Practical Self Reliance: Homemade Elderberry Syrup

Ashley of Practical Self Reliance has a nice, detailed article on making immune-boosting elderberry syrup at home. My family has made and used elderberry at home for a few years now. We’ve used elderberry syrup, elderberry rob, and elderflower syrup. If you don’t have elderberries at home, you can purchase commercial Sambucol – an over the counter elderberry syrup. Our young children like taking the syrups, but not the rob which has a more medicinal taste. Nonetheless I’ll include an elderberry rob recipe after the Practical Self Reliance excerpt.

Elderberry syrup is a common immune-boosting home remedy for colds and flus.  It can be expensive to purchase, but homemade elderberry syrup is easier than you think…

Homemade Elderberry Syrup

Benefits of Elderberry Syrup

While elderberry has been a folk remedy for centuries, modern science is validating these age-old uses.  Studies have found that elderberry syrup can reduce the duration of flus, as well as boost the immune system in both the healthy and sick.

Elderberry Syrup Cold & Flu Treatments

A placebo-controlled study on flu patients found that with a tablespoon (15 ml) of elderberry syrup taken 4x per day,  “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.”

Another influenza study cooked elderberry syrup into slow-release lozenges, but administered a similar dosage 4x a day.  The effects were dramatic…

“The extract-treated group showed significant improvement in most of the symptoms except 24 hours after the onset of the treatment, whereas the placebo group showed no improvement or an increase in severity of the symptoms at the same time point. By 48 hours, 9 patients (28%) in the extract-treated group were void of all symptoms, 19 patients (60%) showed relief from some symptoms… In contrast, complete recovery was not achieved by a single patient in the placebo group [during the 48 hour monitoring period].”

They concluded that elderberry extract is safe and highly effective in treating flu‐like symptoms.”

Elderberry Syrup For the Immune System

After several studies confirmed that elderberry syrup can shorten the duration of the flu, another study tried to determine the effects of elderberry syrup on a healthy immune system.  They found that a commercially available elderberry syrup (Sambucol) substantially increased immune activity, even in healthy people.

“We conclude from this study that, in addition to its antiviral properties, Sambucol Elderberry Extract and its formulations activate the healthy immune system by increasing inflammatory cytokine production. Sambucol might, therefore, be beneficial to the immune system activation and in the inflammatory process in healthy individuals or in patients with various diseases. Sambucol could also have an immunoprotective or immunostimulatory effect when administered to cancer or AIDS patients, in conjunction with chemotherapeutic or other treatments.”

Jar of homemade elderberry syrup with raw honey

Click here to read the entire article with recipe at Practical Self Reliance.

Click here to download a pdf of only Ashley’s Elderberry Syrup recipe.

Elderberry Rob

The following elderberry rob recipe comes from The Joys of Jams, Jellies, and Other Sweet Preserves by Linda Ziedrich.

In a saucepan combine equal volumes of elderberry juice and sugar or honey. Heat the contents over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Raise the heat to medium-high and boil the mixture to a thick syrup.

Pour the rob into sterilized bottles, and cap or cork them tightly. Store the bottles in a cool, dark, dry place, where the rob should keep for at least a year.

To use, mix a tablespoon or two in a cup of hot water and drink.

We water bath can our rob when we make it. If you use honey, the high heat of both boiling and canning probably does lose some of the health benefit of honey, in which case it is mostly just adding sweetness.