My top 5 favorite herbs for the winter season...
Updated: Jan 31
There are a number of herbs that are incredibly effective in helping to keep us healthy and happy during the winter months. This week begins my Top “5” herbal series. Each week, over the next five weeks, I will highlight one of my favorites plants/herbs to use during the winter season. Be sure to tune in to catch helpful information, fun facts and recipes using my Top “5”
Sambucus Nigra~ Black Elderberry
Black Elderberry is the first in my Top ‘5’ series primarily because it is delicious! (Check out the recipe below). A member of the Honeysuckle family, (Black) Elderberry is one of my “go-to” plants, especially during cold and flu season. Each part of this plant (flowers, berries and leaves) have their own unique medicinal uses. This post will focus on the berries. Elderberries can be used to make powerful and tasty immune booting syrup! Broadly speaking, the constituents in Elderberries have been shown to demonstrate antimicrobial properties. More specifically, the active constituents are antiviral, making a syrup made of these berries particularly useful in combating the flu. In fact, several studies have shown Elderberries to not only prevent but decrease the duration of flu symptoms to 3-4 days. With the usual course of the flu between 5-7 days, spending potentially up to FOUR fewer days sick is a great reason to give this herb a try!
Note: Use of any herbal preparation or commercially made supplement should be done under the supervision of your physician.
Fun Fact: Elderberries are delicious! Dried or cooked elderberries are safe and yummy (avoid eating raw Elderberries). The berries can be used in making a variety of tasty treats such as tarts, pies, muffins, gummies and jam. Many recipes can be found online.
Elderberry Syrup Recipe:
3/4 cup Elderberries (dried, 1 cup if using fresh berries)
3 cups water
1 cup raw honey (more or less may be used, sweeten to taste)
Optional ingredients: These can be used to add to the flavor of your syrup if you choose
Cinnamon: 1-2 sticks
Cloves: 2-3 whole
Fresh Ginger root: 1 tbsp
Rosehips: 1 tbsp
Combine water and elderberries in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil (this can be a low boil). At this time add in any combination of the optional ingredients listed above). Cover and reduce the heat to low and simmer for 45-60 minutes allowing the water to reduce (by about half). Remove from heat and use a potato masher to release any additional juice from the berries. Allow to cool. Once cool, use strain the berries and juice using cheesecloth (squeeze well) or a fine sieve (using a spatula to press the juice from the berries). Keep the juice and discard the cooked berries. Stir in the honey, mixing completely and store in a jar with a tight lid (mason jars are great). This syrup can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 2-3 months (of course discard if there are any signs of spoilage).
Dosing: Be sure to consult your physician!
Adults: 1 teaspoon, up to twice daily
Children: Due to honey, the above recipe is NOT suitable to give to children under 12 months in age.
Children 1-2 years: 1/4 teaspoon, up to twice daily
Children 3 and above: 1/3 teaspoons, up to twice daily
**Warning (s): **
Honey should not be given to children under 12 months in age.
Consult your physician prior to use if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Roschek B, Fink RC, McMichael MD, Li D, Alberte RS. Elderberry flavonoids bind to and prevent H1N1 infection in vitro. Phytochemistry. (2009);70:1255-1261.
Zakay-Rones, Varsano,N, Zlotnik, M, Manor, O, Regev, L, Sclesinger M, Mumcuglu M. Inhibition of several strains of influenza virus in vitro and reduction of symptoms by an elderberry extract during an outbreak of influenza B Panama. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. August 2007, 1(4): 361-369.https://doi.org/10.1089/acm.1995.1.361
Bensky D, Clavey S, Stiger E. (2004). Chinese Herbal Medicine Maeria Medica. Seattle, WA: Eastland Press.
Hoffman D. (2003). Medical Herbalism-The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine. Rochester, VT. Healing Arts Press.