With flu and cold viruses circulating everywhere, it is helpful to know how to keep your family’s immune system strong. As an herbalist, I’m often asked what herbs and supplements I use for my family. I love using elderberry to boost the immune system. I always keep a stock of elderberry tincture at home to have on hand the moment anyone in my family starts to feel unwell.
Elderberry (Sambucus nigra) is the bluish-black or red berry of the “elder” bush as shown in the picture. Historically, elderberry has been used for making jelly or wine. Elderberry tincture or syrup is a staple when flu season hits. It is the go-to herb as a remedy for viral infections like the flu and common cold. In my experience, when taken at the first sign of an infection, elderberry will prevent the illness from worsening and taken at any time will reduce the length of time you suffer with a cold or flu.
What The Experts Say
As Stephen Harrod Buhner states in his book, Herbal Antivirals: Natural Remedies for Emerging and Resistant Viral Infections, “The plants are also very high in flavonoids that have been found to bind to H1N1 virions, inactivating them. Once the viruses are bound, they can’t infect host cells. Elder flavonoids have a very strong affinity for influenza viruses, somewhat like a magnet and iron filings.”
Easy Peasy Elderberry Tincture
Making an Elderberry tincture is so easy too. I always have a quart in process, just in case, and my husband and I take a spoonful every morning. I have always used fresh elderberries grown on my bushes near my home, but if you don’t have access to fresh berries, you can order dried elderberries online. Recently, city workers in my town chopped my bushes down because they had gotten big enough to hang over into the easement of the alley and I was quite devastated, but I’ve found that dried or fresh, this tincture works very well.
Into a clean Quart Jar add 1/4 pound dried elderberries (must be Sambucus nigra).
Fill to top with vodka. (You can also use apple cider vinegar if you would prefer, but I use vodka).
Put the lid on tight and store in a dark cupboard and shake once every few days. Label and date your jar.
Let the jar sit for at least 30 days then strain out the berries and store your tincture in a dark place.
If you want to let it sit longer than 30 days that will only make it stronger and better. I often let my jars sit for up to 3 months.
Take as a preventative – Adult – 1 teaspoon in water once a day.