Black elderberries grow commonly in the wild in many parts of the world, and they are inexpensive to order online as well. I got my dried elderberries from Mountain Rose Herbs to add to our diet to boost our immune systems this winter. I made the dried elderberries into homemade elderberry syrup, added a tablespoon of dried berries to applesauce I was making in the crockpot, and I add some to tea sometimes.
In the Gut and Psychology Syndrome book (available at the GAPS Store on my Resources Page) Dr Natasha Campbell-McBride talks about the immunity boosting properties of Elderberries:
Medicinal properties of this plant have been appreciated for centuries. Its flowers, berries, leaves, and bark were traditionally used for treating colds, pneumonia, flu, sore throat… and many other ailments. Black Elderberry has got strong immune-stimulating properties and it is one of the most powerful anti-viral remedies known to man. You do not have to be an experienced herbalist to use this plant.
Dr Campbell-McBride goes on to recommend juicing the berries with the daily juicing on the GAPS protocol (she recommends 1 teaspoon of fresh berries juiced per person per day), we don’t always do daily juicing so I’ve been finding other ways to get elderberries into our diets.
Elderberry syrup is easily poured onto pancakes, mixed with hot water as tea, or stirred into yogurt. The syrup recipe is easily added to based on flavors you prefer, and adaptable to the ingredients you have on hand. In fact, the only mandatory ingredients in the syrup are elderberries and water! The other ingredients serve purposes of flavoring (vanilla), antiviral (cinnamon, ginger, and cloves), vitamin C (rose hips), and sweetening (honey) so they’re helpful, but not necessary in the homemade elderberry syrup.
Homemade Elderberry Syrup Recipe
1 cup dried elderberries (or 2 cups fresh) ~ available at Mountain Rose Herbs
2 tablespoons rose hips
2 cinnamon sticks
1 teaspoon dried ginger or one inch peeled fresh ginger
1/4 vanilla bean
4 cups water
2 cups honey
Homemade Elderberry Syrup Directions:
Over medium-low heat simmer the elderberries, rose hips, cinnamon sticks, cloves, ginger, vanilla bean and water. Simmer for 20-30 minutes, or until liquid is thick and syrupy and reduced by half. While the mixture is still warm (or the elderberries will absorb all of your syrup!) strain the syrup through a sieve. Combine with honey and store in an airtight container (I use a mason jar) in the refrigerator.
1-2 teaspoons a day is recommended to help prevent illness. Honey is not recommended for children under 1 year of age, due to the very small risk of botulism.
Adding Dried Elderberries to Applesauce
I made my apple sauce in the crockpot, which can be further reduced to make apple butter if desired. To make elderberry applesauce, simply core and slice 8-12 apples, place in the crockpot with 1/2 cup of water. Add 1 tablespoon dried elderberries. Cover, and cook on low overnight. Add honey if needed to sweeten and blend the entire pot with an immersion blender to puree the skins and berries into the applesauce. Enjoy warm or cool! The berries do at a slight berry flavor to the apple sauce, and the tiny seeds are just barely noticeable. Our family enjoys this version of apple sauce!
About Immunity Boosting Herbs
I believe herbs and other natural remedies, like cinnamon and honey for colds, can be very helpful for supporting our immune system, and promoting a healthy body. But, I don’t want to overlook the fact that in order for our body, including our immune system, to work properly we need to make sure we’re feeding it nourishing health building foods such as good quality food; egg yolks from pastured hens, cream and butter and meat from grassfed animals, wild healthy seafood, fresh vegetables and fruits, properly prepared whole grains for those who eat grains, etc.
Without these basic building blocks to work with, the resulting malnourished body will constantly be run down and difficult to keep healthy through the cold and flu season! But when that foundation is in place, herbal and other natural remedies can be a wonderful addition to our medicine cabinet.
If you’re interested in natural remedies, highly recommend picking up a copy of Herbal Nurturing, I’ve tried two remedies so far, it’s fun to put together great tasting, healthy, and nourishing remedies for your family, and the children enjoy learning about how God’s creation works for healing as well.
Other home remedies I use and have had success with:
- Honey and cinnamon as a cold remedy
- Ginger tea for sore throats
- Dandelion root tea for fat digestion and liver health
- Epsom salts for detoxification
- DLPA to quit coffee
- Oil Pulling for oral hygiene
- Garlic Olive Oil for Ear Aches