A classic herbal remedy for cold & flu season
This elderberry immunity tonic (i.e. elderberry syrup) is my go-to herbal remedy during cold & flu season. In most cases of the common cold or flu, the best thing you can do for yourself is rest, drink plenty of liquids, and supplement with herbal remedies that naturally support your immune system.
My elderberry immunity tonic contains a variety of herbs that are high in immune boosting compounds. Research has shown, for example, that elderberries have antiviral and antimicrobial properties, and are one of the most widely used medicinal plants in the world (Source).
How do elderberries boost immunity?
Elderberries help to fight off viral attack by blocking the sites of viral attachment to your body's cells, and are especially effective when combined with other immune boosting herbs like Reishi mushroom, astragalus, and ginger.
Other than providing multiple health benefits, this elderberry immunity tonic, thanks to the addition of raw honey, is quite tasty. It’s sweet but not overly so and can be taken on its own or added to foods like oatmeal, pancakes, waffles, or desserts (yum!).
The potential side effects of elderberries
It’s important to note that while elderberries boast many health benefits, the elderberry plant contains cyanogenic glycosides, a toxic compound which may induce nausea or vomiting when eaten raw.
Thankfully cyanogenic glycosides are broken down and destroyed by heat, so make sure you consume only cooked elderberries and keep any branches, bark, or leaves out of your preparation.
Highlighting key ingredients
The ingredients in this tonic have a wonderful synergistic effect, helping to not only boost immunity, but also improve blood flow and circulation, modulate your stress response, and support your lungs and heart.
- Elderberries contain immunostimulant properties that help boost immune function. This herb has shown to significantly reduce symptoms and the duration of a cold or flu, especially when taken at the onset of illness or when symptoms first appear (Source). High in vitamins A, B, and C, and anthocyanins, a type of antioxidant that give elderberries their distinct deep blue color, elderberries may be helpful in reducing inflammation as well as oxidative stress.
- Astragalus is a traditional Chinese herb that revives a weak immune system, and helps to prevent infection. Astragalus is best used for warming up cold and damp states - conditions that are more conducive to infection from viruses.
- Reishi is a medicinal mushroom that contains beta-glucans (polysaccharides), which works to boost your body’s immune response.
- Medicinal mushrooms, especially reishi and cordyceps, have a specific affinity for the lungs by improving oxygen utilization and boosting lung cell function.
- Ginger boosts blood flow and circulation, improves digestion, fights infections, and relieves nausea.
5) Raw Honey
- Raw honey soothes inflamed tissues and organs. Using local honey may also help with allergies.
The Benefits of Making your Own Immunity Tonic
I used to buy elderberry syrup but quickly realized just how costly it became. Since becoming a Clinical Herbalist, I’ve learned that I can just as easily create it at home...for a lot less!
Although my method of preparing the elderberry immunity tonic takes a fair amount of time, the good news is that you can multitask while it’s simmering on the stove.
Not to mention - once you’re done, you’ll have enough of this immune boosting tonic to get you through cold & flu season, and possibly all year round!
This especially holds true when honey and a quality alcohol like brandy or vodka are added to extend its shelf life.
Simply put, making a large batch of your own elderberry immunity tonic is well worth the time spent so you can keep yourself and your loved ones healthy throughout the year!
Have you tried making elderberry syrup before? How was the experience for you?
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