Elder (Sambucus nigra) has medicinal qualities that have been known since ancient times, being a potent immune-boosting remedy. The syrup made from its berries, which are rich in Vitamin A, Vitamin C and flavonoids, has been long used to prevent colds and flu, as well as to contrast their symptoms. In fact, modern research shows that they can help the body getting rid of many strains of influenza, and shorten the duration of illness by stimulating the immune system. Elder can also help reduce upper respiratory congestion and swelling of the mucous membranes. 1-2 tablespoons of elderberry syrup can be taken daily to keep the immune system strong.
The flowers can also be used to make a tea that helps to break fevers. This tea clears the channels in the body, promoting sweating and elimination via the skin. It also cuts congestion, breaking up catarrh, and soothes the mucous membrane, which makes it ideal for inflammations of the upper respiratory tract.
The flowers are collected in spring and early summer. The berries in August and September.
An immune-boosting elderberries syrup can be easily prepared at home. Here’s the recipe.
All you need is water, sugar (or honey), and elderberries (dried or fresh berries).
- Put the berries in a pot and cover with water. You can add grated ginger for an extra boost.
- Bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes.
- Let it cool, then blend and strain using a strainer or a muslin cloth to obtain the juice.
- Pour the juice in a pot and add 50% of the weight/volume of the juice in sugar or honey (for example add 200g of sugar to 400g of juice).
- Bring to the boil and let it simmer for about 20 minutes.
- Optional: add brandy or vodka to increase shelf life. If you prefer not to add alcohol, then I recommend keeping your syrup in the refrigerator.
- Bottle the syrup.
Take 1-2 tablespoons daily.
Do not take during pregnancy.