What's The Big Deal About Elderberry Cold & Flu Syrup?
Reportedly, 1 BILLION Americans are catching colds per year. In the U.K., adults experience an average of 2-3 colds per year and children experience an average of 5-8 colds per year. With our children getting sick more often than us, it's important we look for ways to boost their (and our) immunity.
Visit any pharmacy and you'll note there is no shortage of options to treat a cold and or the flu, however, our family opts for natural, homemade remedies instead. This way, we know EXACTLY what's going into our children and us! In a follow-up post, I will discuss ingredients you want to avoid in cold and flu medicine; today, we will focus on a powerhouse of an ingredient, ELDERBERRY!
In this article, I will discuss what elderberries are, what they have been used for traditionally and why I think they are still relevant today. Let's get into it.
What is elderberry?
Elderberry refers to several different varieties of the Sambucus tree, which is a flowering plant belonging to the Adoxaceae family.
The most common type is Sambucus nigra, also known as the European elderberry or black elder. This tree is native to Europe, though it is widely grown in many other parts of the world as well (1).
The berries and flowers of elderberry are packed with antioxidants and vitamins that may boost your immune system. They could help tame inflammation, lessen stress and help protect your heart too (2).
Elderberries should be cooked to remove toxins which can cause symptoms such as, diarrhoea, nausea, and vomiting. If you need to take the guesswork out of this process, purchase a ready made syrup from a trusted source, like Chaste.
What are the health benefits of elderberry?
Although elderberries may be new to you, they have been used for CENTURIES to treat ailments such as:
- Cold & Flu
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Hay Fever
- High cholesterol
- Sinus infections
- Tooth aches
- Upper respiratory infections
- Joint and muscle pain
Although a cold or the flu can occur throughout the year, research indicates there are increases in the colder months-typically between September-May (3), country dependent.
A common misconception is that the weather itself can cause a cold or the flu, when in actual fact, they are caused by viruses...and there could be roughly 200 of those! The most common being rhinovirus.
Here, in the U.K., we are most definitely in the colder months...in fact, I must have blinked and missed the summer ENTIRELY! With children back in school and in close contact with other children, perhaps not maintaining the best hygienic practices and most importantly, harbouring an immune system which may not be functioning optimally, our precious beings may be more susceptible to succumbing to viruses. Who likes seeing a sick child?! That's one reason so much money is thrown at over the counter "remedies."
Where there is a sick child, there may be a sick adult who follows. This may require the adult to take time off work, which has caused companies a loss of revenue.
According to Public Health England (2020), in the UK, the total economic cost of sickness absence, lost productivity through worklessness, informal caregiving, and health-related productivity losses, are estimated to be over £100bn annually. (4)!
What Can We Do?
First, get to the root cause of the illness, don't just plaster/band-aid the problem. An individual's lifestyle needs to be looked at, for instance:
- Gut Health
- Sleep practices
- Lack of exercise
Second, make a note of any areas which need to be strengthened and create an action plan.
Third, seek help! Habits weren't created overnight; usually, it takes time, determination, persistence and consistency (to name a few), to actually drive change. It may be that you need a support system to accomplish these things and if friends and family are ill equipped to assist you, then you may need professional assistance, i.e. a health coach, behavioural therapist, naturopathic nutritionist, herbalist, etc.
However, one thing you can take advantage of almost immediately, is incorporating 1 tablespoon of elderberry cold & flu syrup daily into an adult diet and 1 teaspoon per day into a child's diet.
In our experience, elderberry cold and flu syrup works best as a preventative measure, meaning consume it consistently throughout the year, rather than waiting to become ill or for the "cold & flu season" to kick in. Our advice would also be to increase the dosage with the first sign of illness and consume more frequently until symptoms cease.
Very often, elderberry cold and flu syrups contain raw honey, therefore, it is not advisable for children under 12 months to ingest. They can take the elderberry with an alternative sweetener such as agave syrup, stevia or maple syrup. For fussy eaters, try incorporating a bit of the liquid into smoothies or cold press juices.
I stumbled across elderberry cold & flu syrup around 2013/14 and was purchasing it so frequently for our household, it was no longer financially viable. I then began making my own syrup and haven't turned back since.
If finances aren't an issue, by all means, purchase a bottle or SEVERAL! Just ensure you check the ingredient list.
How to Read an Ingredient list
One important factor when it comes to Elderberry, is QUALITY; checking the ingredient list is a necessity. Popular brands tend to have glucose syrup as the first ingredient and can incorporate coloring and "natural flavorings," which aren't always 100% natural.
If you aren't sure how to read the ingredient list, a good rule to follow is to pay attention to at LEAST the first 3 ingredients listed and if sugar or syrups are there, AVOID! Also look out for a short ingredient lists AND an ingredient list you can understand!
As a believer in elderberry cold & flu syrup, I offer it in 2 different sizes here. The only ingredients we use are: Filtered water, organic dried elderberries, organic honey, organic ginger, organic cinnamon, organic cloves and love...that's it!
If you're consuming it regularly and/or have to provide for a large family like me, then you can use a recipe such as this.
Now that you've learned what Elderberry is, some of its AMAZING health benefits, and even how to prepare it yourself, I strongly encourage you to begin using it regularly within your household.
If you aren't currently using natural remedies and need more of a reason to make the switch from commercial alternatives, try using apps like YUKA , which will help you identify ingredients and know which ones you are better off without.
If you've used elderberry before, use it regularly or would like to start, we would LOVE to hear from you in our comment section! Also, if you have ANY questions, please also reach out.