We read blog after blog claiming things like elderberry syrup, fire cider, and some type of tonic all help to reduce cold and flu symptoms. I myself live Elderberry and Astragalus syrup. My favorite misconception, however, is that echinacea is a preventative to catching the common cold and flu. while in reality, clinical studies have been shown that echinacea does not, at all, prevent anything. However, it is a great herb once you get sick, and helps lessen the symptoms and length of the cold or flu. Just make sure you don’t take it if you have a ragweed allergy, because you’ll make yourself ten times worse.
So what happens when you spend hundreds of dollars in all of these herbs and then, they don’t work? Well, I’ll tell you what—your husband looks at you and bans you from ordering herbs off the internet for the next 6 months.
I kid…kind of.
As I study Master Herbalism, I find more and more that approaching health from a scientific herbal standpoint really makes a huge difference. For years, I’ve used the same Elderberry syrup recipe, and most years it worked, however, I saw some variances and I could never figure out why. This came from a lack of education on my part. I think about it now and I cringe at the advice I was giving others, but we live and learn. The reality is that my syrup was effective some times and not other times because I wasn’t measuring my herbs by weight. But it was also because I wasn’t using these herbs to their fullest potential.
Recently, I discovered I could make my elderberry syrup much more amazing with preventative benefits. My goodness, what a difference it has made in our family. The combination of elderberries and astragalus root have maximized our ability to prevent viral issues and the common cold. These herbs have also helped us boost our immunity, as a preventative, when we are in situations where we need it. This looks a lot like taking this syrup before going to school, before going on a play date, to an amusement park, or even the grocery store. We all know that Elderberries have major health benefits, including immunity boosting and reducing the duration of colds and flu.
Elderberry and Astragalus Syrup
100 g dried black elderberries
20 g dried astragalus root
15 g dried ginger root (or powder)
8 g dried clove (whole)
1 quart distilled water (or previously boiled water)
½ cup organic sugar (or evaporated cane juice)
1 cup raw honey
- In a large sauce pan, add elderberries, astragalus, ginger, clove, and water. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring frequently. Cook down this mixture on medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture has reduced by half. This can take 20 to 30 minutes.
- Remove from heat and strain your liquid into a bowl or container (glass). Measure your liquid, which will be about 1.5 to 2 cups, most likely.
- Place your liquid back into a sauce pan with your sugar and honey. Bring your mixture back to a boil, stirring frequently to ensure proper mixing, and boil for 10 minutes, or until your desired consistency. We enjoy a thick honey like syrup, but you can make it as thin or as thick as you’d like. Consistency is not key.
- Funnel your syrup into glass bottles once cooled a bit, and cap tightly. Preserving them in the refrigerator promotes shelf life and ensures less bacterial contamination. However, they can be stored in your pantry or medicine cabinet as well.
- Make this recipe in smaller batches if only using for one or two family members. Double or triple the batch if making for larger families.
Raw Honey Note: When using raw honey in syrups, you’re not always using raw honey for its medicinal properties, as those are destroyed during the boiling process. You are using honey as a means to deliver the herbal medicine, as a natural sweetener. Raw honey doesn’t have to be used—you can use organic processed honey, but we always have raw honey on hand on our homestead.
Wait and add the raw honey after the mixture begins to cool to maintain its medicinal properties if you’d like to, however, you’ll most likely need to indefinitely store the syrup in the fridge to ensure a longer shelf life. © Amy K. Fewell | The Homesteader’s Herbal Companion
Elderberry and Astragalus resources:
Gray AM, Abdel-Wahab YH, Flatt PR. The traditional plant treatment, Sambucus nigra(elder), exhibits insulin-like and insulin-releasing actions in vitro. J Nutr. 2000;130(1):15-20.
Kong F. Pilot clinical study on a proprietary elderberry extract: efficacy in addressing influenza symptoms. Online Journal of Pharmacology and Pharmacokinetics. 2009;5:32-43.
Roschek B, Fink RC, McMichael MD, et al. Elderberry flavonoids bind to and prevent H1N1 infection in vitro. Phytochemistry. 2009;70:1255-61.Roxas M, Jurenka J. Colds and influenza: a review of diagnosis and conventional, botanical, and nutritional considerations. Altern Med Rev. 2007 Mar;12(1):25-48. Review.Ulbricht C, Basch E, Cheung L, et al. An evidence-based systematic review of elderberry and elderflower(Sambucus nigra) by the Natural Standard Research Collaboration. J Diet Suppl. 2014;11(1):80-120.
Shao BM, Xu W, Dai H, et al. A study on the immune receptors for polysaccharides from the roots of Astragalus membranaceus, a Chinese medicinal herb. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2004;320(4):1103-1111.
2017 Flu Shot only 10% effective — https://www.cbsnews.com/news/this-years-flu-vaccine-may-only-be-10-effective-experts-warn/