Since I am spending today sick with a cold I thought I’d share with you my recipe for Elderberry syrup; a must for cold and flu relief.

1 cup elderberries (I made this at summer’s end so used fresh elderberries, but you could use dried elderberries if you add a bit more water)
1 1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar (or substitute honey)
Simmer for about an hour with a lid on to prevent evaporation.
Strain the mixture to remove seeds. This can be done a number of ways, I used a food mill, like the kind you would use for applesauce. This has a blade that circles around forcing small particles through pores in the bottom while keeping seeds and skins above.
Pour juice into a pint jar, add 1 tablespoon lemon juice and one ounce of vodka. Put the lid on the syrup and refrigerate until needed.

This syrup is a very delicious way to enjoy the benefits of elderberries. It can be used as a cough syrup or throat soother. Elderberry has been used by many people for some time to treat colds and flu. Medical research has documented that elderberry (Sambucus) will decrease the duration and severity of the flu (J Int Med Res. 2004 Mar-Apr;32(2):132-40). Elderberry will both stimulate the human immune system and inhibit neuraminidase, an enzyme used by the influenza virus to enter and infect human cells. These actions combined put it high on my list of herbs to have on hand for winter health.

Another thing I do when I feel a cold coming on is use my product “Thyma-flu”. This is a combination of elderberries, thyme, echinacea, peppermint and horehound. I make this as a dried preparation so that you can add your own alcohol to it; vodka, brandy or rum. After setting for 2 weeks so that the herbs infuse into the alcohol I take 1-2 teaspoons of the alcohol 2-3 times a day at the first sign of a cold or flu. If taken soon enough, this will often stop a cold or flu before it gets a hold. You can purchase this mixture on my website at: It is great to have on hand before you need it.

A food mill is a must have tool for an herbalist and one wanting to learn to be self sufficient.