First things first, I don’t get the flu shot. I don’t give my kids the flu shot either. By their own admission in the flu shot package insert, the manufacturers can’t guarantee the efficacy of the shot, and you may or may not be getting the strain in the vaccine that happens to be going around that season. I refuse to put anything harmful into my body, especially when it’s a crapshoot as to whether it will even work or not. I think that as a society in general, we overeat, overindulge, and overmedicate. People are so quick to put a bandage on an ailment, but completely overlook the importance of prevention. No judgment here – I used to be that person….but then I learned better. When we learn better, we do better. Knowledge is power, people!
Anyway, regardless of whichever side of the flu shot fence you sit, I think it’s important to feed your body with natural, life giving things that will boost your immune system. When I began my research into natural ways to combat the ills of cold and flu season, one ingredient was constant among studies and friends for the prevention of the flu: ELDERBERRIES. What’s an elderberry, you ask?
Used for its antioxidant activity, the elderberry has been effective in lowering cholesterol, improving vision, boosting the immune system, improving heart health and for coughs, colds, flu, bacterial and viral infections and tonsilitis. Elderberry juice was used to treat a flu epidemic in Panama in 1995. Bioflavonoids and other proteins in the juice destroy the ability of cold and flu viruses to infect a cell. People with the flu who took elderberry juice reported less severe symptoms and felt better much faster than those who did not.
My dear friend Jessica is incredibly knowledgable about natural remedies for everything under the sun, and wrote a great blog post called Flu Fighters, which included a recipe for elderberry syrup. She also gifted me with some dried elderberries (in this adorable little jar), so I decided to give her recipe a whirl!
There was probably an equivalent to about two cups of elderberries in the jar, so keep that in mind when you make your own. You will need more or less flavoring and/or sweetener to taste, depending on how much you make at one time.
First, you need to boil your elderberries. Once it has boiled, reduce heat and simmer for about 45 minutes.
When cool, mash berries and strain into a container to get liquid. I have neither a fine strainer nor a handheld potato masher, so I had to improvise. I used a wooden meat tenderizer to mash the berries, followed by the bottom of a plastic cup to make sure I’d gotten every ounce of liquid out of those berries.
Here’s what it looked like after I was done mashing. Next, I strained the berries. I don’t have pictures of that process, because it was messy. I didn’t have a strainer with a small enough mesh, so I strained through paper towels. It actually worked out pretty great because I was able to squeeze the berries by hand, getting out the optimal amount of juice, so I will probably continue to use that method.
Now it’s time to sweeten/flavor. I only used honey this time because I wanted to see how receptive my kids would be to the flavor. Next time around, I plan to use my Young Living Essential Oils to flavor. Those are additionally fantastic for boosting the immune system, they taste great, and are safe to ingest (I only recommend Young Living for this, as ingesting others can make you sick, due to added chemicals).
Once I mixed the desired amount of honey, I poured into a mason jar for storage. This will keep in the fridge for up to three months. Take 1-2 tablespoons a day for adults and 1-2 teaspoons a day for kids for illness prevention. You can take three times that dose if suffering from illness.
Elderberry Syrup Recipe
Boil water with desired amount of elderberries. Once it has boiled, reduce heat and simmer for about 45 minutes. When cool, mash berries and strain to get liquid. Add 2 Tablespoons of honey (more or less to taste) to the liquid and mix well. You can also add clove sticks, cinnamon, ginger, lemon, etc. Will store in fridge for up to 3 months. Take 1-2 Tablespoons a day for adults or 1-2 teaspoons a day for kids for illness prevention. Take three times that amount if suffering from illness.