Monday, 21 January 2013

Elderberry Syrup - The anti-sick boost

I am sick of being sick.  I gave up gluten after being sick for almost a year.  If I wasn't coming down with something I was just getting over it, to come down with something else.  I think I spent 2 weeks of that year not blowing my nose.

About 2 weeks after giving up gluten the cold went away and the frequency that I got sick was like any other healthy human...... for about a year.  I had one cold that lasted a few days.

Well now at almost 3 years gluten free, the constant cold feeling as returned.  The constant run down feeling, the constant stuffy nose, the plugged ears, the tired muscles.

In North America we are having a brutal flu season.  Even the vaccine manufacturers are coming out and admitting that they are having a very low success rate this year (*epic eye roll*) I refuse to spend another moment of my life sick.  So after finishing the antibiotics I went on the assault.  I have been dosing myself heavily with probiotics to rebuild my gut after the drugs.  I brewed a huge batch of Kombucha (which is still fermenting) to start drinking regularly again, I ordered Fermented Cod Liver Oil/Butter Oil combo and I made Elderberry Syrup AND I cut dairy.  Over reaction?  All of these things are so beneficial to my (or anyone's) general health that I really should be doing them all the time regardless of the flu season.

So before I get to the recipe, for those of you that don't know about Elderberries

Elderberry Facts & Benefits

  • ElderberryElderberries have strong antioxidant quality. Used to lower cholesterol, improve vision, boost the immune system, improve heart health and for coughs, colds, flu, bacterial and viral infections and tonsilitis. 
  • Elderberries have been a folk remedy for centuries in North America, Europe, Western Asia, and North Africa.  
  •  Bioflavonoids and other proteins in the juice destroy the ability of cold and flu viruses to infect a cell. 
  • Elderberry juice was used to treat a flu epidemic in Panama in 1995 and people with the flu who took elderberry juice reported less severe symptoms and felt better much faster than those who did not.
  • Elderberries contain organic pigments, tannins, amino acids, carotenoids (yellow, orange, or red fat-soluble pigments), flavonoids (including quercetin and anthocyanins, antioxidants) , sugar, rutin (another class of flavonoid), viburnic acid (known to have a positive effect on diarrhea, nasal congestion, and to improve respiration (Novelli 2003)), vitamin A and B and a large amount of vitamin C. They are also mildly laxative, a diuretic, and diaphoretic(makes you sweat). According to test tube studies these flavonoids are very powerful antioxidants and protect cells against damage.
  •  Elderberries were listed in the CRC Handbook of Medicinal Herbs as early as 1985
  •  Listed in the 2000 Mosby's Nursing Drug reference for colds, flu, yeast infections, nasal and chest congestion, and hay fever. 
  • In Israel, Hasassah's Oncology Lab has determined that elderberry stimulates the body's immune system and they are treating cancer and AIDS patients with it. The wide range of medical benefits (from flu and colds to debilitating asthma, diabetes, and weight loss) is probably due to the enhancement of each individual's immune system.
  • At the Bundesforschungsanstalt research center for food in Karlsruhe, Germany, scientists conducting studies on Elderberry showed that elderberry anthocyanins(those flavonoids) enhance immune function by boosting the production of cytokines. These unique proteins act as messengers in the immune system to help regulate immune response, thus helping to defend the body against disease. Further research indicated that anthocyanins found in elderberries possess appreciably more antioxidant capacity than either vitamin E or vitamin C.
  • Studies at Austria's University of Graz found that elderberry extract reduces oxidation of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. Oxidation of LDL cholesterol is implicated in atherogenesis, thus contributing to cardiovascular disease.
1. J Alt Compl Mod 1995: 1:361-69 2. Youdim KA, Martin A, Joseph JA. Incorporation of the elderberry anthocyanins by endothelial cells increases protection against oxidative stress

Elderberry Herb Notes / Side Effects
Latin Name: Sambucus nigra
Common Names: Elderberry, Black Elderberry, North American Elderberry
Properties: antioxidant, diaphoretic, diuretic, laxative, immune-boosting, anti-inflammatory
Uses: Immune system boost, coughs, colds, flu, bacterial infections, viral infections, tonsilitis, lower cholesterol, improved vision and heart health.
Indicated for: Cancer, HIV, asthma and bronchitis, reduce inflammation of the urinary tract and bladder.
Infusions of the fruit are said to be beneficial for nerve disorders, back pain, and have been used to reduce inflammation of the urinary tract and bladder.

 How to Make Elderberry Syrup
(You can buy Elderberry Syrup at most health food stores but it is very expensive)
 What you need:
  • 1 cup dried elderberries (about 1/4 lb., cost me $10 at Thuna)
  • 4 cups filtered water
  • 1 cup raw honey
  • 2 tbsp. fresh grated ginger (optional)
  • A 1-qt. mason jar with lid
Bring the elderberries and water to a boil (include ginger if using), turn down and let simmer for 30 minutes or until the liquid has cooked down to half.

Turn off the heat and let cool to luke warm then add the honey.  If you don't let it cool the heat will kill all the beneficial enzymes in the raw honey (which help fight virus' as well)

Strain the juice into a mason jar, pressing all the juice out of the berries to get all the benefits out.

Refrigerate.  Can be kept in the fridge for up to 6 months.  If you are wondering what it tastes like, to me it tastes like water that had raisins soaking in it.  It isn't a strong or unpleasant taste.  The kids like it

Children 1/2 to 1 tsp daily
Adults 1/2 to 1 tbsp daily
When sick dose every 3 hours. 

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