It is not often that you can find good research on ‘natural remedies,’ but a study published in 2001 focused on Black Elderberry extract, specifically the Sambucol brand of elderberry syrup, and it’s affect on viruses such as the flu. In the study, Sambucol was shown to be effective in vitro against 10 strains of influenza virus, and shortened the duration of the flu by 3-4 days. In addition to it’s antiviral properties, Sambucol activated the healthy immune system by increasing inflammatory cytokine production, and significantly increasing TNF- alpha production.
I have used Sambucol black elderberry syrup successfully over the last year and a half since a doctor at my workplace told us about it. I take it as part of my personal natural protocol for warding off colds and flus. I find that most of the time, taking it when I first start feeling the symptoms, like lethargy, scratchy throat, etc. then my body is able to fend off the viral invaders and I don’t get sick. That’s the key I think – to take it when you first start noticing the symptoms. Taking it after the symptoms start may shorten the duration of the illness, but you still end up dealing with it for awhile, and nobody likes a cold or flu even for a short time!
Recently, a client who had great results with the elderberry syrup decided to make her own, since it’s not cheap at about $13 for 8 doses at our local pharmacy. She had been using it for several months when I spoke with her, and had not gotten sick at all in that time. I have since used it myself with as much success as using the Sambucol brand, so though it’s not the studied formula, it seems to work well. I’ve checked out several recipes on various websites, but the one below is what I made. It tastes great, too! You can purchase dried organic elderberries on Amazon.com and make a big batch of syrup for a fraction of the cost at the drug stores.
If you’ve tried black elderberry syrup, let us know what you think of it by commenting below!
To your health,
Homemade Elderberry Syrup
12 cups of water
4-6 cinnamon sticks
1/2 – 1 Tb whole cloves
2 cups local organic raw honey
Pour water into a medium saucepan and add elderberries, cinnamon and cloves. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for 45 minutes to an hour until the liquid has reduced by almost half. At that point, remove from heat and let cool enough to be handled. Pour through a strainer into a large mixing bowl. Press the berries to extract as much liquid as possible from them.
Discard the elderberries, cloves, and cinnamon sticks. Add honey to the liquid and mix well.
Store in the fridge (for up to 90 days) and take a tablespoon daily for its immune boosting properties (kids take 1 tsp). If you start feeling like a cold or flu is coming on, take the dose every 3 hours instead of once daily, until the symptoms are gone.