Its October and elderberry season is here! As the leaves and flavors turn to golden oranges, reds and browns, October also reminds me that ’tis the season for the juice of elderberry to be summoned for health and a seasonal immune system boost. Elderberry, though poisonous to most people when eaten raw, becomes a nutrient power house when cooked and offers a rich and yummy immune system boost. Elderberry is a spectacular berry rich in Vitamin C and A with potent anti-viral/anti-microbial abilities and as its flavor suggests is also packed variety of anti-inflammatory and immune strengthening flavonoids.
Elderberry is my go to herbal medicine for the cold and flu season and I use it all season long to prevent the flu but also to shorten and reduce duration and intensity of symptoms if the cold or flu does hit. Remember that as a homeopath and a student of traditional medicine, in our understanding of health and disease– getting sick once or twice a year is actually a good thing and a chance for the immune system to work, strengthen itself and shine. Albeit, a lot of its shine comes through yellow snot but according to all natural systems of medicines, occasional and seasonal colds and flus are natural physiological exercises that the human organism must go through to build immune system strength and protect from more dangerous chronic diseases. Because we understand disease as having purpose in the development and function of human health, I only use natural medicines that work in line with nature to enhance the immune system rather than suppressive medicines that attempt to eradicate natural processes (like our current mainstream allopathic use of anti-fever, anti-cold, anti-flu, medications and vaccines). And elderberry syrup really is a star in its immune strengthening powers against infectious upper respiratory illness. And the best part is, the kids love it! As in the words of my daughter “it’s the best homemade juice!”
Though it is extremely useful it can also be extremely expensive to buy. Making your own elderberry syrup is a cheap and easy alternative to the store bought kind.
I am not one to measure when I cook or make medicines. But I do know general proportions and will share my most basic elderberry recipe here:
2 cups of organic dried elderberries
6 cups of water
2 inches of ginger root (cut in large pieces)
2 cinnamon sticks
1 orange (squeeze juice and throw in skin)
1 tsp cloves
natural sweetener (I use maple syrup or raw honey)
Put everything in the the pot (except the sweetener) and put on high pressure in instant pot for 7 minutes or simmer on stove top for 45 minutes. Then lift lid off instant pot or stove top pot and let it boil (under saute option on instant pot) without the lid for about 15 minutes to reduce the liquid volume. When the liquid is at about half of when you started turn off heat and let it cool. Before its completely cooled and still a bit warm add whatever natural sweetener you like. I use about 2.5 tbsp of maple syrup or ½ cup of raw honey, anymore that that tends to be too sweet for us.
I make sure that everyone in the family has 1 tbsp. a day during cold/flu season and more if a cold or flu hits.