Elderberries for Colds and Flu

If you’ve tried a lot of different cold and flu remedies, elderberry is one of the ingredients that you’ve probably come across. This herbal remedy has a long history of being used for medicinal purposes and is very anti-inflammatory. Elderberries contain more flavonoids than blueberries, cranberries, and goji berries. This is one of the reasons why they are considered an immune-boosting powerhouse.

According to research, elderberries are a good choice for treating colds and flu. So much so that they can potentially help decrease symptoms in just a couple of days. Two studies confirmed that elderberries could halve the average length of a flu bout and start to tackle symptoms in 48 hours. This is more likely if elderberry extract or syrup is taken within 48 hours of flu symptoms coming on.

A 2016 study looking at colds picked up during air travel found that elderberry extract can cut the length of a cold and make symptoms less severe. There was one catch, elderberry was taken for up to 10 days before getting on a plane and for up to 5 days after arriving at the destination. Elderberry didn’t stop a cold from occurring, but it did reduce the length of time it lasted. For most people, their cold was 2 days shorter, and symptoms were milder.

Pre-made elderberry syrups are readily available, but you could try making your own totally natural version for a lot less. Dried elderberries are perfect for this as they have a pretty good shelf life. You can grab a handful when a cold or flu strikes and whip up a batch of syrup.

Team dried elderberries with ginger, cinnamon, and cloves for a super effective immunity-boosting syrup. Simmer the ingredients in water for an hour, mash up the elderberries, strain out the liquid, and leave to cool. Once it’s at room temperature, stir in some raw honey. It will last for a couple of months in the refrigerator.

You can order dried elderberries online or use fresh ones if you are lucky enough to have an elderberry shrub. Here is a simple recipe that you can adapt by adding in your own goodies like ginger, turmeric, cinnamon stick, echinacea root, etc.

Elderberry Syrup


  • 3 cups cold water
  • 1 cup organic dried elderberries
  • your additions of choice, 1 tsp cinnamon or a stick, 5 whole cloves, 1-inch fresh ginger root, 1-inch fresh turmeric root, 1/4 cup of echinacea root


  • Bring all the ingredients to a boil and simmer UNCOVERED for 45-60 minutes until the liquid has been halved
  • Allow to cool and then strain – throw the used elderberries in the trash
  • Add 3/4 to 1 cup of raw, local honey depending on how sweet you like it
  • 4 oz. brandy (optional)

Keep refrigerated and watch for changes in smell, taste, or consistency. It will last longer with the brandy, but it is not necessary.

NOTE: you may have heard about CV19, the cytokine storm, and the worries about Elderberry syrup creating a storm. The herbalist I trust and learn from are not worried about this happening, but if you are, use your elderberry syrup as a preventative measure and if you think you have CV19, simply stop using the syrup.

Also, DO NOT EAT RAW ELDERBERRIES – they must be cooked to break down the cyanide-inducing glycoside, which is toxic. This is another reason why you simmer the berries UNCOVERED, to allow the glycoside to burn off.

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