Elderberry is a dark purple-colored berry from the European elder tree used to formulate medicine and shouldn’t be confused with the Elderflower, Dwarf Elder, or American Elder.
Some people take the berry by mouth for the flu (influenza), common cold, and many other ailments, though there’s not enough scientific evidence to support its uses.
Although, aside from their medicinal use, elderberries are also great for making wine, tea, jams, syrups, pies, and jellies.
Elderberries As a Natural Remedy for the Cold and Flu
Elderberries have been used as immune support for centuries. However, there is a lack of scientific evidence supporting these berries’ benefits in fighting the common cold and influenza. There’s some research stating elderberry’s potential to reduce flu symptoms, but the evidence isn’t strong enough to recommend using it as a sole cure for flu.
Bear in mind that many teas, tinctures, and syrups contain elderberry flowers, elderberry extract, and other ingredients such as echinacea, which can also impact your immune system.
What Are the Benefits of Elderberry?
Elderberries are receiving plenty of attention due to clinical research showing some elderberry extracts and lozenges may aid in reducing flu-like symptoms and duration if administered within 48 hours of onset. However, that doesn’t mean it prevents or cures flu.
The berries and flowers of the elderberry plant are chock-full of vitamins and antioxidants that may boost the immune system. Elderberries could help lessen stress, tame inflammation, or even protect your heart. Some medical experts recommended taking elderberry to help ease and prevent cold and flu symptoms.
Elderberries were also used to treat:
Joint and muscle pain
Infections affecting how you breathe
Minor skin conditions
HIV and AIDS
Are Elderberries Safe to Eat?
Certain elderberries aren’t safe to eat, so be sure that the ones you purchase are safe. Cooked dried black elderberries are deemed safe to consume as long as you cook them entirely and get them from a safe and reliable source. You can also pick the fruits of elderberries for chickens to eat, though you have to be careful, especially if your flock has access to a tree or a bush.
The National Institutes of Health National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) states that the stems, leaves, unripe and raw berries, and other parts of the elder tree are toxic, so you should avoid those. They also warn against taking significant amounts of elderberry flowers because they may also contain the same substance.
This recipe only uses the black elder (Sambucus nigra L) or also called the Euro Elder or black elderberry.
Elderberries are high in dietary fiber (10.2 g per cup) and vitamin C (52.2 mg per cup). One cup of elderberries also contains:
26.7 grams of carbs
0.7 grams of fat
1 gram of protein
How to Make Homemade Elderberry Syrup
Making homemade elderberry syrup is pretty easy. You can either use dried elderberries or fresh black elderberries for this recipe. The latter can be used to make pies, beverages, or jams using the muddled fruit or the juice. However, it’s vital to note that these foods may not contain the essential concentration to get the syrup or extract’s clinical effect.
You’ll need dried elderberries, honey, water, cinnamon sticks, and fresh ginger for this recipe. Making the elderberry syrup will take just a few steps and around an hour to finish. Additionally, you can make it for a percentage of the cost of purchasing a bottle of elderberry syrup.
¾ cup dried elderberries
3 cups water
3 -inch piece fresh ginger, sliced
2 cinnamon sticks
½ cup honey
In a small saucepan, place elderberries, the water, ginger, and cinnamon, and then bring to a boil. Simmer uncovered for about 45 -60 minutes until the mixture decreases by half.
Remove the pan from the heat. Allow the fruit and spices to steep and cool slightly. With a fork or a potato masher, mash the elderberries to extract as much of their juice as possible.
Strain the elderberry juice into a bowl or jar using a fine-mesh sieve, cheesecloth, or nut milk bag. Throw away the spent berries, cinnamon sticks, and ginger.
Whisk in the one-third cup honey until thoroughly combined. With that, your elderberry syrup is done! Store the syrup in a sealed bottle or jar in the refrigerator.
Note: The elderberry syrup will last for at least a week or even longer, depending on the amount of honey you put in and perhaps how often you open the bottle or jar.
How Much Elderberry Syrup Should You Take?
The amount of elderberry syrup you should take depends mainly on how strong your syrup, extract, gummy, or lozenge is. Using about two teaspoons every day may be helpful when you have an active cold. However, it would help if you discussed this with your personal health care provider, as it might be a different case for you.
Though there are people who take the elderberry syrup daily, it’s not necessarily recommended because it hasn’t been studied for long-term everyday use.