Natural remedies for coughs & colds: Elderberry Syrup

Winter is here with a vengeance and that brings on coughs and colds so today I am sharing a natural treatment to help boost your immune system, Homemade Elderberry Syrup. The last few weeks have felt incredibly long as first Stephen and then Irini came down with terrible colds followed by ear infections. However, while the weeks were long, they also left me feeling incredibly proud as it is their first illness that I felt comfortable treating holistically and by myself, rather than running down to our family doctor and asking for antibiotics. Before you call child services, I was closely monitoring them, and I would have taken them to the doctor if I thought things were becoming more serious than a bad cold. But since it seemed like nothing more than a cold, even if it was a bad one, I felt confident that I could treat it without relying on strong medicines that could further upset their young immune systems.

To treat their colds, I relied on a combination of homeopathic remedies to treat the individual symptoms (such as fever and ear ache) and herbal treatments to boost the immune system so the kids' bodies could fight off the infections themselves. I've already given the recipes for my homemade Vick's Vapor Rub and cough lollies (make sure you supervise children with these carefully) and later in the week I will post the recipe for the ear oil I used to treat the ear infection, but today I'm going to share the elderberry syrup I used. I made this syrup a couple of months ago in preparation for cold and flu season, but this is the first chance I have had to use it. I find it quite tasty, but surprisingly, the kids did not. However, it disappeared quite easily into a berry based juice which they happily drank.

Homemade Elderberry Syrup

This recipe is loosely based on Rosemary Gladstar's from her book Family Herbal.

1/2 cup dried black elderberries

1/4 cup dried rosehips

2 tablespoons dried echinacea

1 cinnamon stick

3 cups filtered water

1 cup local honey

  1. Combine the elderberries, rosehips, echinacea, cinnamon and water in a medium saucepan; bring to the boil, and then simmer for 30 minutes.

  2. Strain and combine liquid with the honey.

  3. Bottle in sterilised canning bottles (the ones with the rubber gaskets) leaving half inch of headspace and process in a Vacola hot water bath for 1 hour. Store in a cool, dark place for up to a year.

  4. Alternatively, bottle in sterilised bottles and store in fridge for up to 2 months.

  5. During a cold, take 2 teaspoons 3 times a day for children 3-12, and a tablespoon 3 times a day for adults. You can also take 1 teaspoon (child)/2 teaspoons (adult) daily for general immune boosting.
For my next batch, I won't process it, and will use raw honey instead to get the extra benefits from that.

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Disclaimer: remember that I am not a trained medical practitioner, and this is given as information only, so please seek professional advice in the case of illness.

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