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.

Organic Prepper: Fire Cider – How to Make a Remedy for the Flu

Herbalist and author Cat Ellis writes this post about Fire Cider, a flu remedy, for The Organic Prepper. Cat Ellis also has her own web site Herbal Prepper.

Fire Cider: How to Make a Fast, Effective Remedy for the Flu

One of my favorite remedies for cold and flu season is fire cider. It’s loaded with anti-inflammatory, immune-supporting, and decongestant herbs. Best of all, it’s super simple to make. Even though the combination sounds bizarre, it’s actually tasty in a sweet and sour kind of way.

Fire cider can be made entirely with items from the grocery store, or customized with more exotic herbs from an herb shop. I even have an “instant” version to share with you…

When we have the flu, we feel congested, achy, feverish, and have a bad cough. The traditional recipe for fire cider is loaded with simple, familiar, yet potent, ingredients which address each of those complaints.

Garlic

Garlic is well-known for its immune-supporting effects. It also acts as an expectorant and an anti-inflammatory, which helps those painful coughs and body aches. It is also known as a diaphoretic, which means it causes the body to sweat. This helps to reduce fevers naturally. Thankfully, fresh garlic is a common ingredient in most grocery stores.

Onion

Onion and garlic are both alliums, and therefore are related plants. They also share some similarities in properties. The unassuming onion is a potent expectorant and eases coughs. Onion is often used in cough syrups for this reason. Onions are so accessible in every store, please do use fresh onion.

Ginger

Warming ginger root also helps to induce sweating and fever reduction. Ginger also acts as an antispasmodic, which helps to ease those terrible coughing fits. It is highly recommended to use fresh ginger root (technically, it’s a rhizome, but no one ever bothers to call it that).

Horseradish

Horseradish is excellent for relieving congestion. It is also an effective diaphoretic (sweat-inducing/fever-reducing) herb. On top of that, horseradish is also an expectorant. What could be better for the flu? Sometimes, horseradish can be hard to find at the grocery store. It is in the mustard family, so go ahead and substitute some crushed mustard seed or mustard powder if you need to.

Cayenne

Cayenne is hot, but it is also a superior anti-inflammatory. I use it every time I’m congested to relieve the inflammation in my sinuses which make the sensation of congestion worse. This hot pepper can also get a congested nose running again, making blowing your nose a lot more productive. You can use any kind of hot pepper you wish. You can use fresh hot peppers, cayenne powder, or red pepper flakes.

Turmeric

Is there anyone left who doesn’t know that turmeric is anti-inflammatory? Because of this, turmeric is a huge help for reducing that achy feeling we get with the flu. There’s only one grocery store near me that sells it fresh. If you can find it fresh, great. If not, use the powdered herb.

Apple cider vinegar

Of all natural health products, apple cider vinegar has probably more health claims to it than any other. I’m dubious about most of these claims. However, it is a good menstruum (solvent) to extract the benefits out of the other ingredients. It also does seem to help ease coughing and congestion. I stick with the raw apple cider vinegar, and thankfully, this is also a common grocery store item.

Lemon

There is just something so wonderful about lemon. It lends both its bright flavor and its powerful decongestant properties to this recipe. You can use fresh lemon slices or add lemon juice at the end. Also, play with adding lime and other citrus fruits for fun.

Honey

Honey is effective at calming coughs. Our kids’ pediatrician was thrilled when we told her we keep bees, as cough suppressants had been found ineffective for children, while honey had been shown effective as a cough suppressant. Honey lends the sweet flavor to this hot, sweet, and sour remedy. Honey is added at the end…

I know, I know, a lot of people are thinking, “It takes two weeks or longer to make, but I”m sick now!” That’s ok, I’ve got you covered with an instant version. Check out the video below to see how this herbal wizardry comes together.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=soYIDALYoeQ

Click here to read the entire article. If you don’t want to, or can’t, watch the videos, the article has the text instructions for making the two-week fire cider.

Related:

The Medic Shack: The Late but Useful Obligatory Cold and Flu Post

Doom and Bloom: Deadly Viruses, Part 3

Nurse Amy and Dr. Alton of Doom and Bloom Medicine have the third part of a series on Deadly Viruses up at the website. This installment goes into detail about influenza, the virus that kills around half a million people each year.

Spanish Flu ward

During a typical flu season, up to 500,000 people worldwide will die from the illness, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). In the U.S., it’s usually about 30,000, mostly among the very elderly or immune-compromised. But occasionally, when a new strain emerges, a pandemic results with a faster spread of disease and, often, higher mortality rates. Last year, 80,000 U.S. residents failed to recover from the flu.

The deadliest flu pandemic, sometimes called the Spanish flu, began in 1918 and sickened up to 40 percent of the world’s population, killing an estimated 50-100 million people. Indeed, it was a factor in bringing about the end of World War I.

Could such a flu pandemic happen again? If a true long-term disaster scenario occurs, we’ll be thrown, medically, back to that era, so it’s possible. Despite this, many don’t take measures to prevent it.

Click here to read the entire article at Doom and Bloom.