Elder is probably the most well-known antiviral herb on the market at present. It can assist in reducing inflammation in the sinuses to relieve congestion, eliminate metabolic waste products, stimulate sweating to remediate fevers, and reduce flu and cold symptoms. Elderberries contain shikimic acid, an antiviral compound that is used to create Tamiflu.
The Truth About Elderberries:
While the anti-inflammatory and elimination effects of tannins, vitamin A, cyanogenic glycoside, viburnic and shikimic acids, and other health giving alkaloids in elderberries can withstand heating and drying, the Vitamin C complex and flavonoids can not. Heat and drying, whether it is stove top heat, or drying with air, stove, microwave (for the love of all things holy, please never use a microwave to dry herbs or for any other reason), dehydrators, or any other heat source will degrade to destroy the flavonoids in plants. Bioflavonoids are capable of increasing bodily health by supporting strong immune function and cell formation, destroy the cancer causing free radicals in the body that corrupt cellular information, and are antiviral to name just a few of their actions in the body. The most commonly found information on the “interwebs” says to use dried elderberries, make a tea, and then make a syrup from the tea. Boom! Drying and heating. You’ve immediately lost a very important component of elderberries’ super powers! Some websites even go as far as to advise the use plain sugar instead of honey in making the syrup. Sugar decreases immune activity for several hours upon ingestion. Honey contains its own antibacterial properties. Please be very skeptical of herbal information given out there, and read all blogs with a grain of salt. Do your research before making herbal medicine.
In order to retain the immune supporting and antiviral vitamin C complex and flavonoids, it’s best to prepare elderberries fresh. Remember that the stems, seeds, and leaves of elder contain cyanins and must be removed. In order to easily separate the elderberries from the rest of the plant material, freeze the harvest overnight. Garble the berries from the stems while they are still frozen. Once the berries thaw out, it becomes difficult, time consuming, and messy to remove the stems. Now, take your berries, put them in a bowl, and gently squish the berries to break open the skins, making sure to not break open the cyanin containing seeds. Fill a pint jar 3/4s of the way up the jar with all your fresh squished berries. Fill half the jar with either brandy or apple cider vinegar, then top off with honey. Brandy and honey make an elixir, apple cider vinegar and honey make an oxymel. Tightly cover the jar with a plastic lid, or with a piece of parchment paper between the metal lid and the vinegar if making an oxymel, and put it on a dish as there may be some leakage. Be sure to put a label on it so you know what you made! Let steep for a month and strain. A half to a whole teaspoon in a cup of warm water several times a day is all that is needed to provide relief. As it takes a month to steep, you might want to get on this right away! You, your family, and your friends will be very happy when you provide them with herbal medicine that works well!
For reducing inflammation and fevers, and eliminating metabolic waste, the elder *FLOWERS* of the blue (not red) elder can used. To make a great-tasting and effective elder syrup, put 2 cups of water in a saucepan. Add 1 cup of dried blue elderflowers. Bring to a boil, turn it down to a medium simmer, and let this simmer until half of the liquid is gone. The resulting brew is called a decoction. Strain the elder from the decoction, rinse out your pan, and return the strained decoction to the pan. Add twice the amount of honey to the decoction, heat until the honey is thoroughly incorporated into the decoction, and jar it up. You now have elderflower syrup that can be taken by the teaspoon straight, added to teas, warm water, drizzled over yogurt, ice cream, oatmeal, and more. Kids over 2 years of age love this syrup, and it will keep all winter in the fridge. I know the latest info is that babes over 1 year can ingest honey, but I’m not buying the hype. Keep in mind that the flavonoids in the flowers will be destroyed.
There you have it. Keep believing in herbal medicine and be healthy!