With a change of season comes the common cold. Even for us Los Angeles folk who are currently having a heat wave, the season is still commencing. The days are shorter, the leaves are falling off the tree's and for the rest of you the air is getting cooler. As nature prepares for winter, so should we. It is a time to boost our immunity, switch our diets and look to the earth for support. Immunity being the most important, there are many ways to strengthen and encourage our bodies to be ready for cold & flu season. There is a great list of things one can do, but today I am going to talk about the Elderberry plant; known for its immune boosting compounds.
It is no coincidence that elderberries become ripe when summer is turing into fall. This powerful dark pigmented berries are rich in bioactive phto-nutrients: Vitamin A, C and quercitin, an antioxidant, which have anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties. At this time herbalists are harvesting, drying and preparing them for brews of teas and syrups. This cold and flu fighting remedy goes back to Celtic times, with many beliefs that the Elder tree was a protector. The berry has made a serious comeback in wellness and it's not surprising, because it works. Elderberry syrup can be used to strength the immune system, helping keep those nasty winter viruses at bay. If you happen to be so unlucky and catch something, the syrup can help your system recover quickly. These berries contain vitamins A, B and C which we all know are extremely important to fight off infection.
Here is a little science:
Dr. Madeleine Mumcuoglu, of Hadassah-Hebrew University in Israel found that elderberry disarms the enzyme viruses use to penetrate healthy cells in the lining of the nose and throat. Taken before infection, it prevents infection. Taken after infection, it prevents spread of the virus through the respiratory tract. In a clinical trial, 20% of study subjects reported significant improvement within 24 hours, 70% by 48 hours, and 90% claimed complete cure in three days. In contrast, subjects receiving the placebo required 6 days to recover.
So now that I have you believing in the berry, let's discuss how to take it and make it. Sure, you can go buy it at your local health food store but where is the fun in that! It really is easy to make, just order a bag of dried elderberries here or if you can harvest them yourself, even better!! Then follow the below instructions:
1 cup dried elderberries
4 cups of water
raw honey ( omit if avoiding sugar)
Combine the water and elderberries in a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until the volume has reduced by half (usually about 45 min). Remove from heat. Mash berries into the liquid and pour through a cheesecloth-lined strainer. Lift the corners of cheesecloth and squeeze the rest of the juice out.
Measure the amount of liquid and add equal parts honey, stir until dissolved. IMPORTANT: The temperature of the berry juice should be warm not hot; in order to keep the honey raw for its vital enzymes and healing properties, hot water turns honey toxic.
For less sugar you can reduce the amounts of honey but note this will make more of a medicinal tea then a syrup. Pour into a sterilized jar and refrigerate.
ELDERBERRY SYRUP WITH WARMING HERBS:
Same as above
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 lrg cinnamon stick broken up
1/4 tsp dried clove buds
2 slice fresh lemon
Add all ingredients with the elderberries and water, prepare exactly the same way. This is excellent when treating an active cold or flu. Other herbs you can try are Echinacea, Rose Hips, Adaptogens, Astragalus, Wild Cherry Bark etc...
Take on a daily basis which can prevent common cold.
Preventative: Adult - 1 tbsp per day / Child 6+ - 1 tsp per day / Child under 6- 1/2 tsp per day
At first signs of illness take same dose as above but every 2-3 waking hours until symptoms resolve.