Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Anti-Flu Recipe: Elderberry Syrup

Do you wonder why my family doesn’t get the flu? Here’s my secret recipe.

Mainstream medical professionals all agree that the flu shot is safe for pregnancy women. While I was pregnant with my second baby in 2009-2010, it was during the swine flu scare and I had chosen not to get the flu shot. My caregiver tried all sorts of things: “You won the giveaway, it is free!” “No thank you”. It is always questionable as to how much the flu shot works and I personally didn't feel right about injecting mercury (Thimerosal, found in some flu vaccines) and formaldehyde into my bloodstream that would then go to my baby.

So how is it that I have three germ carrying kids and have not had the flu in 9 years? Well 9 years ago, I was going through a transitional time and I was eating so much processed foods. This was just a year after I had been living in Africa, eating mostly unprocessed foods, and was exposed to plenty of Vitamin D daily. Now my body for the first time in several years found itself with an unhealthy diet, lack of vitamin D, and exposure to new germs. I got the flu. It lasted a week and I did not yet have sick time accumulated from my new job so I was working.

Nowadays this is what my family does to increase our immune system. 
  1. We eat whole unprocessed foods including dark leafy greens (we love broccoli and kale!) and healthy fats (raw olive oil, coconut oil, butter) daily.
  2. During the winter months we all take lemon-flavored cod liver oil (ideally fermented) to ensure that we have enough vitamin D. My husband and I both have tested low for vitamin D in the winter and this is a major immune system supporting vitamin so we give it to everyone even the one year old.
  3. This year I discovered astragalus root for colds and we are anxious to really try it when a cold comes our way. The Chinese have been using this root as an immune booster for centuries! I found it at an Asian market in the dried root form but it can also be bought in pills or liquid form. I am automatically adding it to our bone broths to boost our immune systems.
  4. Also during the winter months (or when the kids go to summer camp and are exposed to all sorts of viruses) we take a little elderberry syrup (also known as Sambucus nigra) daily. It has been used for centuries in Europe to treat the cold and flu. Elderberries have proven to have preventative properties for the flu, can short-circuit the duration if taken at the first signs of the flu, and is more effective than Tamiflu. I make it since it is so easy and inexpensive. I buy the ingredients from Mountain Rose Herbs, Vitacost ($10 off if you click here first), Frontier. You can also buy it at any natural store and some drug stores. Here’s my recipe:

credit: Mountain Rose Herbs
Elderberry Syrup Recipe
Adapted from Mountain Rose Herbs

1/2 cup dried elderberries (or 1 c fresh berries)
1/4 C dried rosehips
2 1/2 cups water
1 T grated fresh ginger
5 cloves
1 whole cinnamon stick
1 cup raw honey

Put all ingredients but honey in a pot, cover and bring to a boil. Simmer uncovered 20 to 30 minutes until liquid reduced by half. Strain into a bowl. Add honey, pour into a glass jar. Refrigerate, will keep 2-3 months. Take 1tsp daily as a preventative, or 1tsp per hour for flu or virus. Use half the amount for children 60-75 lbs and 1/4 the amount for children under 30lbs. 
***DO NOT eat elderberries that have not been cooked***

My herbalist friend learned from her teacher to use this recipe but with ¼ cup berries. After the liquid has reduced by half she lets it sit for 17 hours before moving on with the recipe. The dosage is the same.

Always check with your caregiver and/or research to find out what is best for you and your family. There is no one-size fits all to health!

12/28/2013- Edited the second paragraph to correct that Ethylene glycol is not contained in the flu vaccine but rather Formaldehyde is.


  1. We like to make gummy candies from the elderberry syrup with grassfed beef gelatin. Immunity boosting protein snack! The elder flowers are also wonderful medicine.

  2. "injecting mercury (Thimerosal) and anti-freeze (Ethylene glycol) into my bloodstream that would then go to my baby"

    I really enjoy this blog as an older newly pregnant woman. I appreciate the information. I work in the scientific community and try to base my decisions to remove toxins on the available research. I am very careful about what I eat and put in and on my body. I believe everyone is entitled to opinions and I know this is probably not the blog to be pro-vaccines. But the info you provided on flu vaccine is not accurate and a bit misleading - which I am sure is not your intent. Women who are trying to make educated decisions in this arena need to have accurate information. Many flu vaccines DO NOT contain thimerosal (ask for a pre-filled syringe vs a multi dose vial where a very small amount of thimerosal is used as a preservative) The recommendation is for all pregnant women to receive thimerosal free flu vaccines as well as children under 3 years. I have never heard of a obgyn office not using preservative free flu vaccine. In addition, most flu vaccines are NOT live - you cannot catch the flu from them (another common bit of misinformation out there) and they do not contain anti-freeze. Some flu vaccines may contain 2-phenoxyethanol, which is an organic chemical compound, but it is not the same as antifreeze. I am not saying yes or no on flu vaccines for yourself or your child after 6 months - but at least lets work together to ensure our decisions are made with accurate information. Again thank you for your efforts with this blog - I do very much enjoy it.

    1. I am glad that you enjoy reading and I appreciate your comments. I consider myself very open minded on many topics including vaccinations (living in Sub-Saharan Africa I saw many benefits to vaccinations). This is not a post about the specifics of vaccinations as that would require a book. You have helped me make two clarifications:
      - Thimerosal (mercury) is still in the multi-dose flu shots and is allowed for children. Yes there are alternatives but you must do the research and ask your caregiver.
      - 2-Phenoxyethanol was mislabeled and I have made the edit. The vaccines do contain Formaldehyde.

      As someone in the scientific community, please feel free to reach out to me if you are interested in working together.

  3. I found some blogs and articles stating that elderberry is a good immunity booster despite its poisonous property. One must learn how to remove the toxin so that he/she can reap the health benefits that it has. Thanks for sharing this!

    Ora @DABrico.com

    1. Yes, the elderberries must be cooked! The dried elderberries that I buy are not at all palatable on their own which is nature's way of telling us to stay away.

  4. I am always shocked when I see how much pregnancy tests cost at the store -- easily $10-$15 (or more) depending on the brand! learn more

  5. Healthy eating is crucial to a person's quality of health life. Avoidance of comfort food, junk foods, frequent heavy snacking etc., are important factors in cultivating healthy eating habits.