Cold and flu season is here. As both a teacher and a mother, you can imagine the amount of germs that I am exposed to as well as bring into our home on a daily basis. While I’m not anti-medication per se, I do prefer to try natural methods as preventative options when given the chance.
By no means am I an expert, merely a mom who has taken an active interest in alternative methods to big pharma, and wanted to share what we use and works for our family. Obviously you can make changes to adjust to your own personal preferences as well as perform your own research about adding ingredients.
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I was first introduced to elderberries and their immense benefits a few years back. I had heard that they were great – a super fruit – and wanted to do more research. I found that they are considered an immunity booster, and some report that they aid in weight loss, lowering blood pressure, and even slowing the progress of cancer. Whether or not those are true, I’m not sure, but I do know that they certainly are not hurting anything.
I searched high and low trying to find a way to prepare the syrup in a way that the kids would actually consume it. I found that adding additional ingredients both increased the health benefits, but also helped the flavor.
Cloves: Cloves are known as an anti-inflammatory aid and a local anesthetic. I even hear that rubbing clove oil on gums can help to alleviate tooth pain. Additionally, they have a warming and soothing quality which make them an obvious additive to a cold and flu remedy.
Ginger: It is fairly common knowledge that ginger is an aid in anti-nausea. I can remember my sister gnawing on crystallized ginger in the car as a young child to help prevent car-sickness. Additional benefits include reducing arthritis pain, relieving excessive gas, as well as helping with pain associated with the flu.
Cinnamon: Cinnamon is a very common spice, and one that people often forget has added health benefits. It has been linked to decreasing inflammation as well as being a booster for your body to fight infections. Additionally, it is an excellent source of antioxidants.
Local Honey: Honey is amazing. It has an unlimited shelf life and many health benefits. It is used to soothe and coat a sore throat, ease a cough, and helps to kill some bacteria. Many swear by it for seasonal allergy relief as well. You can find local honey at farmer’s markets or health food stores in your area. If you are unable to get local honey, a great substitute is this one.
The recipe is relatively easy. I used organic and local items as much as possible, as this was meant to be used as a health booster. I have been very happy with these elderberries. Where I live, it is often a long drive to get access to bulk organic items, so Amazon is my best friend. This recipe was adapted from Mountain Rose Herbs.
- 3 cups water
- ¾ c dried organic Elderberries (4 oz)
- 1 c raw local honey (if not available, this is a great option)
- 1 organic cinnamon stick or 1 tsp ground organic cinnamon
- ½ tsp organic ground cloves or 5-6 whole organic cloves
- 1 tsp organic ground ginger
Place berries, water, and spices in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for approximately 45 minutes, or until liquid is reduced by one half. Mash the berries up in the liquid, then strain into a bowl. I like to use a wooden spoon to help strain the mashed berries. Save the berries for compost or discard. Allow the mixture to cool before adding the honey. Once the honey is added, pour into a jar which can be sealed tight and refrigerate. Will last for 2-3 weeks stored in the fridge.
The standard dose for children is ½ – 1 tsp daily and for adults, ½ -1 tbsp daily. If a cold or flu is present, continue doses approximately every 2-3 hours until symptoms disappear. As always, honey is not recommended for children under the age of 12 months.
One way that I have found that I really enjoy my syrup, especially if I’m not feeling well, is in a cup of hot tea. I like to add natural sweetener such as honey anyway, so the added boost from the Elderberry and other spices are double duty! I like to multitask when I can.
Some people enjoy using this syrup on their pancakes and waffles. I haven’t tried it yet, but I’m certainly intrigued! What other ways might you use Elderberry syrup?