No flu shots for us! Instead our family relies on powerful elderberry. My non-alcoholic version is perfect for kids. First, I’ll tell you what’s so great about it – then I’ll tell you how to make your own!
Update: Last flu season, the demand for dried elderberries skyrocketed due to an incredible awakening that elderberry WORKS and is safe. Dried elderberries were hard to find at a reasonable price. But the price for prepared (store-bought) elderberry syrup preparations wasn’t near as high. Check out and compare: Gaia Herbs Elderberry Liquid and Pure Synergy Rapid Rescue (with amazing ingredients and no added sugar). I consider both emergency-level products! Also Amazon has a lot of selection at near normal prices.
The World Becomes Aware!
I remember the day it was first reported worldwide. Dr. Madeleine Mumcuoglu made elderberries internationally famous through the well-publicized research and laboratory studies. It was demonstrated that Sambucus nigra species of elderberry was effective against a wide range of influenza viruses including human, swine and avian strains. This led to the development of a popular elderberry glycerin tincture preparation called Sambucol. Even if the preparation is taken too late to act as a preventative, controlled clinical studies demonstrated that Sambucol could reduce the severity and duration of influenza by half.
In 2006, a world-televised press conference was held at the Royal Society of Medicine in London, where the results of exciting new research on the patented elderberry formula was presented and found to be at least 99% effective against the Avian Flu (H5N1) virus in cell cultures! A predicted world-wide bird flu pandemic was expected to eradicate huge swaths of populations and so this was wonderful news!!
- Elderberry flavonoids bind to and prevent H1N1 infection in vitro. (Source PubMed)
- Randomized study of the efficacy and safety of oral elderberry extract in the treatment of influenza A and B virus infections. (Source PubMed)
- Elderberry Supplementation Reduces Cold Duration and Symptoms in Air-Travellers: A Randomized, Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial. (Source PubMed)
Now science is beginning to understand what Europe’s country folk and native Americans knew all along – elderberry is good for preventing colds and influenza, and traditional homemade elderberry tinctures and non-alcoholic (glycerin or honey-based) syrups work just as well as Sambucol.
No Flu Shots For Us
Elderberries are highly esteemed by herbalists and those in-the-know all over the world. It is considered to be nature’s answer to Tamiflu, a prescription drug that is commonly used to stop the flu. Recently, it has been reported that Tamiflu puts Adults & Kids at Risk For Neuropsychiatric & Behavior Disturbance
Traditionally, elderberry preparations are taken in a higher amount and early enough to head off a massive viral invasion right from the start.
Easy Elderberry Honey (or Glycerin) Syrup:
- 2 cups fresh or 1 cup dried organic Elderberries
- 3 cups water
- 3/4 cup raw honey (only do not add it the boiling pan!!! – see why below)
- 3-4 Cinnamon sticks, fresh Ginger and 3 Cloves, (optional) (we all love this truly natural flavoring, plus their healing benefits)
Note: you can also use and equal amount of glycerin as many old recipes call for, but I don’t prefer it now as I know some glycerin can be corn-derived. If you want glycerin, this one is non-GMO, food grade and palm derived.
- Place elderberries, water, and optional spices in a saucepan. Bring to a very hot temp but do not boil, reduce heat, and simmer (with lid on and tilted to vent) on low for 40 minutes. Mash the berries to release remaining juice.
- Let sit a few more minutes and then strain the liquid off from the berries using cheesecloth, a coffee filter, or a thin old towel. Be sure to squeeze all of the liquid out of the berries.
- Allow liquid to cool completely. The raw honey will lose the powerful healing antimicrobial enzymes and natural antibiotic components if heated at all!
- Add raw honey to the totally cooled liquid the berries were heated in only after straining off berries.
- Bottle syrup and store in the refrigerator for up to 4 months. Shake before using.
You can also make the vodka-based elderberry tincture that keeps beautifully for 7 or more years!
Very Important WHEN To Treat Flu:
The very best time to start treating a cold or flu virus with elderberry is at the very earliest stage, BEFORE the virus has gotten a foothold, as in, “I think I may be coming down with something, but I’m not quite sure”.
Cold and flu viruses multiply so rapidly that it is critically important to begin treatment while they are few in number, and before they have a chance to mount a massive attack.
Dosages For All Ages:
Adults and Elderly:
If exposed to cold or flu OR at the first sign of cold or flu, we adults take 1-2 TBSP of elderberry syrup (or a dropperful of the vodka-based tincture) every four to six waking hours for up to a week. Stop and start as needed. It is not meant to be taken long term (for weeks on end) as a preventative***.
For children under 12 years old, if exposed to cold or flu, administer 1 tsp. of elderberry syrup 2-3 times/day for 3-4 days OR at the onset of cold/flu-like symptoms, 1 teaspoon per waking hour for 3-4 days. Stop and start as needed. It is not meant to be taken long term (for weeks on end) as a preventative***.
(2-3 years old) get half of that.
Do not give to babies under 1 year-old unless you make a seperate bottle without honey (because honey carries a risk of allergic reaction under 1 year). Instead, bottle a small portion of the recipe before the honey is added. Mark that bottle well “For baby: NO honey”. Consider adding 1/8-1/4 tsp. to applesauce, etc. at first sign of illness or when exposed.
For those who are immunocompromised:
*** Quick side note — elderberry, like anything that initiates an immune response, is promoting inflammation in the body. This inflammation is nature’s process for bringing the heat on pathogens and clearing them.
Two things to note — 1. For some, it should not be used daily, indefinitely, or through an entire season. Healthy Inflammation should be an acute (sudden) response. Take elderberry at the very first sign of illness or exposure, otherwise, feel free to take a tsp. here and there several times a week during high flu season.
***Cytokine Storms and those with autoimmune diseases, such as hashi’s (low thyroid), RA, Celiac etc. should use all immune stimulants carefully, if at all, depending on YOUR individual response. This does NOT happen to everyone. When the immune system is initiated, it can also trigger symptoms and change in your autoimmune condition (cytokine storm) — so, yes, small short dosing duration, and just watch your body and symptoms and use a sensible approach. No one size fits all.
Are you nursing?
Drugs.com states, “Elderberry is most often used for influenza and immune stimulation. It has no specific lactation-related uses. No data exist on the excretion of any components of elderberry into breastmilk or on the safety and efficacy of elderberry in nursing mothers or infants. Elderberry preparations have rarely caused allergic reactions.”
If you don’t have a source of fresh elderberries where you live, it’s easiest to buy bulk dried organic elderberries.
Best Herbal Recipe Book I Know
For one of the oldest and finest resources on all-things-herbal there is Rosemary Gladstar’s Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health: 175 Teas, Tonics, Oils, Salves, Tinctures, and Other Natural Remedies for the Entire Family.
Both Pliny the Elder and Hippocrates mentioned and recommended elderberry as a medicinal herb in their writings.
“All that man needs for health and healing has been provided by God in nature, the challenge of science is to find it.” ~Paracelsus (1493-1541)