It’s cold and flu season again, and we’re all particularly worried this year because the flu has been just terrible. I try to always get my flu shot, but I’ve read that the flu shot will only go so far this year. It will help with the symptoms, but it won’t fully protect us.

I usually spend a good portion of the late fall and winter months fairly sick. I seem to always go from one cold to another, fighting off one thing or the next. Usually, my immune system loses the battle about half the time, making for a long winter for me.

But, this year, I heard about a natural remedy. I generally try to listen to the universe as much as I can, and it seemed that, all of a sudden, people I knew were mentioning elderberry syrup as a way to boost your immune system and avoid being so sick every winter. I had two friends from different places mention it on social media, and, within a few days, one of my online students wrote that she had been sick because she “ran out of elderberry syrup.”

Elderberry Image

It was time for me to take action! But, of course, being the slow, studious person I am, action was really about doing my research.

Here’s what I found out:

  1. Elderberries have long been used as a helper plant for humans. Apparently, there’s evidence of use of elder plants from the Stone Age, and the Greeks even wrote about it.
  2. Elderberry syrup is reported to help with colds, flus, and other respiratory illnesses. The chemicals in the elderberries may help reduce swelling in our mucous membranes, making it easier for us to breath when we have nasal congestion.
  3. There’s some scientific evidence to support this. Separate studies have found that elderberry can reduce symptoms of the flu and even shorten the number of days of the flu.

This was enough to convince me to make my own elderberry syrup last fall, and I’m thankful. I’ve not been sick a single time this winter, and that feels like nothing short of a miracle to me. Of course, I’m knocking on wood as I write this, but it seems to be working.

I simply take a dose of elderberry syrup five days a week. Then, if I start to feel like I’m getting sick, I double the dose for a few days. If I’m feeling like I’m starting to come down with a cold or bug, I’ll usually start to feel a little better within hours of taking my dose.

I use this recipe from Wellness Mama. This recipe calls for dried elderberries, raw honey, ginger, and cinnamon—all ingredients with a wide variety of health benefits.

You can purchase dried elderberries right now if you’re like me and don’t have access to elderberries otherwise. But we’re definitely planting a couple of elderberry bushes this year! If you decide to plant your own elderberry bushes as well, be sure to research to get the right variety. The blue and black elderberries are full of health benefits, but the red species will make you sick.

I feel like universe gave me a little tip this winter to help me feel healthier and happier. I’m now passing it on. It seems like the only right thing to do.

*Please note that I am not a doctor; well, I have a PhD, but I’m not the kind that can give out medical advice. I’ve just researched and tried elderberries and think they are amazing!

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