Christmas festivities have come and gone. New Years will soon be over. For many of us the celebrating started back on Thanksgiving and is still taking place. Getting together with family, friends, attending holiday events and, of course, eating all the special food that signify this time of year! I didn’t completely go overboard with my eating but I did indulge in way more treats than usual. Because of that I’m feeling a bit blah and my body is ready for me to start treating it right! Because many of our holiday foods include a lot of sugar, I’m going to share a simple recipe that will support our immune systems, possibly give us protection from all the winter nasties going around, and on top of that – it tastes great!
Sugar is in so many of our foods and even more so in special occasion foods. Sugar depresses the immune system. Just a little goes a long way – a couple of teaspoons can depress the immune system for several hours. Ingesting it all day long – well that’s a problem! Other things also contribute to immune system depletion. Stress (and who hasn’t had that the last several weeks!) and lack of sleep just to name a few! So let’s do something simple to nourish ourselves and hopefully avoid some of the illnesses being passed around.
Several months ago I was given a recipe for elderberry syrup. Elderberries have been used for centuries as a folk remedy. They have high antioxidant activity, help lower cholesterol, boost the immune system, improve heart health and are an aid in treating coughs, colds, flu, bacterial and viral infections, and tonsillitis. In one study comparing those who took elderberry versus a placebo, ninety percent of participants receiving elderberry improved within one to three days, while only eight percent on a placebo showed improvement with the remainder taking 6 days to improve. That’s quite a difference! I purchase my elderberries from Bulk Herb Store and the label says this: they contain compounds that inhibits the enzyme flu viruses from penetrating our cell membranes and also prevent the virus from invading respiratory tract cells. Taken early enough as a tea or tincture, you may be able to head off an upcoming illness before it becomes a full blown flu. They are especially good for bronchitis, colds, coughing and influenza.
With the addition of essential oils with known immune supporting properties this syrup really can be preventative. If your immune system isn’t able to totally fight off the germs, the syrup can then be used to shorten the duration. When choosing essential oils, they should definitely be ones you can trust and of therapeutic grade. My choice is Young Living and the oils included are Thieves, Cinnamon, and Clove – all high in antioxidant activity. (If you would like to know more about Young Living Essential Oils and how to use them, please leave a comment.)
The final ingredient is honey. While many feel honey is nothing more than a simple sugar, there is much information available as to the value of using honey for many situations such as coughing, treating burns, etc. I feel comfortable using honey for my family, but you must make your own choice!
Do not use elderberry syrup if on medications that depress the immune system as the effectiveness of the medication may be decreased.
- 2/3 cup black elderberries. (DO NOT EAT RAW IF YOU DON”T KNOW THE SOURCE. Depending on how they are harvested they can be toxic. Bulk Herb Store elderberries are safe.)
- 3 1/2 cups water
- 2 T fresh or dried ginger root
- 2 drops Young Living cinnamon essential oil
- 1 drop Young Living clove essential oil
- 5 – 7 Young Living Thieves essential oil
- 1 c raw, local honey
- Place water, elderberries, and ginger root into a medium saucepan.
- Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer, cover and cook 45 minutes to one hour until reduced by half.
- Remove from heat and cool enough to handle saucepan.
- Strain the liquid, pressing the berries, into a bowl.
- Discard used berries.
- Add essential oils and honey. Stir until honey is dissolved.
- Store in a quart mason jar in the refrigerator. (I pour part of mine into a clean balsamic vinegar or olive oil bottle for ease of pouring.)
- Kids take 1/2 – 1 teaspoon daily for maintenance and adult 1/2 – 1 T daily, skipping weekends.
- If flu, colds, or other respiratory ailments occur take the daily amount every 2 – 3 hours until symptoms subside.
- Avoid elderberry syrup if taking immune suppressing medications.