secret: i never take medicine.

October 8, 2013

elderberry syrup Well, sometimes I do. But not usually. I don’t know why, really. Stubbornness, probably. An overblown belief in willpower, definitely. But even if I can be reluctant to pop Tylenol for a headache, I’m a big proponent of embracing natural remedies. Medicine of my own making.

Last week, I brewed a big batch of elderberry syrup to get me through flu season. I’ve sworn by the immunity-boosting concoction for the past three winters and this year, I made more than ever. Germs, you don’t stand a chance. I’ve got spoonfuls of sweet, elderberry goodness to keep the doctor away all season long. Not to knock my own Fire Cider recipe, but elderberry syrup laps that spicy concoction in the flavor department. No need to hold your nose while downing this stuff. If you’re like me, you’ll have to stop yourself from drizzling the whole bottle onto a sundae. Mmmm.

If you’d like to make your own, the full recipe is on Gardenista.

And as always, I’m curious. What are you favorite immunity-boosters during flu season? Any fellow elderberry devotees out there?

UPDATE: A quick note on an old post, in case anyone’s browsing the archives. In light of several emails that I’ve received, I want to be clear that in additional to being interested in herbalism and herbal remedies I’m also a proponent of modern medicine, vaccines, and all other advancements designed to protect public health! I just don’t go running for the cough syrup at first throat tickle.

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  • Reply Hannah Richmond DeCamp October 8, 2013 at 3:00 pm

    I just quickly recovered from a cold, and I'm crediting the elderberry extract I started taking halfway through it. The one I've been taking has no sugar added, so it's not quite as tasty, but it's not terrible either. I need to try your recipe, though! It sounds delicious.

  • Reply J and H from Beyond The Stoop October 8, 2013 at 3:09 pm

    regular exercise, lots of fresh air and natural light, and a diet of full of fruits and greens! i'm no doctor, but I know that I stay healthier than my counterparts who don't open their windows, who pop those pills, and who eat packaged foods and take-out…. I worked away from home in boston for the majority of this year, where I worked dawn til dark, ate out every meal, and lived in a basement apartment where I never opened the windows. I was depressed, gaining weight, and regularly got sick…. I can't scientifically tell you WHY I got sick, I just know that now that i'm back on track to a healthy lifestyle, i'm also not getting sick….

  • Reply skyesthelimit53 October 8, 2013 at 3:18 pm

    For colds and flu, Traditional Medicinals Cold Care PM tea with a shot of rum! Yum!

  • Reply Marygrace Taylor October 8, 2013 at 3:57 pm

    I keep it REALLY simple. Healthy food, lots of liquids, at least 8 hours of sleep, and long walks outside every single day. I don't remember the last time I got sick.

  • Reply Daryl October 8, 2013 at 4:18 pm

    Does this really work? It's possible I may become obsessed with this.

    <3 Daryl | Unlost

  • Reply Tradlands October 8, 2013 at 4:18 pm

    Yes I'm glad I found this recipe. We usually take a brand from Whole Foods but can't wait to make my own. And I'm excited about that Fire Cider recipe.
    My husband loves elderberry for colds and flu. He was actually the only one out of my family that did not get sick recently. He credits it to eating plant-based, too.

  • Reply Niki October 8, 2013 at 5:01 pm

    Sounds yummy. xx

    dreaming is believing

  • Reply picklesandchapstick October 8, 2013 at 5:31 pm

    Maybe I've been living under a rock but I never heard of this! I will have to give it a try. Mine is pretty simple eat healthy, drink lots of fluids, wash your hands, go outside, keep common touched items as germ free as possible, etc. kinda boring but it works!


  • Reply Anonymous October 8, 2013 at 5:36 pm

    I infuse some sage in honey and put a big spoonful in a cup of green tea….whether it's the placebo effect or not, who cares, it works everytime!

  • Reply jacquelyn | lark&linen October 8, 2013 at 6:16 pm

    I couldn't agree more. The only time I take a tylenol is when I legitimately have no choice but to power through. Otherwise I prefer to not ignore my bodies signs that something might be wrong. I rely heavily on oil of oregano when I'm feeling icky. I'm going to have to try your elderberry syrup!

  • Reply Sylvia Linsteadt October 8, 2013 at 6:17 pm

    Oh yes indeed! Made my first batch ever of an elderberry and elderflower elixir (in brandy and honey) this year, and it is so good it tastes like candy to me, and that deep joy of having gathered the berries and flowers is powerful as well. Used this recipe from the wondrous Kiva Rose: Your syrup looks delightful too- and I am sure I would want to eat it all at once too! That's one benefit of a tincture. πŸ™‚

  • Reply Georgie October 8, 2013 at 6:53 pm

    Ha! Never heard of elderberry syrup. I make rosehip syrup which does a similar thing – it's got ridiculously high levels of vitamin c, and it sounds so pretty! Not to mention it's delicious. Great in a hot toddy too…xox

  • Reply Amie McCracken October 8, 2013 at 9:18 pm

    I'm not big on medicine either. My body can get over a cold on it's own. It was built for it. But this elderberry syrup I'm intrigued by. Will have to check it out.

  • Reply Linn October 8, 2013 at 9:20 pm

    Never tried elderberries for this purpose. I eat and drink ridiculous amounts of ginger during the flu season, and try to add lemon and turmeric to everything I possibly can. Don't know if it's helps, but it tastes good πŸ™‚

  • Reply Chelsea October 8, 2013 at 10:20 pm

    If you haven't yet, you MUST try Thieves Oil from Young Living. It's a recipe that dates back to the Black Plague (it was used by thieves to rob the bodies of plague victims, the recipe kept them from getting sick!). Despite its seedy history, this stuff works!!

  • Reply Drake Collins October 9, 2013 at 12:38 am

    I've never tried the elderberry syrup, but a number of my friends started making it last year and I may give it a try… I always have Echinacea root in the house, and for sore throats I keep a mix of Marshmallow root, Mullein Leaves, and Licorice Root. I also make Slippery Elm lozenges to have on hand for the same purpose.

  • Reply Julia Barger October 9, 2013 at 3:04 pm

    My husband refuses to take medicine as well! He feels like he can "will" the sickness away. Maybe I will make him some of this to help him. πŸ™‚

  • Reply emily @ cabin fervor October 9, 2013 at 4:26 pm

    I used to have a great immune system and rarely got sick (crediting regular exercise and healthy eating for that)… then I had a baby who covers me daily in her daycare germs, not to mention messes with my sleep and exercise habits. I've been sick so much the past two years and just missed work yesterday because of something she passed onto me. I also shy away from taking medicine, but I'm willing to try almost anything at this point — especially on the preventive side. Sign me up to try this too!

  • Reply valcancook October 9, 2013 at 6:41 pm

    I usually buy elderberry syrup from my local health food store and I keep a stock of it around during cold/flu season. I recently started taking a probiotic supplement to help with my weak immune system.

  • Reply Inge October 9, 2013 at 7:06 pm

    I love the taste of elderberry, but didn't know it had immune boosting properties too. Good news!
    The only thing I do (besides exercise and eating healthy) is take some extra zinc when I feel a cold coming up. It works very well for me.

  • Reply Annie Elie October 10, 2013 at 5:13 am

    This sounds amazing! I definitely plan on trying it out. πŸ™‚
    I recently caught strep throat (thanks, little brother) and felt really silly about going to the doctor…

    After some research, I found that the following concoction did wonders:
    pure raw honey
    garlic clove
    cayenne pepper
    I mixed it with hot water so it was easier to drink and it. was. amazing. I did everything I could and was healed within a week! I will say that I also took a reishi mix supplement (immunity) and gargled with hydrogen peroxide then hot water & celtic sea salt to help the throat and rid the aftertaste from the h2o2.

    It make take some extra effort in some ways but I'd recommend doing this to anybody who wants to save a dime with a open mind.

  • Reply Briar October 11, 2013 at 1:35 am

    I love elderberries! I've made various infusions myself over the years, with various spirits, local honey and herbs (astralagus, echinacea etc.), and this year I'm also trying a bottle of elderberry elixir that came in my Portland Apothecary Community Supported Herbalism share. It's hard to argue with their additions of brandy and asian pear!

  • Reply dervla @ The Curator October 11, 2013 at 8:52 pm

    ugh I've got strep throat in my household at the moment and am guzzling echinacea so it doesn't make it to me. My key to everything is a good walk in fresh air, or barring that, at least opening the window wide and drawing in some "fresh" air from the Manhattan night. Gotta try elderberry though.

  • Reply abby October 13, 2013 at 9:18 pm

    goldenseal and oregon grape root are my go-to remedies if I feel something might be coming on. They are so powerful! I have to admit, in all my years of natural remedy taking and making I have never even tried elderberry syrup?? Might need to get on that this year.

  • Reply kratom November 14, 2013 at 10:25 am

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  • Reply Reishi Mushroom Powder October 24, 2014 at 3:22 am

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