This DIY Elderberry syrup recipe is one of our go-to home remedies during the cold and flu season. Some of my family members drink it straight out of the bottle, while others prefer to consume it hidden in a smoothie. Any method works as long as it makes the medicine go down as the song states.
Before I share my recipe, allow me to share some of the scientific literature on the benefits of elderberries.
One researcher stated:
Elderberry extract seems to offer an efficient, safe and cost-effective treatment for influenza. These findings need to be confirmed in a larger study. (1)
Another study further reads:
In 1995, Israeli scientists reported their results in treating patients with elderberry extract during an outbreak of influenza. A standardized elderberry extract was used in this placebo-controlled, double-blind study. Significant improvement of the symptoms, including fever, was seen in 93.3% of the cases in the elderberry treated group within 2 days, whereas in the control group, only 91.7% of the patients showed improvement within 6 days. A complete curewas achieved within 2 to 3 days in nearly 90% of the elderberry-treated group.(3) (4)
In addition to these impressive results, a long history of studies have confirmed the effectiveness of elderberry extract against influenza viruses, HIV strains and Herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1). Very importantly, elderberry extracts have been shown to have immune-enhancing activity in healthy individuals as well as in those with viral infections or other diseases characterized by immunosuppression.(2) (4)
For more information about the health benefits of elderberries, The ABC Clinical Guide to Elderberry written by The American Botanical Council is an informative read.
DIY Elderberry Syrup
You will need to have these items on hand:
- A sturdy saucepan, preferably not an aluminum pot.
- A strainer, preferably not plastic.
- A Mason jar (wide-mouth is much easier).
Note of caution: since elderberries are “good for you,” I decided one morning to add a handful of dried elderberries to my smoothie, an ill-fated choice. I found out the hard way that one should never consume uncooked elderberries. I ended up becoming reacquainted with my smoothie when I threw it up, as did my daughter who had shared my beverage. It was the strangest thing. I never felt “sick” per say. I felt fine, not clammy, or hot, or anything. No pain either. Just this awful sense “I am about to be sick.” Lesson learned.
In a saucepan, place the water with the elderberries.
Place your pan on the stovetop and bring the content to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 45 minutes to one hour; or until the liquid is reduced by half.
Strain and discard the elderberries, cinnamon stick and ginger pieces (if using).
Allow the syrup to cool to room temperature before adding the raw honey. Waiting until the syrup cools ensures that the enzymes from the raw honey are preserved.
When completely cooled, store your syrup in a Mason jar in the fridge (or another suitable container).
If you’d prefer not make your own, you can find pre-made elderberry products from iHerb.
- 1/2 cup dried elderberries
- 2 tablespoons fresh ginger root or 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- A cinnamon stick or 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 6 whole cloves
- 1 cup raw honey
- 2 1/2 cups pure water NOT tap
- In a saucepan, place the water with the elderberries.
- Add the cinnamon, cloves, and ginger (if using).
- Place your pan on the stovetop and bring the content to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 45 minutes to one hour; or until the liquid is reduced by half.
- Strain and discard the elderberries, cinnamon stick and ginger pieces (if using).
- Allow the syrup to cool to room temperature before adding the raw honey. Waiting until the syrup cools ensures that the enzymes from the raw honey are preserved.
- When completely cooled, store your syrup in a Mason jar in the fridge (or another suitable container).
Sources and References for DIY Elderberry Syrup:
- http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15080016 (1)
- http://healthresearchdirect.com/2012/11/new-study-confirms-elderberry-extract-helps-fight-colds-and-flu/ (4)
- Gray AM, Abdel-Wahab YH, Flatt PR. The traditional plant treatment, Sambucus nigra(elder), exhibits insulin-like and insulin-releasing actions in vitro. J Nutr. 2000;130(1):15-20.
- Kong F. Pilot clinical study on a proprietary elderberry extract: efficacy in addressing influenza symptoms. Online Journal of Pharmacology and Pharmacokinetics. 2009;5:32-43.
- Roschek B, Fink RC, McMichael MD, et al. Elderberry flavonoids bind to and prevent H1N1 infection in vitro. Phytochemistry. 2009;70:1255-61.
- Roxas M, Jurenka J. Colds and influenza: a review of diagnosis and conventional, botanical, and nutritional considerations. Altern Med Rev. 2007 Mar;12(1):25-48. Review.
- Uncini Manganelli RE, Zaccaro L, Tomei PE. Antiviral activity in vitro of Urtica dioica L., Parietaria diffusa M. et K. and Sambucus nigra L. J Ethnopharmacol. 2005 Apr 26;98(3):323-7.
- Vlachojannis JE, Cameron M, Chrubasik S. A systematic review on the sambuci fructuseffect and efficacy profiles. Phytother Res. 2010 Jan;24(1):1-8. Review.
- Wright CI, Van-Buren L, Kroner CI, Koning MM. Herbal medicines as diuretics: A review of the scientific evidence. J Ethnopharmacol. 2007 Oct 8;114(1):1-31.
- Zakay-Rones Z, Thom E, Wollan T, Wadstein J. Randomized study of the efficacy and safety of oral elderberry extract in the treatment of influenza A and B virus infections. J Int Med Res. 2004;32:132-40 (2)
- Anti-influenza virus effects of elderberry juice and its fractions, Kinoshita E, Hayashi K, Katayama H, Hayashi T, Obata A,Biosci Biotechnol Biochem, 76(9):1633-8, 2012.
- Monograph, Sambucus nigra (elderberry), Altern Med Rev, 10(1):51-4, Mar 2005. (3)
- Synergistic therapeutic actions of herbal ingredients and their mechanisms from molecular interaction and network perspectives, Ma XH, Zheng, et al, Drug Discov Today, 14(11-12):579-88, June 2009.
- Synergism of herbs in classical Chinese medicine: evidence from HPLC, Shaw K, et al, BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 12(Suppl 1):P39, 2012.