The use of elderberries for their medicinal benefits dates back thousands of years. In the Middle Ages, the elderberry was considered a Holy Tree because of its ability to improve longevity and health. There is even evidence that it might have been cultivated by prehistoric man, and recipes have been found for making natural medications out of elderberry dating back to ancient Egyptian times. The “father of medicine,” Hippocrates, described it as his “medicine chest.”
Elderberries come from the fruit of the flowering plant known as Sambucus, better known as the elder or elderflower. They’re primarily found in the Northern hemisphere, particularly in Europe and North America, although some southern species are grown in Australia. The berries are black or very dark blue, and have a sharp, sweet flavor that makes them popular for desserts, syrups, jams, and even as a base for a variety of cocktails and wine.
Elderberries pack an extremely nutritious punch, with minerals like iron, potassium, phosphorous, and copper, as well as vitamins, such as vitamin A, vitamin B, and vitamin C, proteins, and dietary fiber. The berries also contain an exceptionally high amount of the polyphenol anthocyanin, which give them their dark color. Anthocyanin’s antioxidant ability allows elderberries to survive during periods of intense UV light radiation from the sun, and those same antioxidants are passed on to those who consume it, providing a multitude of health benefits, including these.
7 Reasons To Have A Tbsp Of Elderberry Syrup Daily
1. Strengthening the immune system
Arguably the most commonly known benefit of elderberry syrup is strengthening the immune system and preventing the flu or a cold, or relieving those symptoms, thanks to those chemical compounds known as anthocyanins, as previously mentioned, which are known to offer immunostimulant effects.
Studies have linked anthocyanins with significantly increased immune coordination. They’ve been found to boost the production of immune cytokines, which are key messengers in the immune system that help to regulate the immune response which allows the body to fight against disease.
Common flu symptoms like fever, chills, sore throat, muscle aches and fatigue may go away faster if you take elderberry syrup. Research conducted out of the Department of Virology at Jerusalem, Israel’s Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School, demonstrated the ability of elderberries to improve flu-like symptoms by examining 60 participants who were suffering from the flu. Those that received an elderberry extract over a five-day period experienced relief of symptoms four days sooner than those who received a placebo.
Elderberry syrup also helps to make a cold or other upper respiratory symptoms more tolerable by reducing mucous secretions. They help to battle swelling of the respiratory passages, which means less discomfort or trouble breathing, as well as helping to soothe a cough.
2. Sinus infection relief
If you’ve ever had one, you know how miserably painful it can be to suffer from a sinus infection – a condition in which the cavities around the nasal passages become inflamed. But thanks to the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of elderberry syrup, it can help with sinus problems too.
Research conducted in 2006 out of the Institute of Complementary Medicine’s Department of Internal Medicine at the University Hospital in Zurich, Switzerland used a solution containing elderberry flowers to treat bacterial sinusitis, along with a decongestant and an antibiotic. Participants who took the elderberry concoction did significantly better than those who did not.
3. Promoting better circulation and providing heart support
According to a 2000 study from Jean Mayer Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, published in Free Radical Biology and Medicine, elderberry anthocyanins have the ability to protect the inner layer of blood vessels from oxidative stress. The researchers therefore concluded that elderberry “conferred significant protective effect against oxidative insult.” This is important because the more protected the blood vessels are against oxidative stress, the stronger their integrity and structure, which helps to improve circulation throughout the body, this in turn, also lessens the risk of stroke and heart disease.
4. Supporting strong bones
Elderberry’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties are not only known to alleviate joint pain and soreness caused by inflammation, the berries help to promote stronger bones and the development of new bone tissue to lower the risk of osteoporosis. This devastating condition that can lead to fractured bones and severe disability is estimated to affect some 200 million women around the world, and is likely to affect millions more in the future. Increasing bone density while you’re young can help delay the onset of the disease considerably.
5. Managing glucose levels in diabetics
According to the American Diabetes Association, an astounding 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with diabetes. While research is ongoing to help manage this growing epidemic, there is some good news thanks to elderberry, which is just one of many herbal treatments that have been studied thus far for managing glucose levels. Research has confirmed that elderflower extracts were able to stimulate glucose metabolism as well as the secretion of insulin to lower blood sugar levels.
Research from the School of Biomedical Sciences, University of Ulster, in Coleraine, Northern Ireland published in the Journal of Nutrition in 2004, looked into the insulin-like and insulin-releasing actions of elderberry in vitro, and discovered that it was able to dramatically increase glucose transport, glucose oxidation and glycogenesis without added insulin. Glycogenesis is necessary for helping to clear out excess sugar from the bloodstream to help maintain normal blood sugar levels.
6. A natural diuretic
If you’re taking medications that increase urination, experts advise to use elderberry with caution, because of its potential diuretic effects. However, for some, this can be a good thing, as one common problem for older adults is retaining too much fluid. Elderberries have been shown to promote urination as well as bowel movements.
7. Cancer prevention
The anthocyanins in elderberries have been found to offer a wide range of therapeutic, pharmacologic and anti-carcinogenic properties, including the ability to battle cancer. The high content of antioxidants in elderberry help to prevent the formation of cancerous cells to inhibit the onset of the disease.
How To Make Your Own Elderberry Syrup
This delicious syrup is easy to make and loaded with therapeutic properties.
- 1 cup dried organic elderberries (available to buy here)
- 3 ½ cups water
- 1 cup raw honey (available to buy here)
- Medium saucepan
- Pint-sized mason jar with lid (such as these)
- Gather all ingredients and the equipment.
- Place elderberries and water into the medium saucepan.
- Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 45 minutes to an hour until liquid has reduced by almost half.
- Remove from heat and cool.
- Mash the elderberries with a spoon or a masher.
- Pour the syrup through a strainer in the glass jar.
- When the liquid is not longer hot, add 1 cup honey. Stir well.
- Store in the refrigerator. This syrup should be taken daily to boost your immune system.
- Take ½ tbsp to 1 tbsp for adults and ½ tsp to 1 tsp for children. If you do come down with a cold or the flu, take the normal dose every 2 – 3 hours until your symptoms disappear.