Every fall, one of the first things I make to support my immune health is make a fresh batch of elderberry syrup. Elderberry has been used for thousands of years to support cold and flu symptoms. Elderberries naturally contain vitamins A, B, and C and stimulate the immune system. Israeli researchers found that the complex sugars in elderberries support the immune system in fighting cold and flu. They developed several formulas based on these complex sugars that have been clinically shown to help ameliorate all kinds of cold/flu. In fact, “Dr. Madeleine Mumcuoglu, of Hadassah-Hebrew University in Israel found that elderberry disarms the enzyme viruses use to penetrate healthy cells in the lining of the nose and throat. Taken before infection, it prevents infection. Taken after infection, it prevents spread of the virus through the respiratory tract. In a clinical trial, 20% of study subjects reported significant improvement within 24 hours, 70% by 48 hours, and 90% claimed complete cure in three days. In contrast, subjects receiving the placebo required 6 days to recover.”
Making your own syrup can save you money, but also provide more of the medicinal constituents than storebought versions. Plus, you can add fresh ginger for more anti-inflammatory effects and medicinal mushrooms for an immune-modulating effect.
You can find dried elderberries in local health food stores or online from Frontier Co-op.
1 cup dried elderberries
4 cups filtered water (the best quality)
1 cinnamon stick (optional)
3-4 pieces sliced fresh ginger
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp powdered mushroom (OM Mushroom Reishi or Immune Support) Optional
¼ cup raw, unfiltered, unheated honey (preferably local)
Place a large dutch oven over medium heat. Put in elderberries, water and cinnamon stick (if using). Add remaining ingredients, except do not add the honey! Stir to combine, heat to a low boil. Simmer for 45 minutes. Strain out the berries using a mesh strainer – use a spoon to press out all of the juice into a bowl. When cool, stir in the honey to taste. You may need not a full ¼ cup. Transfer to mason jars or jelly jars and store in the fridge. Take 1 tbsp daily as a preventative and every 3-4 hrs when you feel a cold coming on. Keeps for 2-3 months.
Can elderberry cause a “cytokine storm?” According to Dr. Elisa Song, a Cytokine Storm is when the immune system overreacts and goes haywire. She says, no. “The centuries of use of elderberry and data on its activity against the influenza virus, its immunoprotective and antioxidant effects leave me with very little concern that its “immunostimulatory effects” will cause your immune system to go haywire. Elderberry has been shown to increase BOTH PRO-inflammatory cytokines and ANTI-inflammatory cytokines, and REDUCE oxidative stress (oxidative stress = free radicals) and may help to REGULATE inflammatory disease like autoimmunity.” If you have concerns, check with your Health Practitioner.