Elderberry – the Natural Cold & Flu Fighter

Did you know studies have shown Elderberry can significantly reduce symptoms colds and flu as well as shorting the duration of the flu by 2-3 days?! (If you’re on the nerdy side like me, you might be interested in these two studies Study 1 & Study 2, but there is much more information out there on the internet.)

Multiple studies show Elderberry stimulates the immune system by boosting the production of Cytokines, which in most cases is wonderful, especially for those dealing with the cold or flu. In other cases, such as those with autoimmune disease, a boosted immune system could be detrimental.

An important warning to those with Autoimmune Diseases: Those of us with autoimmune illnesses such as Multiple Sclerosis, Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE), Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), Psoriasis or Psoriatic Arthritis (PsA) like me, know that stimulation of the immune system can actually make our symptoms worse.  Also, it should be noted,  if you are taking medication to decrease your immune system, Elderberry may decrease the effectiveness of the medication.

If that’s you, do your own research and speak to your medical provider before consuming Elderberry or anything made with it – homemade or store bought.

For those of you that don’t have any autoimmune issues, let me continue to extoll the benefits of Elderberry!!

Elderberry is a nutritional powerhouse, high in vitamins A, B & C and also in Potassium.  it has antiviral and anti-inflammatory qualities. It appears to have the ability to slow down some strains of influenza viruses and there is even research that indicates it may be useful in the fight against cancer!

There are three types of elderberries found in the US: Blue Elderberry (Sambucus nigra ssp. cerulean) which is common in the western U.S. and is native to North America, Black Elderberry (Sambucus nigra) which is common in the eastern U.S. and is native to Europe, and finally, Red Elderberry (Sambucus racemosa) which is considered toxic.

The difference between the blue and the black elderberry is the blue one develops a whitish powdery bloom when they are ripe, similar to blueberries. They are best after a hard frost, making them softer and sweeter. They make for tasty jams/jelly, medicinal syrups, and wine.

WARNING: Elderberries contain enough cyanide to cause stomach discomfort; it’s very important that you boil them before consuming!

This fall, we gathered Elderberries and I’d forgotten all about them until one of the medicinal Facebook groups I belonged to suggested I make a batch of Elderberry Syrup to ease the symptoms of the illness that had hit Misty Meadows right before Christmas.

It made the house smell like the holidays while it simmered on the stove and it tasted amazing!  Best of all, we used some Misty Meadows Honey to sweeten it – so those nasty flu bugs were on the run!

We are so impressed with its performance, we’ve decided to share our “secret” recipe with you!

Elderberry Syrup

  • Servings: 2.5 Cups/1 Pint
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A nutritional powerhouse that can ease cold and flu symptoms.

Credit: http://www.facebook.com/MistyMeadowsHomestead

IMPORTANT: **DO NOT give honey to babies under 1 year. Substitute cane sugar/syrup or maple syrup insteawd of honey. **Those with AUTOIMMUNE DISEASES should AVOID elderberry. Elderberry may stimulate the immune system, and/or interfere with medications taken to suppress the immune system.


  • 1/2 Cup Elderberries (fresh, frozen or dried)
  • 3 Cups Water
  • Cinnamon, Stick or Powder (optional and to taste)
  • Cloves, Whole or Powder (optional and to taste)
  • Ginger, Fresh or Powder (optional and to taste)
  • Star Anise (optional and to taste)
  • 1 cup of local, raw honey (Cane Sugar or Mapel Syrup can be substituted)


  1. Add water and berries to a pot.  Bring to a boil and reduce heat.  If you decide to use the spices (cinnamon, cloves, ginger and/or anise) now is the time to add them.
  2. Simmer until the liquid reduces by half (30-45min).
  3. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
  4. Strain the liquid and discard the spices and remaining berries.
  5. When liquid is room temperature, add honey or sweetener, stirring until dissolved.
  6. – Refrigerate for up to 2 months.  Shake well before use.

Elderberries fresh from the Freeze-drier. They sounded like a bowl full of Rice Krispies!

There are several ways to preserve Elderberry for later use, other than making syrup, jams or jellies. You can dry them in a dehydrator, freeze them or you can freeze-dry them.  Frozen & dried food have a limited shelf-life of 6mo-5 years.  Freeze-dried foods last 10-30 years depending on what it is.  We invested in a freeze-dryer and it’s one of the best investments we have made.

For those of you who don’t have the time, desire or ability to acquire fresh Elderberry, we have created a  DIYHerbal Elderberry Syrup Kit   – you just add water and honey!
*It’s available in our Etsy Shop and ON SALE through January 2018*
This is our second batch – the first sold out quickly, so don’t wait to make your order.

Are you already familiar with Elderberries? If so, what is your favorite way to use them? Leave us  a comment below – we’d love to hear from you!

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We enjoyed sharing so much that this post has been shared to the Homestead Blog Hop and this one too!

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(Disclaimer: I am not a Physician nor am I Certified Herbalist. The information provided on this site has not been evaluated by the FDA and is not intended to diagnose, treat or prevent conditions, illnesses or diseases, it is purely anecdotal and stem from my own personal fascination with the natural world around me. I use the following for my research: Peterson Field Guides – Western Medicinal Plants and Herbs, The Complete Medicinal Herbal by Penelope Ody, books and videos by Rosemary Gladstar and Susun Weed, as well as various internet posts. I encourage you to do your own research. Before trying any herbal remedy, consult a physician or certified medical professional to make sure it is safe for you to use.) 

Content and Photos by Misty Meadows Homestead and S.Lago © All Rights Reserved



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