What is Elderberry?
Elderberry is a small tree that has its origins in North America. European version of Elderberry can be found growing throughout Europe and also in Asia and North Africa. The flowers, leaves, berries, bark and roots of elderberries have been used in folk remedy for centuries. “The medicine cabinet of the common people” is an epithet that is well earned in the case of elderberry. Elderberry has not been studied much by western medicine but already many medicinal benefits have been rediscovered. Apart from several benefits, elderberry syrup for colds has been used for centuries.
Elderberry syrup for colds
Elderberry has multiple uses as it is a potent antioxidant and has a capability to boost immunity. Flower water of elderberry can be used as a soothing gargle and infusions of blossoms combined with other herbs can be used for quickening the recovery from common cold or flu. Old remedy against common colds and flu is the juice from the berries. Elderberry juice is also believed to bring relief to asthma and bronchitis. Research made with elderberry juice has confirmed that it has the capability to destroy the ability of cold and flu viruses to infect a cell. People with flu taking the elderberry juice have been shown to have less severe symptoms and recover faster than those not taking the juice.
Scientific studies made in Germany have showed that elderberry anthocyanins boost the production of cytokines thus enhancing the function of the immune system. Cytokines act as messengers in the immune system, helping to regulate immune response and thus helping to defend the body against disease. Same studies also indicated that anthocyanins found in elderberries posses high antioxidant capacity. This is how Elderberry syrup for colds is considered so effective.
Availability and use of Elderberry syrup
Elderberry is available at least as a syrup, tincture, capsules and lozenges. You can also find dried elder flowers standardized at least 0, 8% flavonoids. One of the most famous elderberry products is called Sambucol. You can buy Sambucol at least in the form of extracts and capsules. Sinupret is another commercial brand that is quite popular. Consisting of elderberry and other herbs, Sinupret is mainly used to support healthy sinus and respiratory function.
As with many other common cold remedies, also Elderberry syrup for colds should be used as soon as the symptoms of cold or flu start occurring. Here are some examples of use for adults:
- Tea: steep 3-5 grams of dried elder flower in 1 cup of boiling water for 10-15 minutes. Strain and drink three times per day
- Sinupret: take two tablets three times per day for bacterial sinusitis
- Sambucol: For cold and flu take four tablespoons per day for three days
Restrictions on use
Raw berries should not be used since they can cause nausea and vomiting. It is advisable to use commercially prepared syrups or extracts, since the roots, leaves and stems of elderberries can contain a source of toxic cyanide. Flowers of elderberry are usually safe, only mild gastrointestinal stress or allergic reactions can occur. Irregular heartbeat and diarrhea are side effects that can in some very rare cases occur. If you are pregnant, nursing or have a complex liver disease it is recommendable to avoid using elderberry. Before using elderberry in young children, please consult your physician.
How to make Elderberry syrup for colds
It is relatively easy to make your own Elderberry syrup for colds, especially if you are lucky enough to live in an area where elderberries grow
- 2/3 cup of dried elderberries
- 3 1/2 cups water
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 cup of raw honey
Instructions on how to make Elderberry syrup for colds
- Pour the water into a medium sized saucepan and add elderberries and cinnamon. You may even experiment by adding some dried ginger and cloves to your syrup while cooking it.
- Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer.
- Let it cook for 45 minutes to an hour. By then the liquid should have reduced by half.
- Pour the mixture through a strainer into a glass jar and discard the elderberries.
- Let the liquid cool for a while but not until cold. When it is no longer hot, pour in the cup of honey and stir until the honey is dissolved.
- Put on a lid and store the syrup in your fridge. It will last in the fridge for several months
Need to store it for longer periods of time or making a double batch? Just freeze whenever you don’t want to keep in the fridge. It will not lose its nutrients and healing powers in the freezer. Note: Only ripe berries should be used and no leaves should be added to the syrup mixture.
Elderberries syrup for small children
Elderberry syrup for colds is usually safe to consume by children although the dose in small children should be much lower than for adults and teenagers. Stores will sometimes sell elderberry syrup just for kids which include dosing information on the bottle.
It is important to note that especially the homemade version should not be given to children under one year of age due to the honey in the syrup. Also, if you do make the syrup yourself, be sure not to let your children consume the berries raw as they can cause severe nausea, diarrhea and other gastrointestinal symptoms. Caution is advised if you go out to pick your own elderberries.