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Making Elderberry Syrup at Home

Health Benefits of Elderbery also known as Sambucus nigra have been around since 400 B.C. The plant and flower and berry have been used for things such as cold and flu, constipation and pain-relief. Elderberry is rich in antioxidants, Vitamin C and is an anti-inflammatory. In my home, we use IT as A cold/flu and allergy remedy and for any symptoms with trouble breathing. During COVID-19, we have used it as part of my children’s and even my prevention regiment. I would like to encourage people to make it at home as constant use is needed sometimes. It can be cost prohibitive to continue buying bottles.

Here is the recipe I use:

Making Elderberry syrup at home for my kids and even me is important as it will help reduce the time it takes to recover from symptoms of the cold and flu. You don’t have to identify whether you have a virus or bacterial infection. Elderberry is helpful in both cases. Also, during seasonal allergies, the added vitamin C in elderberry can tonify the airways and reduce symptoms of sneezing and cough.

Based on the franklin Health Research foundation Recipe

Safe and effective Elderberry Syrup Recipe

100 g dried elderberries 1-2 quarts cold distilled water* 1 1/2 cup thick, liquid sweetener such as brown rice syrup or honey

Combine the berries and water in a large (cold) saucepot. If time permits, allow the berries to soak until they are soft, about 30 – 60 minutes. Place over medium heat and gradually bring to a boil. Once a rolling boil has been reached, reduce heat to a simmer and continue to cook for 30-45 minutes, stirring frequently. Do not cover the pot during this phase. This process cannot be shortened as it is crucial for eliminating the cyanide-like toxin in the seeds. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.

Strain the concentrated extract and measure the liquid. It should be approximately 2 cups.* (If you have less than 2 cups, water can be added to reach 2 cups. If you have more than two cups, continue boiling the mixture down. It is crucial to have a 2-cup measurement at this state to ensure accurate dosing.) Combine with the cup and a half of honey, brown rice syrup, glycerin or simple sugar solution. Bring back to a boil and continue to boil for 10-30 minutes until the mixture is thick. Allow to cool slightly and pour into prepared bottles. Store in the refrigerator.

*Note: The previous version of this formula called for 1 quart of water to produce 2 cups of extract. Depending on altitude, humidity and other factors, that may not be enough to cook for the required duration without burning the berries. Adjust the initial water measurement as needed to ensure that the final result is 2 cups of extract per 100g berries after having been cooked for 30-45 minutes and thoroughly strained.

Dosage: The average dose used in studies to treat viral infections is 15ml of a syrup with 38% elderberry, 4x a day for adults and the same amount at a 19% concentration for children. For active infections, an adult could take a full dose every 2-3 waking hours for up to 2-4 days. For prevention, such frequency is neither necessary nor recommended. General dosing is 1/35 of the formula 2-3 times a day for an adult. Children will need smaller doses, which are determined by age and weight.

In the study conducted in early 2019, the total effect size for flu symptoms was 2.074. This means that roughly 98% of people who take elderberry for the flu will improve faster than the average person with the flu who does not take elderberry. Similarly, 41% of people who take elderberry for the common cold will improve faster than the average person who does not take elderberry.

While the total body of research is rather small, the effect size of elderberry is substantial. Given the overall safety of the supplement, it provides a useful approach to these winter viruses.

  1. Zakay-Rones, Z., Varsano, N., Zlotnik, M., Manor, O., Regev, L., Schlesinger, M., & Mumcuoglu, M. (1995). Inhibition of several strains of influenza virus in vitro and reduction of symptoms by an elderberry extract (Sambucus nigra L.) during an outbreak of influenza B Panama. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 1(4), 361-369. doi: 10.1089/acm.1995.1.361

  2. Zakay-Rones, Z., Thom, E., Wollan, T., & Wadstein, J. (2004). Randomized study of the efficacy and safety of oral elderberry extract in the treatment of influenza A and B virus infections. Journal of International Medical Research, 32(2), 132-140.

  3. Tiralongo, E., Wee, S. S., & Lea, R. A. (2016). Elderberry supplementation reduces cold duration and symptoms in air-travellers: A randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. Nutrients, 8(4), 182. doi:

  4. Kong, F. K. (2009). Pilot clinical study on a proprietary elderberry extract: efficacy in addressing influenza symptoms. Online Journal of Pharmacology and Pharmacokinetics, 5, 32-43.

  5. Hawkins, J., Baker, C., Cherry, L., & Dunne, E. (2019). Black elderberry (Sambucus nigra) supplementation effectively treats upper respiratory symptoms: A meta-analysis of randomized, controlled clinical trials. Complementary therapies in medicine, 42, 361-365.

  6. Vlachojannis, J. E., Cameron, M., & Chrubasik, S. (2010). A systematic review on the sambuci fructus effect and efficacy profiles. Phytotherapy Research: An International Journal Devoted to Pharmacological and Toxicological Evaluation of Natural Product Derivatives, 24(1), 1-8. doi: 10.1002/ptr.2729

  7. Senica, M., Stampar, F., Veberic, R., & Mikulic‐Petkovsek, M. (2017). The higher the better? Differences in phenolics and cyanogenic glycosides in Sambucus nigra leaves, flowers and berries from different altitudes. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, 97(8), 2623-2632. doi: 10.1002/jsfa.8085

  8. Centers for Disease Control (CDC. (1984). Poisoning from elderberry juice–California. MMWR. Morbidity and mortality weekly report, 33(13), 173.

  9. Knudsen, B. F., & Kaack, K. V. (2013, June). A review of human health and disease claims for elderberry (sambucus nigra) fruit. In I International Symposium on Elderberry 1061 (pp. 121-131). doi: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2015.1061.12

  10. Pogorzelski, E. (1982). Formation of cyanide as a product of decomposition of cyanogenic glucosides in the treatment of elderberry fruit (Sambucus nigra). Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, 33(5), 496-498.

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