Disclaimer: this is for entertainment purposes only. None of these claims should be taken as medical advice, and you should always seek the care of a medical professional if you're sick.
I love fall. I love the leaves crunching under my feet, the smell in the air, sweaters, extra baking, and that its the season to whip up my favorite syrups and folk remedies. I've made elderberry syrup for the past few years, and it serves us well. It's touted as one of mother nature's "flu shots." Elderberry syrup is one tool among our wellness arsenal, so I can't say for sure if it really works, but we haven't gotten the flu yet (knock on wood).
Elderberries are widely known to be a strong source of vitamin c, which they are. I wanted to learn more though, so I found some clinical trials for standardized elderberry syrup extract (aka, the elderberry syrup you can buy in brick and mortar stores and online). What I learned was pretty amazing.
These little berries, which aren't berries at all, but are actually something called a drupe, originate from Europe, and outperform allopathic flu remedies in clinical trials. Researchers still aren't quite sure why, but they think it may have something to do with anthocyanins. In trials, blood plasma levels peaked to correspond with dosing. Pretty cool. Overall, using a standardized syrup cuts the duration for the flu (the trials saw type a and b) in half. So the bug that kept us on our couches as kids, sipping flat ginger ale, and making mad dashes for the bathroom, and out of school for a week at a time, doesn't have to be so.
But what are these anthocyanins? See "cyan" in there, as in that blue ink in your printer? Anthocyanins is just the blue (or red or purple) pigment in various fruits. That's it. But it's a bioflavonoid, and even the NIH cites them as having a "demonstrated ability to protect against a myriad of human diseases." (If it's in quotations marks they own the grammatical error, right?) Anthocyanins from various fruits can do anything from improving night vision, treating hypertension, to inhibiting tumor growth and protecting the heart, and a host of other benefits!
Scientists aren't sure why these tiny flavonoids are so amazing, because they are one variety among over 4,000, and because they never act independently. (Hmm, do chemicals within the context of the human body ever act independently? Isn't it all about maintaining an ideal balance?) The interdependent nature of anthocyanins makes them difficult to research, specifically in terms of their bioavailability and how they ultimately function in human chemistry. But we know they help. The clinical trials I looked at, they reduced the duration of flu symptoms from around 8 days to as little as 3 days, and they reduced fever. Bioavailability markers varied.
So for the little drupe that could, here's how I came about this year's recipe. I originally started with Wellness Mama's recipe, when Lovebug was tiny. I've changed it up with each batch, and this is what I did for my first batch this year. You could also freeze this in ice cube trays if you want to portion it.
2/3 cup black elderberries, dried, preferably organic
3.5 cups filtered water or spring water (just the best water you can get)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp allspice
1/8 tsp cardamom
1 cup local, raw honey
- Bring water, all berries and all spices to a boil.
Reduce heat to a simmer and cover. Simmer until liquid is reduced by half (usually around 45 minutes, sometimes as long as an hour).
Add garlic If using, honey and stir to combine
Strain through cheesecloth or a tea towel.
Store in a mason jar in the fridge.
Keeps for around 3 months (use your nose and watch for mold - the only batch that didn't last 3 months is the one where I tried adding lemon juice).
I usually give it a gentle shake before each use.
We also take a daily dose of fermented cod liver oil and butter oil, and I'm making fire cider for the first time this year.
Do you use elderberry syrup? How has it helped you and your family? What other folk remedies do you like, or do you hope to try soon?
I am the mama who is over the moon in love with her family and green living.