For centuries, traditional European folk medicine has touted the benefits of elderberry extract and elderberry syrup for immune support, and now modern science is finally catching up.
Studies have found that a commercial preparation of elderberry extract called Sambucol is more effective than other over-the-counter remedies at shortening the duration and severity of the flu.
This comes as no surprise to the many people who swear by elderberry syrup, which is said to boost the immune system, prevent the flu or colds, alleviate excessive mucus and soothe sore throats.
What Are Elderberries?
A flowering plant in the honeysuckle family, elderberries are native to Europe, Asia, and the Americas. They are most commonly found in “edge” areas of woods, such as along rivers and roads. In addition to their illness-fighting properties, elderberries are also full of antioxidants, potassium, beta carotene, calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin C.
Where Can You Get Elderberry Syrup?
You can buy elderberry syrup and extracts at most health food stores, though they can be expensive. To save money, it’s easy to make your own. Here’s a recipe for homemade elderberry syrup.
DIY Elderberry Syrup
1 cup black elderberries
3 cups water
1 cup raw local honey
Place berries and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes. Crush the berries and strain off the skins. Allow to cool before stirring in honey.
For best results, take one tablespoon daily when you’re well. You can take it on its own, or add it to fruit smoothies, yogurt, ice cream, or maple syrup. If you do come down with a cold or the flu, take a teaspoon every few hours until you recover.
Elderberry syrup is as good for kids as it is for adult, but it’s important to remember never to give products containing raw honey to children under the age of 2.
Jaime McLeod is a longtime journalist who has written for a wide variety of newspapers, magazines, and websites, including MTV.com. She enjoys the outdoors, growing and eating organic food, and is interested in all aspects of natural wellness.