Thursday, 2 March 2017

DIY Elderberry Syrup

Elderberry Syrup

When it comes to cold and flu season, elderberry syrup is your best friend. The research on it is pretty impressive, however, the store bought stuff can get pretty pricey and like all pre-made products, it doesn't always have the most beneficial ingredients. Thankfully, this super delicious concoction is super easy to make at home.

One study published in 2004
"investigated the efficacy and safety of oral elderberry syrup for treating influenza A and B infections. Sixty patients (aged 18-54 years) suffering from influenza-like symptoms for 48 h or less were enrolled in this randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study during the influenza season of 1999-2000 in Norway. Patients received 15 ml of elderberry or placebo syrup four times a day for 5 days, and recorded their symptoms using a visual analogue scale. Symptoms were relieved on average 4 days earlier and use of rescue medication was significantly less in those receiving elderberry extract compared with placebo. Elderberry extract seems to offer an efficient, safe and cost-effective treatment for influenza."
In a more recent study published in 2011
"it was shown that a standardized elderberry liquid extract possesses antimicrobial activity against both Gram-positive bacteria of Streptococcus pyogenes and group C and G Streptococci, and the Gram-negative bacterium Branhamella catarrhalis in liquid cultures. The liquid extract also displays an inhibitory effect on the propagation of human pathogenic influenza viruses."
What's even more interesting is that Tamiflu, the standard pharmaceutical treatment for flu treatment, cuts flu symptoms from 7 days to 6.3 days (3)- so about half a day, while research on Elderberry Syrup has shown that 90% of people recovered from flu within 2-3 days (4)!

What it means? Research shows that not only can elderberry syrup help prevent getting ill with the flu (or other cold or virus) it can also help you get over it quicker which reduces the risk of developing a secondary infection like pneumonia and it can also help clear a bacterial respiratory infection if you do get one. And the best part, no side effects or drug interactions have been reported with Elderberries(1) and it can be used with children (2).

Making your own syrup might sound daunting but it's actually incredibly easy, often the hardest part is finding elderberries. If you live here in KW, you can easily pick them up at Distinctly Tea (in the Bauer Lofts- where I grab mine) or you can order online through Herbie's Herbs in Toronto. The rest of the ingredients can easily be found at any grocery store or even Bulk Barn!

Elderberry Syrup Recipe

  • 2/3 cup dried black elderberries
  • 3 1/2 cups water
  • 2 in piece of fresh ginger
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 tsp dried cloves
  • 5-6 star anise pods
  • 1 cup raw honey
1. Add elderberries, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, star anise and water to a medium saucepan. 
2. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cover. Simmer for 45 minutes to an hour or until it has reduced to about half.
3. Remove from heat and let cool for a bit until cool enough to handle. Pour through a strainer into a mason jar. Be sure to mash the berries with the back of a spoon a bit to extract all the liquid (and medicinal benefits).
4. Wait until liquid is lukewarm and add in the 1 cup of honey. You can either mix with a spoon or place lid on mason jar and shake until completely mixed. Note: do not add honey to hot elderberry tea as it will destroy some of the benefits of the raw honey.
5. Store in the fridge.

Standard dose for kids is 1 tsp/day and adults 1 tbsp/day. For specific dosing speak with your ND or health care provider. 
NOTE: because you are using honey, it is NOT suitable for children under 1 year of age.

Interested in the ingredient benefits? Read on!

  • Antiviral, immune enhancing, antioxidant (2)
  • Used for influenza, common cold and other acute viral infections (2)
  • Suitable for children (1)

  • Antioxidant and antimicrobial (2)
  • Used for acute infections, fever, common cold, acute bronchitis (2)

  • Antioxidant, antimicrobial- bacterial, fungal, yeast (6)
  • Indicated for use with the common cold (viral infections) (2)

  • Highly antioxidant, antimicrobial- both bacterial and fungal, antiviral and has analgesic (anti-pain) properties (5)

Star Anise
  • Antimicrobial, antioxidant and analgesic
  • Interestingly, star anise is the major source of shikimic acid one of the main ingredients in the anti-flu drug Tamiflu! (7)

1. Hoffman, David, Medical Herbalism The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine.  2003.
2. Bone, Kerry. The Ultimate Herbal Compendium, 2007.
3. Cochrane Review: Tamiflu vs Relenza
4. Mumcuoglu, Madeleine, et al. Inhibition of Several Strains of Influenza Virus in Vitro and Reduction of Symptoms by an Elderberry Extract (Sambucus nigra L.) during an Outbreak of Influenza B Panama
5. Cortes-Rojas, Diego Francisco, et al. Clove (Syzygium aromaticum): a precious spice
6. Rao, Pasupuleti Visweswara, et al. Cinnamon: A Multifaceted Medicinal Plant 
7. Wang, Guo-Wei, et al. Illicium verum: A review on its botany, traditional use, chemistry and pharmacology

Disclaimer: The information contained in these topics is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, it is provided for educational purposes only. This information shouldn’t take the place of seeing a Naturopathic Doctor or your primary care provider for individualized health recommendations.

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