Your Mother was a Hamster and Your Father Smelled of Elderberries!

I am loving how things of the past are really making a comeback today.


Small vegetable gardens are replacing ornamentals, knitting is cool, canning is trending and people are taking back their medicine.

When my twin toddlers started group daycare last year, we were bombarded with a continual series of colds, coughs and sore throats all winter. Were they licking each other’s hands or what?! Not willing a repeat of that debacle, I decided I needed to learn more about how to prevent, and treat, illnesses myself.

After a couple sessions with wise-woman, herbalist Evelyn Coggins, I came home with some valuable knowledge and the know-how to make my own cough syrup, instead of relying on the small fortune and mysterious ingredients from those sold at the pharmacy.

“The art of healing comes from nature and not from the physician. Therefore, the physician must start from nature with an open mind.” – Paracelsus

Elder (Sambucus nigra), according to James Green in his must-have herbal book, The Herbal Medicine-Maker’s Handbook, is the reliable home remedy for cold, flu, fever, skin eruptions, sprains, bruises, wounds, hayfever, sinusitis, tension, constipation, rheumatic discomfort, and on and on. Elder contains essential oil, alkaloids, tannins, flavonoids, mucilage, vitamins A and C, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, beta carotene, cyanogenic glycosides and viburnic acid.

What exactly does all that mean? I’m not too sure myself, but Elderberry syrup sounds like something definitely worth having in an arsenal of natural remedies!


IMG_3136Elderberry Syrup for Boosting Immunity

A simple elderberry syrup recipe made with dried elderberries, honey and herbs for an immune boosting and delicious syrup.

Prep time Cook time Total time
5 minutes 1 hour 1 hour 5 minutes


  • 3 cups of filtered water
  • 1 cup elderberries (found at beNatural in Pemberton)
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • ½ teaspoon cloves
  • 2 Tablespoons of grated fresh ginger root
  • 1 cup of raw honey
  • Other possible additions: dried rosehips (they are out now!), apple cider vinegar, turmeric, Echinacea tincture… truly the possibilities are endless.


  1. Pour water into medium saucepan and bring to a boil.
  2. Once boiling, turn down heat until the water is simmering, add elderberries, cloves, cinnamon sticks and grated ginger.
  3. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes to an hour until the liquid has reduced by almost half.
  4. Remove from heat and let cool. Strain the bulk of the liquid into a large bowl, dump the remaining elderberry mixture into a cheesecloth and squeeze as much liquid as possible from it.
  5. Compost the elderberries and let the liquid cool to lukewarm. When it is no longer hot, add 1 cup of honey and stir well.
  6. When honey is well mixed, bottle and label.
  7. Store in the fridge and take daily. Some sources recommend taking only during the week and not on the weekends to boost immunity.


NOTES: Standard dose is ½ tsp to 1 tsp for kids and ½ Tbsp to 1 Tbsp for adults. If the flu does strike, take the normal dose every 2-3 hours instead of once a day until symptoms disappear. For children under 1 years old, add one cup of maple syrup instead of honey. Safe storage in the fridge for as long as 6 months as over 20% sugar content.


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