By Coach Kat, Feb. 17, 2019, copyright Bronwyn Katdaré 2019
The elder tree (sambucus nigra) has been prized as a “medicine chest” for centuries because of its versatile applications. Black elderberries (sambuci fructus), the fruit of the elder tree, have been used both to prevent and treat the flu, common colds, coughs, sinus pain, back and leg pain, nerve pain, arthritis, inflammation, chronic fatigue, hay fever, and have even been shown to help prevent cancer and to significantly reduce the risk of dementia/Alzheimer’s.
Elderberries are a natural anti-inflammatory and are particularly high in flavonoids (plant-based antioxidants) – higher than blueberries, cranberries, blackberries, and goji berries – and these flavonoids are known to help prevent damage to the body’s cells and boost the immune system. They’re also high in vitamin A and, with the exception of rose hips and black currants, are thought to have the highest levels of vitamin C.
Why does elderberry syrup work for what ails you?
Elderberry syrup is an elixir that has been used for thousands of years for both treating and preventing the illnesses that commonly accompany the cold weather: Coughs, colds, and the mild flu.
Elderberry increases and regulates cytokines in the immune system (Abuja 1998; Middleton 1992; Murkovic 2000; Youdim 2000). This is important because cytokines release cells that search for infection and inflammation in the body.
The chemical compounds in Black Elderberry display antiviral activity, blocking infection by influenza A and B and also herpes simplex-143 (Roschek 1999; Serkedjieva 1990; Zakay-Rones 1999). Compounds block the virus by coating it in chemicals, rendering it non-functional.
Elderberry is also rich in antioxidants, especially flavonoids. Flavonoids prevent free radicals, thereby preventing oxidative stress that damages cells. They also ward off pathogens and allergens. Because Black Elderberry Extract is shown to be bio-available (meaning the body can readily use it) and can increase the anti-oxidant related enzyme activity.
This homemade elderberry syrup (recipe below) incorporates therapeutic doses of ginger, cinnamon, clove, echinacea, and raw honey for added anti-bacterial power and protection. Ginger has been used for centuries to relieve sore throats, alleviate congestion, soothe upset stomachs, and to promote sweating to eliminate toxins in the body. Cinnamon is an antioxidant-rich, warming spice that helps fight infections and viruses and boosts the immune system. Cloves are a natural antiseptic and analgesic, which help eliminate and prevent the spread of germs and provide relief for sore throats. Cloves also act as an expectorant, making it easier to cough up phlegm. Raw honey has antimicrobial and antiviral properties that inhibit the growth of microbes and fight bacterial infections, as well as inhibit viral activity. It is also an effective cough suppressant, soothes sore throats, may inhibit allergens, and is a natural sleep aid especially in children. If you can find it, raw buckwheat honey has the highest level of antioxidants. Echinacea activates chemicals in the body that decrease inflammation, which might reduce cold and flu symptoms. It can stimulate the body's immune system and also attacks yeast and other kinds of fungi directly.
ELDERBERRY SYRUP RECIPE:
· 1 1/3 cup elderberries
· 8 cups filtered water
· 4 TBSP ginger root
· 2 tsp Organic Cinnamon
· 1 tsp Organic Ground Cloves
· 1 cup echinacea root
· 2 cups raw honey (local is best)
1. Pour water and all ingredients except honey into a pan.
2. Bring to boil, turn heat down until you have a gentle boil, then cover. Boil for 45 minutes to 1 hour. The liquid will reduce to about half. Stir occasionally to keep from boiling over.
3. Remove from heat and mash berries with a ladle, potato masher, or fork. Allow to cool.
4. Pour through strainer into bowl. A mini strainer from the works very well to get the out the smaller pieces or pour into a paper coffee filter a little at a time and SQUEEZE the mixture through until you get out no more liquid.
5. Add raw honey into the cooled liquid and stir well.
6. Store in mason jars in the fridge.
7. Take 1 tsp daily for children and 1 TBS daily for adults. When illness is starting, take the daily dose every 4 hours until the symptoms are gone.
**Omit Echinacea and Honey if giving this to infants under 1 year of age.**
**DRIED BLACK ELDERBERRIES: The easiest form of elderberries to use for making syrup is dried. They store well and you can conveniently grab them as needed to make small batches of syrup that will remain fresh and potent before you need to make another batch. DO NOT EAT THE BERRIES.**
**For prevention, some sources recommend taking the syrup only during the weekdays and skipping the weekends to boost immunity.**