"Chicken soup is good for the flu" and "Sweat out a fever with spicy food." These are a few of the home remedies my mother has taught me through the years. While they may not be in line with conventional medicine, homeopathic remedies have been in use to help soothe ailments for thousands of years. Some people like to sip on a Hot Toddy to soothe their throats, others take Elderberry syrup, which is said to help with cold and flu symptoms as well as booth one's immune system.
Health Benefits of Elderberry Syrup
Elderberry (scientific name Sambucus nigra L) is a small dark berry found on the European Elder tree. While the raw berries are toxic, ripe cooked berries are edible and are said to have immune-boosting properties. However, according to Medical News Today, there is little research to back the claim. The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) has yet to confirm if this natural remedy actually works.
Small tests have shown there is a possibility that elderberry juice or elderberry syrup can make an impact during flu season. Small studies have shown taking elderberry juice syrup or elderberry lozenges helped reduce flu symptoms. According to WebMD, elderberry acts like the prescription drug oseltamivir (Tamiflu).
As for using elderberry for heart disease, gingivitis, high cholesterol, toothaches, and cancer, significant evidence has yet to be shown. Taking elderberry extract for 12 weeks did not reduce the risk of heart disease in women. Taking capsules of dried elderberry for two weeks did not reduce cholesterol. Taking elderberry extract does not prevent colds but people still say its medicinal properties are important for immune support.
With that said, people swear elderberry syrup helps. While it may not prevent you from catching a cold entirely, it has been shown to reduce the time and severity of your symptoms. It contains vitamin A, potassium, vitamin C, folate, calcium, and iron, which are helpful when it comes to recovering from an illness, even if medical advice doesn't have much info on it.
Where to Find Elderberry Syrup
There are many ways to take black elderberry. Most commonly it is available in a syrup and can be found in your grocery store, Amazon, or any health food store. Look for syrups with all-natural ingredients like fresh organic elderberries, honey, and cane sugar.
Sambucus elderberry gummies are another option to try out. Tasty and easy to pop, these gummies are packed with Flavonoid BioActives. Some are even vegan!
Made with dried elderberry, these small capsules are swallowed with a cup of water. According to some reviews, taking these capsules may cause diarrhea.
How To Make Homemade Elderberry Syrup
Looking to make your own DIY elderberry syrup recipe instead of buying it at the store? Thankfully making your own antiviral syrup only takes a few minutes. The hardest part is finding the berries. Thankfully many places online sell fresh berries and dried berries.
To start, combine dried elderberries, water, and fresh ginger root in a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil then lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Pour the berries and liquid through a cheesecloth and mesh strainer into a bowl and discard the skins.
Let cool to room temperature then add your sweetener of choice. Raw honey or maple syrup works well. Some people also add cinnamon sticks and cloves to the recipe to add a wintery taste.
Store in a tightly sealed mason jar for up to two weeks and refrigerate.