If you’ve been looking into over-the-counter medicine alternatives this flu season, elderberries may have popped up on your radar. For thousands of years, elderberry has been used to help heal all sorts of ailments, and today’s modern mamas rely on it to help little ones recover from colds. Before you start adding it to your immunity-support routine, take a read through its history, uses, and our favorite DIY recipes.
What Are Elderberries?
Elderberries are part of the honeysuckle family of plants, and either grow as shrubs or trees (that can reach up to 20 feet tall!). In the spring, mature elderberry plants bloom with white flowers that transform into berries every autumn. The plants are native to Africa, Europe, and parts of Asia, and also grow in many areas of the United States and Canada. A word of caution: Raw elderberries contain a cyanide-producing chemical, and consuming any that haven’t been thoroughly cooked may cause symptoms like nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting.
Native Americans utilized the entire elderberry plant in medicinal applications, even crafting tools from the branches, like arrow shafts and musical instruments. Egyptians used elderberry flowers to boost their complexion and soothe burns. But the healing power of elderberries dates back to the ancient Greek Hippocrates (often referred to as “the father of medicine”), who described the plant as his personal medicine chest for a host of ailments. Once you’ve made a batch of your own elderberry syrup (we have an easy recipe below), you can even pour some over your pancakes and waffles to get a daily dose.
Elderberry Syrup for Colds
Drinking elderberry syrup is often touted as a natural alternative to conventional medicines, especially as a treatment for colds and the flu. One study found that supplementing with elderberry syrup helped reduce upper respiratory symptoms.
DIY Elderberry Syrup Recipe
This recipe from Wellness Mama is a must-try. (She has a recipe for elderberry gummies, too.) With the exception of elderberries, which you can buy online or in health food stores, the rest of the ingredients are pantry staples you probably already have on hand.
3 ½ cups filtered water
⅔ cup dried black elderberries
2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
1 teaspoon Thrive Market Organic Ground Cinnamon
½ teaspoon Thrive Market Organic Ground Cloves
1 cup Thrive Market Organic Raw Unstrained Honey
Add water to a medium saucepan along with elderberries, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the liquid has reduced by half; let cool. Pour syrup through a strainer into a glass jar. Once the syrup is room temperature, add the honey and stir well. Store in the refrigerator and take a spoonful daily or as needed.
Once you’ve successfully made your own elderberry syrup or picked up a jar from your favorite brand, we’ve got a fun way to serve it up. When you’re feeling under the weather, you can take it straight or try this fermented drink made with apple cider vinegar.
Top Rated Elderberry Products
Stock your medicine cabinet with these top rated elderberry products from Thrive Market.
Only one ingredient is inside this bottle: organic elderberry juice powder. This supplement delivers antioxidants to help you feel good and may help keep seasonal symptoms at bay.
Keep this pack of lozenges handy anytime you’re feeling a little under the weather. Each dose offers vitamins A, C, and E, plus synergistic herbs to help soothe your throat.
Help kiddos bounce back from the common cold with a formula that relies on the power of elderberry syrup. It’s made without preservatives and high-fructose corn syrup, too.
Formulated with elderberry and zinc, plus an extra 103 milligrams of vitamin C, these lozenges have naturally occurring flavonoids and can help soothe a sore throat.
Drink your way to better health with this box of echinacea tea infused with elderberries. The tea is sweet with mild bitter notes, and goes perfectly with a squirt of honey.