“Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries!”
My first introduction to elderberries was many years ago while watching the movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail. I honestly have no idea what that insult means…and that’s what makes it hilarious!
Used as Cold/Flu Remedy for Centuries
All kidding aside, elderberries (sambucus nigra) are actually powerful healing berries that have been used for centuries! Seriously, they are first mentioned as a healer in writings from the 5th century BC and are referenced by Hippocrates, Dioscurides, and Plinius. (1) Anything that has been healing folks for that long is sure to pique my interest!
Now, Modern Science is Catching Up
Lately, modern science has been confirming what many people have known all along! (Let me nerd out here for a second since I worked in clinical research for several years before Brynlee was born!)
In a randomized trial in Norway, patients were given either elderberry syrup or placebo when they had the flu. The results were quite impressive! Patients given the elderberry syrup improved an average of 4 days sooner than patients given placebo. (2) Granted, this was a small study and further research is needed to prove elderberries are effective at curing the flu, but scientific evidence is mounting…
Israeli medicine called Sambucol, which is derived from elderberries, has also proved quite effective against the flu as well!
Within 24 hours, 20% of those patients taking Sambucol had dramatic improvements in symptoms like fever, muscle aches and pains and coughing. By the second day, 73% were improved and by day three, 90%. In the untreated group, only 16% felt better after two days. The majority of that group took almost a week to begin feeling better. (3)
Actually, If you don’t have time (or energy if you have the flu) to make your own elderberry syrup, You can buy Sambucol here.
The Power of the Elderberry
While we aren’t completely sure why elderberries work to cure the flu and other viral infections, we do know that elderberries contain all kinds of good things. They…
- are very high in vitamin A
- have more vitamin C than oranges
- contain anthocyanins (molecules that boost the immune system)
- are very high in quercitin (an antioxidant)
- are anti-inflammatory
- possess antiviral properties that have been shown to treat colds and flu
A Note on the Alternative Flu Medicine (Tamiflu)
Back in 2008, the FDA started reviewing reports of abnormal behavior and disturbing brain effects in more than 1,800 children who had taken Tamiflu. The symptoms included convulsions, delirium and delusions. In Japan, five deaths were reported in children under 16 as a result of such neurological or psychiatric problems. Seven adult deaths have also been attributed to Tamiflu, due to its neuropsychiatric effect.
According to a 2009 study, more than half of children taking Tamiflu experience side effects such as nausea and nightmares. Other more rare and bizarre side effects have also been reported, such as the case of a 19-year old British girl who developed toxic epidermal necrolysis and blindness after taking Tamiflu last year. –Mercola.com (4)
Elderberry Syrup Recipe
2/3 cup Dried Elderberries (where to buy Elderberries)
3 1/2 cups of Water
1 teaspoon Ground Ginger OR 2 tablespoons fresh ginger root, chopped (where to buy Ginger)
1 cup Raw Honey (where to buy Raw Honey if you can’t find it locally)
- In a small sauce pan, stir together all ingredients except honey.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for about 45 minutes until half of the liquid has evaporated.
- Gently mash the elderberries with a spoon to extract all of their goodness.
- Pour the syrup through a strainer and into a glass jar.
- Let the liquid cool until it is luke warm and then stir in the honey.
- Seal the jar with a lid and refrigerate.
Kids: 1/2 teaspoon to 1 teaspoon
Adults: 1/2 tablespoon to 1 tablespoon
If the flu does strike, take the normal dose every 2-3 hours instead of once a day until symptoms disappear.
How Long Does it Last?
This should last a couple of weeks in the fridge. It also freezes quite well so consider making a double batch and freezing half! That way you are ready if the flu strikes and you are suddenly and unexpectedly too exhausted to make this!
How do you fight off colds and flu? Share below!