My grandmother, Helma Schoffro, never seemed to get sick. Every year the flu seemed to knock out others around her but I don’t recall her ever being down with the flu. I often wondered “what’s her secret?” but it wasn’t until I started my herbal training that I realized how she stayed so healthy.
Not only did she eat an organic whole foods diet with plentiful amounts of fruits and vegetables and completely devoid of any packaged or processed foods, she also turned elderberries when they were in season into elderberry pie and sometimes homemade elderberry wine.
It seemed that grandma knew long before the research proved it that elderberries have potent antiviral effects, which increase with the dose size. While fresh elderberries may be difficult to obtain this time of year, leaving pies out of the question, elderberry syrup can be made using dried elderberries that are readily available in most health food stores.
Fortunately, making your own elderberry syrup can be easy to do at home and is always a good idea to have on hand to help prevent or reduce the duration of colds and flu.
David Hoffman, FNIMH, AHG, herbalist and author of the book Medical Herbalism: The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine, reports that an alcohol extract of elderberry was effective in laboratory tests against ten strains of influenza virus. While it takes weeks to make an alcohol extract, you can quickly make an elderberry syrup that has all the benefits of an alcohol-based tincture without the alcohol or the wait time.
Serves 1-1/2 quarts
- 2 cups dried elderberries
- 4 cups water
- 1 inch piece of fresh gingerroot, grated
- 1 3-inch cinnamon stick
- 3 cups (approximately) honey or agave nectar
- In a medium to large pot, add the elderberries, water, ginger, and cinnamon stick. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer and allow to cook for 30 minutes. Remove the cinnamon stick. Remove from the heat.
- Using a large wooden or stainless steel spoon, mash the elderberries. Place a cheesecloth-lined strainer over a heat-proof pitcher or Pyrex dish, slowly pour the elderberry mixture into the cheesecloth.
- Once cooled, squeeze out any remaining liquid from the elderberry mixture.
- Measure out the same amount of honey or agave as liquid in the pitcher. In a small to medium sized pot over low heat, add the elderberry liquid and gently heat the honey until it has become liquefied, stirring constantly to mix the elderberry liquid and honey together. Do not allow to boil. Immediately, pour the honey-elderberry liquid into sterilized mason or other jars and let cool.
- You can use a tablespoon of elderberry syrup a few times daily to reap the antiviral benefits of elderberries either for cold and flu prevention or treatment.
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Dr. Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNM is the publisher of the free e-news World’s Healthiest News, the Cultured Cook, president of ScentsationalWellness, and an international best-selling and 20-time published book author whose works include: The Cultured Cook: Delicious Fermented Foods with Probiotics to Knock Out Inflammation, Boost Gut Health, Lose Weight Extend Your Life.