Elderberries for Cold and Flu Prevention


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With the cold and flu season in full gear, a Mom’s best friend can be an arsenal of natural remedies to help keep her and her family healthy.  This post is going to be limited to just one of many of those, but be on the lookout for more to come soon.  I’m starting with elderberries (Sambucus spp) because they pack a powerful punch into their sweet, fruity selves!


Elderberries and their flowers have long been used in traditional European medicine to treat fevers, joint pain, and most notably as a cure for colds and the flu!  Clinically proven to fight against 8 different strains of the flu virus, elderberries are a must to have on hand every winter.  They work by mediating production of different cytokines (a group of proteins, peptides or glycoproteins that are secreted by specific cells of the immune system) — decreasing those that trigger an inflammatory response, and increasing (by up to 10x the normal amount) those that spur production of a non-inflammatory infection fighting response.  They have also been found to inhibit a virus’ ability to penetrate the healthy cells that line the inside of the nose and throat — a key entry point for the flu virus.


As a preventative measure, adding elderberries to your daily health regime during the cold and flu season is a good idea.  However, they can also be taken at the first signs of illness to stop its progression, and/or to decrease time of illness.  In one clinical trial, 90% of participants claimed complete cure within 3 days, whereas those participants receiving the placebo took 6!


In addition to it’s flu fighting abilities, elderberries are super tasty!  They can be made and taken as a syrup, tea, tincture, or encapsulation.  However, when made into a syrup, it’s practically a treat for kids!  Mine don’t ever need me to remind them to take it daily (and that’s not because they are at an age where they value their health over treats quite yet ).


It’s certainly easy to find Elderberry Syrup at any of your local health stores, but did you know it’s also easy to make at home and will save you quite a bit of money by doing so?!  If you’re a do-it-yourselfer, follow the instructions for How to Make an Herbal Syrup, and be sure to let your kids help in the medicine making process — they’ll love it, and it will help set the stage for them to take ownership of their ability to not only keep themselves healthy, but also to heal themselves when they become sick.


If you’d like to buy bulk elderberries or flowers for tea or syrup and don’t have a local herb store, I recommend the following online retailers:


Mountain Rose Herbs

Oregon Wild Harvest

Pacific Botanicals



Amy Paolinelli

About Amy Paolinelli

Amy is a mom of 3 lively kiddos, a wife, and an advocate for natural living. Prior to having children, she worked as a Marriage and Family Therapist with high-risk youth. After having her first daughter, she found her passion in pregnancy, childbirth, babies, and natural living. She is now an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant in private practice, a student of Herbal Medicine for Women, and cofounder of 3Girls Holistic – a truly pure herbal skin care line. She loves getting her hands dirty in the garden and spending time near the water. You can find more of her writings atwww.3girlsholistic.com


11 thoughts on “Elderberries for Cold and Flu Prevention”

  1. For children ages 2-12, 1 teaspoon a day for preventative measures and 2-3 teaspoons a day at first sign of illness until it passes. For infants over 6 months, 1/2 tsp a day with signs of illness. However use caution with those that use honey. It is safe for breastfeeding moms 🙂

  2. Mountain Rose Herbs is my go-to source for elderberries too, but they’ve been out of stock all season. I don’t know when they’ll have them again. Looks like both of the other sources you listed are out of stock too. I’ve been browsing ebay lately trying to decide if I should order there. I’m planning on buying bushes this year so I’ll have my own berries in a few years. We make elderberry syrup every year and it works very well. It protected us from H1N1 (and those of us who got it only had it for a day) a couple of years ago too. Here’s my recipe, which is similar and really easy. http://www.examiner.com/article/natural-recipes-elderberry-honey-syrup For infants under a year, you can just use maple syrup for the sweetener instead of honey. Maple syrup has been shown to have a few natural curative elements too, although honey has lots more.

  3. Great article, thanks! What would the dosage be when you are pregnant? I guess first signs of illness and while sick. Would you use it preventatively while pregnant?

  4. I really appreciate your article on Elderberry, as we love it too. Great info on how to make syrup. In case you don’t have time to make your own syrup, Black Elderberry Glycerite (alcohol-free) is a good option and yummy too!

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