As the Autumn air gets more crisp, I try to make sure the household is stocked with some of our go-to herbal remedies like Homemade Herbal Elderberry Syrup, Immune-Boosting Tea, Soothing Herbal Tea-Bath Blends and Herbal “Vicks” Salve. One thing I have learned about myself in the past is that I don’t feel like making herbal medicine when I am under the weather. I also don’t like making my family members wait for it when they don’t feel well. If you catch symptoms early enough, many times you can halt an illness from going any further and clear things up more quickly than if you wait till you are 3 or 4 days into it. Elderberry syrup has many preventive qualities and immune boosting properties. It can be used as a supplement to improve immune function and often avoid sickness. That’s good medicine!
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Homemade Herbal Elderberry Syrup
The main ingredient in elderberry syrup is, of course, elderberries! Herbalists use the berries and flowers as a preferred treatment of colds. They pack a powerful vitamin C punch, at just a little under 1/2 cup of berries, you can get up to 87% of your recommended daily value! They also have up to 15% of vitamin B-6, 17% of Vitamin A and 12% of Iron.
***If you plan on using fresh elderberries, PLEASE make sure that you identify them properly. There are different kinds (as well as lookalikes) that are considered poisonous. It is also recommended that you always cook them first before consuming because they contain a cyanide-like compound and can be toxic in large amounts. We always purchase the dried berries so that we can easily store them and use them as we need to.
To make this elderberry syrup, we’re going to beef it up with some other herbals to help activate the immune system, provide some needed trace minerals, reduce inflammation and help soothe tummy troubles. Children LOVE this herbal medicine and it is usually our first choice for them when trying to stop an impending illness because it tastes so great.
Syrup Ingredients Needed:
***IMPORTANT*** PLEASE READ: If you are pregnant or waiting to hear if you are pregnant, you may want to omit the peppermint and cinnamon in this recipe as herbs in the mint family can be contraindicated during pregnancy, stimulating the uterus and potentially causing contractions and/or loss of pregnancy. You should use extreme caution if pregnancy is possible. Another caution is for those who have autoimmune disorders- because certain herbs can cause a hyper-reaction within the immune system, it is best to research carefully before usage, and as always, if you are on any prescription medications, it is vital that you check to make sure there are no drug interactions with the herbs you choose to use.
1 cup Dried elderberries (Benefits listed above)
1/2 cup Dried rose hips, cut (an extra boost of vitamin C)
1/2 cup Dried peppermint leaf (activates immune system)
5 whole cinnamon sticks (anti-viral, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial)
1/2 cup Dried (or fresh) ginger root (purifying, for pain and inflammation, settles tummy)
2 cups Raw honey
Distilled Water, enough to cover the herbs
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*First, combine all herbs in a saucepan and cover with water.
Place the saucepan on the stove and set to medium-low.
*Secondly, bring your mixture to just a simmer, stir a couple times.
Simmer for 2 minutes.
*Thirdly, take it off of the heat and let it sit for another 2 minutes.
Next, strain the herb-liquid into a glass bowl. I use a fine mesh colander, but you can also use cheese cloth draped over a regular colander.
*Then, use a spatula to ‘press’ the herbs to get most of the liquid out. (or wrap them up in the cheese cloth and twist tightly to press as much of the liquid out as you can) Discard the remaining herbs and let the liquid (the infusion) cool.
*Lastly, after the herbal liquid has cooled to just warm, add the honey, stirring to combine.
*Finally, bottle the syrup and store in the fridge for up to 3 weeks.
A word on dosing: Teens & adults can take a tablespoon every 3 hours. Children 5-11 can take 2 teaspoons every 3 hours. Toddlers can take 1/2-1 teaspoon every 3 hours. Nursing babies can benefit from mama taking doses and receive its benefits through breast milk.
Voila! You now have an herbal elderberry syrup that is nourishing for the whole family! Use at the first sign of sniffles or as a preventative nutritional supplement to keep the immune system built up!