penetrate a cell wall and replicate.1 I reach for elderberry syrup at the first sign of sickness, including sniffles, a sore throat, and more.
Though I’m focusing on elderberry’s immune supportive properties in this blog post, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that elderberry is so much more than just an “immune herb.” In addition to its immune system effects, elderberry also has an affinity for easing systemic inflammation and arthritic pain and for strengthening the eyes.
Ginger (Zingiber officinale)
I love adding ginger to my elderberry syrup because it not only tastes delicious, but it also offers many healing gifts. Like elderberry, it displays antimicrobial actions and can soothe sore throats. As a warming, dispersive herb, ginger can help ease stagnation and break up congestion. Ginger is often classified as a driver, which means that it can drive herbal formulas deeper into the body: it accomplishes this through its warming, circulatory stimulant properties that enhance circulation and allow the formula to flow more easily throughout the body.
As an anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic herb, ginger also has a knack for easing pain. This makes ginger well-suited for addressing aches and pains in the body that may occur during colds and flu.
Cinnamon (Cinnamomum spp.)
Cinnamon is also a warming circulatory stimulant that can ease congestion and stagnation — it gets things moving! As an antimicrobial demulcent, it can address a dry cough and soothe the bronchi. Cinnamon is particularly indicated during a cold or flu when someone feels physically cold and is shivering.
This is an important ingredient in the syrup for several reasons: not only does it preserve the syrup and enhance the taste, it also offers many healing gifts. Honey is antimicrobial and can help fight infection. Plus, honey is also demulcent, which means it can soothe irritation and inflammation. This makes honey particularly well-suited for addressing sore throats and dry coughs.
A Simple Recipe for Elderberry Syrup
Learning how to make this recipe for elderberry syrup is a wonderful way to invest in your own health and the health of your loved ones — elderberry syrup is a remedy that not only effectively fights cold and flu, but it also tastes delicious. This means that the herbalists and herbal skeptics alike in your life will love taking this sweet, soothing remedy to support immune health.
What you’ll need…
- 1 cup fresh elderberries or ½ cup dried elderberries
- 2 tablespoons fresh ginger or 1 teaspoon dried ginger
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon chips
- 1 cup honey
- Place the elderberries, ginger, and cinnamon in a saucepan and cover them with 3 cups water. Then bring this to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for half an hour.
- Remove this mixture from the heat and immediately use a spoon or potato masher to smash the berries in your saucepan. Now strain the mixture through a mesh strainer.
- Measure out 1 cup of your strained tea and let it cool for 10 minutes. Now combine this tea with 1 cup honey. Stir in the honey until it is completely dissolved in your tea. If you have extra tea, you can set this aside and drink it on its own.
- Bottle your elderberry syrup and store it in the fridge, where it will last for a few months.
Yield: 2 cups elderberry syrup