Elderberry (Sambucus nigra)
From The Handbook of Vintage Remedies: The elder plant, both the flowers and berries have been used medicinally since the time of Hippocrates. It was traditionally used as a remedy for the flu and common cold, and today, that tradition remains strong, as many natural cold and flu preparations still contain parts of the elder plant.
Dr. Shook, an herbal pioneer discussed the herb many times in his work, and fervently believed that the common cold and flu could be cured worldwide by the use of a blend containing elder and peppermint with yarrow.
The berries are also frequently made into a syrup preparation and are thus suitable as an immune booster, working to prevent viral infections during times of increased exposure.
When to use it: Elder is ideally suited for use as an immune stimulant and as a remedy for viral infections, particularly the flu and common cold. Elderberry syrup is a staple in the Hawkins’ home during the fall and winter months. When additional remedies are also useful, elderberry can be continued throughout the illness, as it blends readily with many other herbs.
Culinary Medicine: Elderberry jam is a common addition to many breakfast tables in some countries. While it is not as commonly available in the United States, some gourmet grocers carry foods featuring elderberries. The berries must be cook, however, since the raw plant contains a cyanide producing substance that is inactivated by cooking.
Optimal Dose: 1-3 tablespoons syrup a day
When to avoid it: Elder berries and flowers are generally considered to be safe, and there are no known situations that would require avoidance of the herb.
Project: Elderberry Syrup
This syrup is a must have during the cold and flu season. It is kid friendly and can be used with other herbs to create useful remedies throughout the year.
100 g dried elderberries
1 quart cold distilled water
1/2 cup brown rice syrup
1 cup local honey
Combine in a large (cold) saucepot. If time permits, allow the berries to soak until they are soft, about 30 – 60 minutes. Place over medium heat and gradually bring to a boil. Once a rolling boil has been reached, stir frequently and continue to boil until the liquid has been reduced by half – roughly 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.
Strain the concentrated extract and measure the liquid. It should be roughly 2 cups. Combine with the cup and a half of honey, brown rice syrup, glycerin or simple sugar solution. (Or a blend of two or more sweeteners as I did in the ingredient list above.) Bring back to a boil and continue to boil for 10 minutes until the mixture is thoroughly combined and the syrup reaches your preferred consistency. Allow to cool slightly and pour into prepared bottles. Store in the refrigerator.
Notes: My personal preference is a thick, honey-like syrup that stays on the spoon when scooped out of the bottle. However, you can make it as thick or thin as you prefer, depending on how long you boil the second stage.
Alternative Recipe: Cough and Cold Syrup
75 g dried black elderberries
20 g dried astragalus root
25 g dried echinacea root
10 g dried wild cherry bark
1 cup local honey
(Use the same directions as the basic elderberry syrup. All dried herbs will go in the water with the elderberry in the initial decoction stage.)
Want to learn more? Check out our distance learning herbal education programs!
We’re also thrilled to announce the new, updated student portal. This new feature is intuitive and easy-to-use with some amazing new features! We’re releasing the new portal this weekend and all students will be able to use it early next week! Here’s a rundown of our features:
- easy network access to Cassie or Jessie, your academic director
- Personalized grading of all online tests
- Email notifications when your tests are graded
- Simplified page views of current grades, notes about each exam grade, and course averages – you can see at a glance how you’re progressing and what areas need additional work!
- Study Guides for Exam Prep
- New Student Forums – divided by course enrollment!
- To-Do lists showing (at a glance) what assignments you have left to complete in your course
- easy-to-use mobile interface
- and much, much more!!
If you’re a current student, keep an eye on your inbox! Another email with all of your account details and your log-in instructions will be on the way next week. If you’re not a student yet, you can take advantage of all of these great features by enrolling in a course! Our new Foundations of Herbalism program is discounted through midnight tonight. After today, the introductory price will no longer be available.
Our friends over at J&M Botanicals have provided another giveaway, this time a professional-sized set of 13 pure, organic essential oils!! This set includes bergamot, citronella, clove bud, eucalyptus, lavender, lemon eucalyptus, tea tree, peppermint, rosemary, spearmint, sweet orange, tangerine, ylang ylang. That’s a total retail value of $247.60.
Don’t forget – even if you don’t win the oil sets, you can use the special discount code J&M Botanicals has provided guests of the Vintage Remedies facebook party to save 20% on all essential oil purchases made before midnight tonight! To take advantage of this offer, use the code “VintageRemedies” at checkout.
Here’s how to enter the giveaway:
1. Leave a comment below.
2. Head on over to Amazon.com and leave a review for your favorite Vintage Remedies book. Leave a comment here for each review you posted. Here’s the link to our most popular books: Guide to Bread / Handbook of Vintage Remedies / Guide to Real Food
UPDATE: Congrats to Beth for winning comment #7
This has been a HUGE week here at Vintage Remedies! We just signed the new lease for our space – this will be the third time in two years we’ve had to more than double our space! Our new home will be in the same location – The Factory at Franklin in historic downtown Franklin, TN. We’ll be moving out of our current office space to a larger space in the front of the building – with it’s own retail storefront. Look for pics, info about a grand opening for our retail store, and more in the weeks to come!
We also moved our website over to a new home. We’re loving the new site; enrolling has never been easier, and we love how easy it is to learn about the programs and products. However, with the move, we lost all of our great reviews from you – our valuable students and customers. So, to help us get those moved over, we’re hosting a fun moving giveaway.
To enter, head on over to the VR website and leave reviews for your favorite VR products or programs. You can leave up to one review per item. Once you’ve done that, head back here and leave one comment for each review. We’ll choose a winner on Monday, July 2 (our first day in our new offices!) for a $75 Vintage Remedies gift certificate!! The only catch is that we ask you to only review items you’ve read or used so that the reviews are applicable to the products. New to VR? No worries! You can still enter the contest below by leaving a comment and sharing our new site on your favorite social media outlet. Leave one comment for each share.
Thanks for playing!
UPDATE: This giveaway has now ended. Congratulations to lucky #55!
Antibiotic resistance is a hot topic right now. We’re finding that new superbugs exist – more dangerous than the last. And we’re finding that resistant bacteria is everywhere – including our food supply! This issue isn’t a new one… far from it. We’ve been warned for years that this is a big concern – Alexander Fleming even predicted it decades ago! We teach about responsible antibiotic use and prevention of resistance in our courses – and have since the formation of the school in 2007.
So, I’m prepping a series about resistance. Just the facts… how this happens, why it’s a concern and what we can do to protect our children and their children from entering a pre-antibiotic era soon. We also have some fabulous guest posts from Elizabeth Battle, a Clinical Master Herbalist student with Vintage Remedies on some antibiotic herbs that make great options. Interested? Stay tuned… and if you have specific questions, I’m still tweaking the posts and would love to fit those answers in for you. Just leave your thoughts or questions in the comments below.