For centuries, elderberries (Sambucus) have been used as a folk remedy in Europe, North America, North Africa, and Western Asia. Upon research, the benefits of elderberries have been rediscovered and have been proven to help in a number of health concerns. In fact, elderberry syrup, a byproduct of elderberries, have become a popular natural cold and flu remedy for many. Here we will look at the benefits both elderberries (in their natural state) and elderberry syrup provide to health, as well as how to make elderberry syrup at home.
Elderberries and Elderberry Syrup: The Health Benefits
Already back in 1985, elderberries started gracing the pages of the CRC Handbook of Medicinal Herbs and was also included in the 2000 Mosby’s Nursing Drug as a remedy for colds, flu, hay fever, nasal and chest congestion, and yeast infection. It was later on discovered that the reason why elderberries were able to cure the conditions mentioned was due to its significant effect the immune system.
Here is a quick overview of the main health benefits of the elderberry syrup:
- Boosts immune system: Michael Murray, ND mentioned in his book “The Pill Book Guide to Natural Medicines” that elderberries are rich in flavonoids. These are organic compounds that work as antioxidants by keeping the body’s cells safe against infections or injuries. In addition to flavonoids, elderberries contain vitamins A, B, C, and amino acids, all of which help in improving an individual’s immune system.
- Colds and Flu: Elderberries aid the body in sweating and lowering congestion, which is why it may be an effective remedy for colds and flu. In fact, Sambucol (a regularized elderberry extract) may shorten influenza’s life span to about 3 times. This extract is also comprised of vitamin C plus other herbs which is why it is not confirmed whether elderberry alone could be the cure.
- Sinus Infections: A product that contains Elderberry plant flowers, Sinupret, had significant effects on people suffering from sinus infections. In a study, people who took it did better than those who didn’t. However, like Sambucol, Sinupret also contains other herbs aside from the elderberry flowers.
- Weight Loss: Based on a study conducted in the University of Freiburg in Germany, individuals who had elderberry juice (which was enriched with berry powder extracts and elderberry blossoms) helped reduce their fat percentage, as well has improve their blood pressure and their physical and mental state.
How to Make Elderberry Syrup
Thinking of creating your very own elderberry concoction at home? Here are instructions on how to make this delicious and healthy syrup inspired by Lauren Ware. If you do not have fresh elderberries, you may also use dried or frozen ones.
Estimated preparation time: 45 minutes
Estimated cooking time: 20 minutes
Estimated total time: 1 hour and 5 minutes
Estimated yield: 36 oz
- 2-4 lb elderberries (all stems removed)
- 1 cup honey (preferably organic, local, and raw)
- 5-6 quart sauce pan / pot
- Potato masher
- Cheesecloth and sieve, muslin bag, or jelly bag (for straining the elderberry juice)
(1) Pick out the ripe elderberries. These are usually colored black or blue. Rinse these thoroughly and gently remove the stems using a fork. Once removed, rinse them again and make sure to rinse well. Throw out berries that look moldy, wrinkled, and unripe.
(2) Place the berries in a large bowl or stockpot. Using a potato masher, crush the berries to release the juice. Stir the juice on medium heat. Once it boils, cover and let it simmer for 15 minutes.
(3) Pour mixture in the sieve lined with cheesecloth and place over a large bowl. Let the juice drip for several hours. Gently squeeze or press to release any leftover juice.
(4) In the saucepot, measure about 2-3 cups of the juice. Add ½ cup of water. Let it simmer before stirring in the honey.
(5) Remove the syrup from the heat and pour into a clean glass container. Store in the refrigerator.
How to Use Elderberry Syrup
For colds, flu, sore throat, or other illnesses caused by a viral infection, giving one to two teaspoons of this syrup is sufficient. Do this regularly every 2-3 hours. Note that honey may not be suitable for children under two years of age.
If you want to get the health benefits of the elderberry syrup, why not try making your very own today? You can easily store it in the fridge or even freeze it for convenience. Enjoy!
Are you a berry lover? Here’s 5 wonderful Berry Smoothie Recipes you wouldn’t want to miss out on.
References: SmallFarm | HerbWisdom | Natural Alternative Remedies
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