Is Black Elderberry The Best Antiviral Herb We Know?

No one ever likes to get the flu. I’m a baby about the nausea which accompanies it, and after having hyperemesis in all four of my pregnancies, and figuring that I’ve spent the better part of two years in bed with morning sickness, I will do whatever it takes to avoid it again.  Enter Elderberries!

800px-Sambucus-berriesI loved them as a kid, when here in Sanpete County, Utah, we gathered as a big extended family every year to harvest them and made syrup with them.

Sparkling bottles of it covered the counters and tabletops ready to go downstairs for storage.  It was made even better when we got pancakes the next morning!  Elderberry syrup was my absolute favorite!Screen-shot-2014-09-03-at-9.44.09-PM

Who knew that I would rediscover this little black berry again, during the cold and flu season?

Most of us, when we start getting sick, make a beeline to the Doctors office, and wonder why we even got the flu?  Didn’t we get our flu shot?  Hmm…

We’re hanging over our knees in the waiting room in all our sickened glory,  for a prescription of the latest, greatest flu fighter, which is not as great as we’ve been told.   (For myself, I’ve chosen not to get a flu shot, because of the ingredients, and of course, the fact that I always get the flu, every time, just a week or two after my shot.  No thanks.)  So the question becomes, “Tamiflu, Elderberry, or ride it out?

Let’s begin with side effects of Tamiflu.  They are severe enough that it’s been banned in Japan after the death of 18 youths associated with it.  Another 10,000 reported unusual behavior,  some as severe as attempted suicide. At it’s best, one of the most common side effects of it is nausea and vomiting.  Um…isn’t that what I’m here for?

  • At the beginning of the year, Dr. David Jockers, wrote an article for Natural News on elderberries, he said, “With a cold, flu or any other virus, drugs only have the ability to mask or treat symptoms, but they cannot eliminate the virus itself. Only the immune system can do that.” 

Our bodies are built to mount up a defense, and do a great job of it, if they have been given the proper building blocks to do it.   Adding Elderberry gives our immune system a giant boost. It’s high in in vitamin A, contains a greater amount of Vitamin C than an orange.

It has high amounts of Quercetin, an antioxidant “used for treating conditions of the heart and blood vessels,  including hardening of the arteries, high cholesterol, heart disease, and circulation problems.

It is also used for diabetes, cataracts, hay fever, peptic ulcer, schizophrenia, inflammation, asthma, gout, viral infections, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), preventing cancer, and for treating chronic infections of the prostate.

Quercetin is also used to increase endurance and improve athletic performance.”

It is also an anti-inflammatory.  And it only gets better with research.

  • The 2001 study published in the U.S. National Library of Medicine stated that elderberry extracts are “natural remedies with antiviral properties, especially against different strains of influenza virus.”
  • Another 2004 study published in the NLM commented on reduced duration of flu symptoms when using elderberry: “Symptoms were relieved on average four days earlier and use of rescue medication was significantly less in those receiving elderberry extract compared with placebo.”
  • University of Maryland Medial Center writes “Elderberry may have anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and anticancer properties” and “one study suggested that elderberry could kill the H1N1 virus.”
  • Clinical trials on patients displaying full-blown flu symptoms took place in Israel in the middle of a flu epidemic in 1992-93. Half were given the Sambucol black elderberry extract and half a placebo.  Within 48 hours 75% of patients who had been given Sambucol had clearly improved and within 72 hours 90% were symptom-free. Only 16% of patients on placebos had shown any improvement after two days, and the rest took at least six days to recover.

When I start to feel a twinge of a cold or flu, I head for the, always open, elderberry syrup and make a cup of steaming hot tea.  Some people prefer to just take a tablespoon.  It’s really good on pancakes too…I’m just sayin’….

Elderberry Syrup

  • 2/3 cup dried elderberries
  • 3 1/2 cups of water
  • 2 T ginger (Optional)
  • 1 t cinnamon powder (Optional)
  • 1/2 tsp cloves (Optional)
  • 1 cup raw honey

Add the elderberries to the water, and bring to a boil.  Gently simmer for about 30 minutes, or until it is as thick as you would like it.  Then add the spices (if desired), simmer for 10 more minutes.  Finally add the entire pan to the honey, bottle and  store.

  • It can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.

For canning:

  • Sterilize four 8 oz. jars, keep hot.
  • Heat lids and rings in hot water, keep warm but not boiling.
  • Fill water bath canner and bring to boil.
  • Pour hot syrup into sterilized jars leaving 1/4″ headspace.
  • Wipe rims clean and screw on lids.
  • Process for 10 minutes in water bath canner (add 1 minute for every 1,000 feet above sea level).

Yield: About 4 pints syrup 







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