Cold and flu season is here, so I’m sharing today an all-natural remedy that you can easily make at home to strengthen your immune system and hopefully keep colds and flu at bay this season.
Elderberries have long been studied for their ability to boost the immune system and prevent and treat colds, flu, cough and infections. People have been using them for this purpose for centuries (long before Benylin and Buckley even existed!). Their healing benefits are due to their high concentration in antioxidants, including vitamin A, C, E and anthocyanins (which give the berries their dark purple/blue colour).
You can buy elderberry syrup in health food stores, but it’s so much more satisfying (and affordable!) to make your own at home. You can make it for a fraction of the cost, plus you get to control exactly what goes into it.
Some recipes you will find online use white sugar as as sweetener, but I highly recommend using raw unpasteurized honey for the added anti-microbial and anti-bacterial benefits. Most recipes I came across used one cup of honey, but I like my syrup a little less sweet, so I used about 1/2 cup – simply adjust the quantity based on your personal taste.
I like to add warming fall spices like ginger (great for digestion and circulation too), cinnamon (helps to stabilize blood sugar), lemon zest, cardamom, cloves and star anise. These add-ins are optional, so feel free to omit them or choose whatever spice you like to suit your taste.
I made this little video in collaboration with Santevia, showing you the step-by-step process of making elderberry syrup (it’s much easier to prepare than you might think!). I highly recommend using filtered water when making your syrup, to make sure you get the purest remedy possible. Santevia water filters alkalize the water, remove excess chlorine and add minerals back in, helping to keep your water clean.
How to use the syrup
As prevention: Take 1 tablespoon every day (1 tsp for kids) to help boost your immune system and prevent cold and flu.
As treatment: If you’re already sick or feeling a cold coming on, take 1 tablespoon (1 tsp for kids) every 3 or 4 hours until symptoms disappear.
The video in this post is sponsored by Santevia. Thanks for supporting the brands that support The Green Life!
Notes: You can find dried elderberries in herbal stores, some health food stores, or online. I got mine in bulk at Alfafa in the Jean-Talon Market.
Homemade Elderberry Syrup for Cold & Flu Prevention
Makes about 3 cups of syrup
- 4 cups filtered water
- 3/4 cup dried elderberries (or 1 cup fresh)
- 2 tbsp sliced ginger
- 1/2 cup raw, unpasteurized honey - or to taste
Add-ins of your choice
- 1 cinnamon stick (optional)
- 5-6 whole cloves (optional)
- 3-4 cardamom pods (optional)
- 1-2 star anise (optional)
- 1 tbsp lemon zest (optional)
Place water in a saucepan. Add elderberries, ginger and the add-ins of your choice (cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, star anise, lemon zest, etc.). Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 1 hour, until the syrup has reduced by about half.
Remove from heat and using a fine mesh sieve placed over a large bowl, strain out mixture, pressing to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard solids and let the syrup cool slightly. Once the liquid has cooled down, stir in honey (adding honey when the liquid is too hot can destroy some of its beneficial antioxidant/antibacterial properties). Taste and add more honey if needed.
Transfer the syrup to a glass jar and store in the fridge. For prevention, take 1 tablespoon every day for adults (1 tsp for kids). To treat a cold or flu, take 3-4 times a day until symptoms are gone.
The syrup can be stored in a glass jar in the fridge for 3-4 months.