An Immune Powerhouse: Elderberry Syrup

Now that school is in session and those community germs are in full gear, it’s time to talk immunity. We had our first fever this week and thankfully it was mild and gone in one day. Our go-to form of prevention? Homemade elderberry syrup. In fact, my kids started taking elderberry syrup on the first day of school and we will most likely continue until all signs of spreading sickness is gone.

Here’s why we love elderberry syrup so much:

  1. Elderberries boost the immune system and have anti-viral effects on the flu and other respiratory illness. (1)

  2. If the flu hits, symptoms can be gone days before other treatments when taking elderberry syrup. (2)

  3. Elderberry syrup can lessen the amount of time you are sick with a cold. (3)

  4. It tastes good and is super easy to make (or purchase!).

So yes, elderberries have the research to back up their amazing fight against the cold and flu virus. The suggested amount to take is 1 tbsp/day for prevention (1 tsp/day for kids) and on the onset of illness, take 1 tbsp 3-4 times per day (1tsp, 3-4 times a day for kids). I personally like to make my own, it’s much more cost effective than buying it. But if you want to purchase it, it’s most likely available at any health foods store and at Whole Foods. If you’re local to Charleston, check out Island Kombucha, Sara Gail makes the best!


If you’re ready to make it on your own, here’s the simple recipe:


  • 1 cup organic elderberries

  • 4 cups water

  • 1 cinnamon stick

  • 1 chunk fresh ginger, peeled

  • 1/2 tsp clove powder

  • 1/2-1 cup raw, local honey


  1. Bring the elderberries, water, cinnamon, ginger and cloves to a boil. *I leave out the cloves because my kids don’t like the taste*

  2. Lower heat and simmer for 45min-1hour

  3. Strain the liquid into a clear glass bowl. Use a spoon to mash the elderberries and get all the liquid out.

  4. Once the liquid has cooled to room temperature, add the honey and whisk in. *most recipes call for 1 cup honey, I prefer 1/2 cup.

  5. Pour into a glass bottle or mason jar and keep refrigerated.

Of course, elderberry syrup isn’t the only thing you can do to prevent illness. For more of a holistic approach check out last year’s post on eating well during the flu season. Here’s to your health this season!


(1). Barak V. The effect of Sambucol, a black elderberry-based, natural product, on the production of human cytokines: inflammatory cytokines. Our Cytokine New. 2001 Apr-June; 12(2):290-6.

(2). Zakay-Rones Z. Randomized study of the efficacy and safety of oral elderberry extract in the treatment of influenza A and B virus infections. J Int Med Res. 2004 Mar-Apr;32(2):132-140.

(3). Tiralongo E. Elderberry supplementation reduces cold duration and symptoms in air-travelers: a randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. Nutrients. 2016 Apr; 8(4):182.