The black elderberry has been considered a medicinal plant throughout history, but only recently scientists have begun to formally study its benefits and efficacy.
Recent studies show that it can ward off or at the very least shorten the duration of symptoms of cold and flu.
What is black elderberry?
The black elderberry, also known as Sambucus Nigra, is a short tree native to North America and most of Europe. It produces clusters of small, black, round berries on its purple stalks.
How is black elderberry beneficial to us?
Elderberries contain huge amounts of flavonoids, Vitamin C and Vitamin E.
Flavonoids aid and support the immune system, increase antioxidants helping prevent damage to the body’s cells and are also thought to inhibit viral activity.
Vitamin C and E also help the body to maintain a strong immune system.
These factors not only help avoid or treat a cold or flu, but can have important longer term health benefits as they reduce inflammation and can reduce the risk of chronic illness and cancers.
Preparation of elderberries:
Containing cyanide compounds, this berry should never be eaten unless fully ripened and cooked. Care should be taken to remove all of the stalks completely before using the berries as these contain higher levels of Cyanogenic Glycoside.
Whenever our family starts to get run down or there are viruses making their way around school, I like to make up a batch of elderberry syrup.
The kids love it and take a teaspoon of it each day (adults can take 1 tablespoon), to give their immune system a bit of a boost.
On the rare occasion that we do end up with the flu, we up the dose to 1 teaspoon (for children) or 1 tablespoon (for adults) every 3-4 hours until the symptoms ease.
Combined with raw honey for its amazing health benefits and other cold busting ingredients, elderberry syrup is a delicious and effective remedy.
Give the recipe a try and let me know how it goes!
3 1/2 cups of water
2/3 cup dried black elderberries
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves
2 tablespoons fresh ginger
1 cup raw honey
1- Put the dried elderberries, ginger, cloves and cinnamon into a heavy based pan with the water.
2- Bring the water to the boil, then reduce the heat to simmer.
3- Simmer for approximately an hour.
4- Enjoy the pungent aroma…
5- Turn off the heat and press the ingredients with the back of a spoon or other suitable implement (I like to use a spurtle… not sure why!)
6- Strain off the berries and other solid ingredients, making sure to press as much of the juices out as possible.
7- Allow the (now deep purple-black) water to cool a bit.
8- Add the raw honey. (If raw honey is heated too much it will lose its antibacterial and antifungal properties)
Once fully cooled, the syrup can be transferred into bottles and kept in the fridge for up to 3 weeks.
A few warnings to bear in mind…
- process the berries carefully as discussed earlier
- ingestion is not advised for pregnant or breastfeeding women
- ingestion is not advised for people with autoimmune diseases
- do not give honey (raw or processed) to children under the age of 1 year due to risk of botulism
If you don’t have time to cook up a syrup?
Elderberry tea is a speedy way to benefit from elderberry’s fabulous healing properties! Just allow 1/4 cup of dried elderberries to steep in a cup of boiled water, strain and add honey to taste.