Thursday, July 5, 2012

How to make Elder berry and Echinacea Syrup: a remedy kids will enjoy

Today I wanted to show you how easy it is to make homemade herbal syrup. Syrups are a wonderful remedy to make several times a year because one batch can last for several months. This week I've talked about some childhood issues and elder berry and echinacea syrup is very kid friendly, helping with colds, flus and upper respiratory infections.

Elder berries (Sambucus Nigra) are something that everyone should have on hand, especially throughout the winter. This herb's antiviral and immune enhancing properties are something to be marveled. In vitro it has been shown to protect against 10 different types of the flu virus by strengthening our cell membranes and preventing the virus from penetrating the cell. It can also help to alleviate symptoms of the flu 3 to 4 days faster. The berries can be helpful in cases of colds, flus and catarrh and infection in the upper respiratory system. Elder berries are almost always included in most of my blends for colds and flus. Plus, they are safe for kids and have no side effects or drug interactions. One warning is to make sure you are using the black elder berries because the red ones are toxic.

Echinacea (Echinacea angustifolia, E purpuria and E. pallida) is another cold and flu must have. It helps to boost the immune system and fight of pathogens by activating macrophages that destroy pathogens and increasing phagocytosis by increasing the number of white blood cells. By activating the immune system, echinacea can reduce the duration of infection and also the severity of symptoms. Effective against both viruses and bacteria, this herb is helpful in the treatment and prevention of infection especially in the upper respiratory system; however, its effectiveness decreases if it is used all the time. The body becomes used to it and it is no longer useful. So only use echinacea when you feel your immune system is compromised or when you know you are getting sick. Echinacea is such a valuable plant that it is at risk in the wild. I, therefore, suggest only purchasing E. purpurea that is organically cultivated. Echinacea is safe for kids but it may interfere with immunosuppressant drugs.

Now that I have provided a little information as to why elder berries and echinacea are valuable herbal friends, let me show you how to make the syrup.

Measure out 30 g (1oz) of elder berries and 30 g of echinacea.

Place the herbs in a pot and cover them with 4 cups of water. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat and simmer until the mixture is reduced by half.

Strain the herbs off and reserve the liquid. Measure the amount to liquid you have remaining.

Rinse the pot and put the liquid back into the pot at a warm temperature. Add raw honey at a ratio of 2 cups of liquid to 1 cup of honey. Mix until the honey has dissolved.

Place the syrup in a glass jar and label. Make sure to include the date on your label. Store it in the refrigerator where it will keep for 2-3 months. 

A typical dose would be up to 1/2 tsp 4 times a day for kids under 7 and up to 1 tsp 6 times a day for kids over 7. Because this contains honey, do not give to kids under 1. For adults, 1 tablespoon can be taken every 30 minutes at the onset of symptoms. And that's how easy it is to make a safe and effective home remedy against colds and flus that kid and adults will enjoy.


Gladstar, R. (2001). Family herbal: a guide to living with energy, health and vitality. North Adams, MA: Storey Books.

Romm, A. (2003). Naturally healthy babies and children: a commonsense guide to herbal remedies, nutrition and health. Berkeley, CA: Celestial Arts.

Green, J. (2000). The herbal medicine-makers' handbook: a home manual. Freedom, Calif.: The Crossing Press.

Hoffmann, D. (2003). Medical herbalism: the science and practice of herbal medicine. Rochester, Vt.: Healing Arts Press.

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