There’s a lot I want to accomplish in my future. One of the things I want to learn is more about herbs and take herbalist courses. In the meantime, I’ve been trying to learn what I can from Dr. Tieraona Low Dog and Mountain Rose Herbs, and one thing I’ve learned to make is homemade elderberry syrup.
A couple years ago, I started making homemade elderberry syrup, mostly out of a “why not?” kind of urge. Outside of trusting Dr. Low Dog and her years of expertise, it felt like something I could do to gain some control of my health and immune system in a time of a lot of unknowns (I think I made my first batch just after COVID lockdowns hit in 2020).
However, it’s more than just a nice little syrup to make. A 2004 study that analyzed 60 patients suffering from flu-like symptoms for 2 days or less were given either elderberry or a placebo syrup for 5 days (4 times each day) – those who took the elderberry syrup had symptom relief on average 4 days earlier and also didn’t use “rescue mediations” like analgesics and nasal sprays as often. Another study from 2001 found in vitro evidence of increased inflammatory cytokine production, which can indicate that it is stimulating the immune system to fight harder, as the researchers say “activat[ing] the healthy immune system.”
Newer research found no benefit to elderberry extract with influenza patients compared to oseltamivir, an antiviral flu medication. With minimal studies being conducted on elderberry and elderberry syrup, it will be hard to say what the true benefit is until more research is done.
While I would never do something like skip my annual flu shot and keep myself safe and healthy in many other ways, I also don’t think there’s any harm in taking elderberry syrup before more research comes in. If you’d like to give it a try, you can see the full recipe and instructions on Mountain Rose Herbs’ website, plus lots of helpful tidbits. I will also post the ingredients I used and some tips for how I get my elderberry syrup the way I want it.
Homemade Elderberry Syrup Ingredients
Get all organic ingredients if you can
- 2 cups dried elderberries
- 4 cups cold water (I use the filtered water from my fridge)
- 3 tsp dried ginger root
- 2 sweet cinnamon sticks
- 1 cup maple syrup
- 1 cup vodka
Notes on Making the Syrup
First, don’t skip the cheesecloth. It is very important to get you the filtered syrup result you want. However, if you are impatient like me, you will have a hard time waiting for everything to filter through the cheesecloth and the funnel.
I would say get a larger funnel if you can (mine is pretty small) and use your hands to squeeze if you are impatient like me. Use gloves if you don’t want your hands to stain. I honestly don’t do this, but you can if you are worried about staining your hands for a couple days. The funnel Mountain Rose Herbs has on their website looks a lot nicer than mine (and no, I don’t get paid to say that).
I take about 2 tsp every day that I think to take it. This lasts a really long time in the fridge if you add vodka or another alcohol (Dr. Low Dog also recommends brandy), so the portion on the website will probably last you several months, depending on who’s all taking it. If you’re in the “can’t hurt” camp, give it a try! I’ll hopefully be able to update this more with additional research in the years to come.