If you haven’t noticed, elderberry is all the rage these days. But, it’s actually been around since before the 12th century, and today it’s often taken as an immune-boosting supplement to treat cold and flu symptoms. In fact, I was first introduced to elderberry syrup a few years ago when I had the flu. To my surprise, my doctor recommended it over any other over-the-counter or even prescription drugs!
Since then, I’ve been a believer, and it seems that I’m not alone. Statistics show that elderberry syrup is one of the most-used go-to remedies during cooler months. With that said, the raw berries, bark, and leaves of the plant are also known to be poisonous and can cause stomach problems. Today, we’re taking a look at elderberry, the evidence supporting health claims, the dangers of eating it, and how to make your own elderberry syrup.
What Is Elderberry?
Elderberry is a dark purple berry from the European elder tree. Elderberry is part of the Sambucus tree, a flowering plant. The tree is native to Europe but also grows in different parts of the world. The berries are very tart and need to be cooked to be eaten¹.
Benefits of Elderberry
The flowers and leaves have been used for centuries for pain relief, swelling, inflammation, and more. Also, the dried berries and juice have been used to treat influenza, infections, headaches, and dental pain in addition to acting as a laxative and a diuretic1. Although many studies have shown positive outcomes, keep in mind they also mention the need for more clinical studies to draw firm conclusions.
Elderberry is high in nutrients:
- Elderberry contains vitamins A, B6, and C.
- There are 36 mg of vitamin C per 100 grams of fruit, which accounts for up to 60% of the recommended daily intake.2
- Though we don’t count calories, elderberry fruit is a low-calorie food that’s packed with Vitamin C, fiber, and antioxidants as well.
Elderberry can improve cold and flu symptoms:
- Elderberry and elderberry syrup has been shown to reduce the severity of colds and flu symptoms. As mentioned above, my doctor recommended it to me a few years ago, and ever since, I’ve been using it proactively when it’s cold and flu season. I love that it’s all-natural!
- Today, you can easily find elderberry syrup in addition to capsules, tinctures, lozenges, and even gummies. And we’re showing you how to easily make your own homemade elderberry syrup below!
Additional health benefits from elderberries:
- As a natural anti-viral, fresh elderberries have been shown to improve symptoms of cold-like illnesses such as sinusitis, bronchitis, and other harmful bacteria such as H. Pylori, which causes stomach distress.1
- Elderberry may support the immune system. In a study conducted on rats, it was shown to increase the number of white blood cells, thereby supporting immune defense.3 With that being said, elderberry can be useful to take year-round, but many find it helpful to take in the colder months when illnesses seem to run more rampant.
Elderberry Syrup: An Easy Way to Get Benefits
Now for the good stuff! We’re sharing two ways for you to enjoy all this goodness in a great-tasting way: elderberry syrup. For some, simply buying a quality source of elderberry syrup is the way to go. Other people may enjoy making elderberry syrup themselves. Either way, you can reap the health benefits!
Elderberry Syrup from Earthley
Elderberry Syrup (also called Elderberry Elixir) from our partner Earthley is a combination of elderberries and other immune-strengthening organic herbs such as astragalus root, cloves, fresh ginger root, and mullein leaf. Elderberry Elixir is shelf-stable and super-concentrated, meaning you need just a couple of drops each day for regular use (or higher doses if fighting a cold/flu). This syrup is a cost-effective, all-natural way to fight off those germs. This Elderberry Elixer is Gluten-Free, Soy-Free, Corn-Free, Nut-Free, and does not contain Added Sugars, Colors, or Flavors, and is also Vegan. There’s also a special kids formula that is alcohol-free and glycerin-based. Personally speaking, this is the elderberry syrup recipe we take to support our immune systems on a regular basis.
How to Make Elderberry Syrup
Making elderberry syrup at home is fun and easy, especially with the help of Earthley’s Elderberry Syrup DIY Kits. Within each kit, you’ll get:
- Wild-crafted elderberries
- Organic cinnamon chips
- Additional organic herbs (there are two versions—Cough and Cold Formula, and Immune Support—which the herbs will be based on)
Complete directions are included to make the elderberry syrup, but in addition to the ingredients that you get in the kit, you only need to add honey and water. If needed or desired, you can substitute maple syrup or organic sugar.
Using this kit, I made the syrup with my kids. We simply took the concentrate that was provided in the kit and boiled it with two cups of water. We brought it to a boil and let it stay there for 15 minutes. Next, we removed it from the heat and let it cool for 20 minutes. Next, we strained it and added 1/2 cup of raw honey. We needed to add a bit more water (you want the end result to be 2 cups), and we were set!
It was a fun activity that gave us a chance to talk through the importance of trying to stay proactive with our health, not only when it comes to the immune system, but overall.
Which Is Better? Buying Elderberry Syrup or Making It at Home?
Honestly, this is a personal preference. As long as you have quality ingredients (look for wild-crafted berries and organic herbs) in either, they are both good choices.
Earthley’s Elderberry Syrup Kit makes 2 cups, which breaks down to just 65 cents per ounce. This is enough for 30-90 doses for one person, or for a family of four, it will last one month. This is by far the more cost-effective option, especially if you are using full doses to fight off an active cold or flu.
Alternatively, you can buy shelf-stable and super-concentrated Elderberry Elixir pre-made in 1 oz, 2 oz, 4 oz or 8 oz sizes. These come in both kid and original varieties and are very convenient.
Personally speaking, I’m one of those people who think—FUN! I’d love to DIY those candles/lip balms/etc., but in truth, I’m better off buying the product (read: I’m not great at DIY’ing). So I would tend to buy the elixir already made. That being said, this kit is SO easy to use (can someone please make a DIY deodorant kit?!) that I do actually use it. It’s a fun activity with the kids, and it makes a significant quantity. Besides, the price point is SO reasonable.
We did the math so you don’t have to! Below you’ll find a cost comparison for adult serving sizes suitable for fighting the cold/flu. The cost for the kit shown below includes the price of honey (based on the cost per ounce at my local grocery store).
Cough and Cold Syrup Kit: $11 for 32 servings at $0.31 each
8 oz Elixir: $43 for 84 servings at $0.51 each
4 oz Elixir: $26 for 42 servings at $0.62 each
2 oz Elixir: $18 for 21 servings at $0.85 each
1 oz Elixir: $12 for 10.5 servings at $1.14 each
Should You Try Elderberry Syrup?
In summary, elderberry syrup can help provide vitamins, fight off the common cold, and support the immune system. And it’s all-natural! There are two ways to get the syrup—by buying it pre-made, or by making your own. Which would you prefer? And if you’ve been using elderberry syrup with success, we’d love to hear about your experience in the comments below!
The statements within this article have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The products mentioned are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.