Elderberry Syrup to Boost Your Immunity

TEXT by Celine MacKay | PHOTOGRAPHS by Pure Green Magazine


The season of colds and flus is upon us, and it seems the bugs are persistent and nasty this winter. Arm yourself with this simple DIY for Elderberry Syrup (or purchase from a reputable source that makes quality product, free from artificial sweeteners, my favourite is made local to me by Wild Muskoka Botanicals). A longtime favourite of herbalists and folk-healers, elderberry boosts our body's natural immunity by helping to block the receptor sites that viruses use to get into our cells and make you sick. Because of this, the best time to take elderberry is before you get really sick as a preventative, or when you first start to feel the syptoms of getting a cold or flu.

As an added bonus, elderberry is very high in antioxidants, particularly polyphenols which help the body reduce blood sugar and insulin resistance, reduce inflammation, protect the heart and cardiovascular system, protect the brain and bones, and it also possess anti-carcinogenic qualities. 

You can boost the blend with herbs to boost the immunity / adaptogenic qualities of taking elderberry syrup daily as well. The basic recipe contains ginger and cinnamon, which synergize the elderberry, and raw honey, which is antibacterial and throat-soothing.

This simple syrup has become a staple at home, there is always a bottle in the fridge, and it's especially wonderful because the basic recipe is great for kids too. 



  • 1/2 cup dried organic or ethically wildcrafted blue elderberries 
  • 3 cups water
  • 6 or 8 thick slices of raw ginger
  • 2-3 cinnamon sticks or small handful of chips
  • 1 cup raw honey


In a medium saucepan, combine elderberries, ginger, cinnamon, and water and bring to a gentle boil (add any boosters now as well). Immediately reduce heat to low until you have a gentle simmer, then cover (you want to control how much steam is lost) and cook for 30-45 minutes. 

Strain the berries through a very fine mesh strainer (I like to use a potato ricer so I can really squeeze out every last bit of juice), keeping the juice and discarding the berries. 

Return pot to stove, adding honey and warming gently (just enough to dissolve the honey—you don't want to cook the honey).

Bottle and store in the fridge for 2-3 months. Take the syrup daily as a preventative (1 tablespoon) or at the first onset of cold/flu symptoms (hit it hard, every waking hour or so).


  • Codonopsis Root: an adaptogen (a class of herbs that helps us deal with effects of stress) and also has an affinity for the immune system. Provides level energy when you might be feeling fatigued or laid low. Add 2-3 dried roots to the blend.
  • Echinacea (root or all parts): helps activate the immune response. Add 2-3 tablespoons.
  • Astralagus Root: strengthens immune function and helps prevent infection. Add 2-3 tablespoons.

NOTES: Only ingest cooked elderberries, and use a fine-enough strainer to strain out elderberry seeds, which can cause mild nausea in some cases.

The information in this post is intended to help our readers arm themselves with natural tools to help pave a path to wellness. Use wisely and under the continued care/guidance of your regular healthcare practitioners.

Herbs are not miracle cures (taking them is not like taking a targeted drug), however they are purposeful and wonderful at helping the body and its systems work optimally. They synergize your body's existing healing mechanisms, and reintroduce the healing patterns found in nature.


Body Into Balance: An Herbal Guide to Holistic Self-Care by Maria Noel Groves | Rosemary Gladstar's Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health