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What Is Elderberry Syrup Good For? Does It Really Work?

According to the research: Elderberry Syrup Works! (But there's a caveat)

Yes! It works but you have to use it in moderation!

When it comes to alleviating symptoms from colds, flu and upper respiratory issues, elderberry syrup is very popular.

Elderberry syrup has been used for centuries to cure and treat a variety of illnesses and disorders.

There's a lot of research about this popular syrup which seems to rise more and more in popularity.

Does the research support what people seem to already believe; that it's almost a miracle medicine?

I'm wondering if some of the popularity comes from a mistrust of conventional medicine?

Just because a remedy is natural, doesn't automatically mean that it's safe. You need to be aware of what you eat and why.

I mean, you can't just dismiss the fact that Elderberries are toxic. You have to take that into consideration!

In this article we dig deeper into the research made on elderberry syrup.

Read on to find out what we learned!

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Elderberries Are Healthy, In Moderation, When Processed Right

Elderberries are a full of nutrients, including amino acids, carotenoids and flavonoids, as well as tannin, viburnic acid, vitamins A and B, and they are also high in vitamin C.

Anthocyanins, which is a type of flavonoids, are believed to be the antioxidants that protect cells from damage. Anthocyanin is the color that makes the berries dark blue/purple, almost black.

We have an article about the uses of elderberries and what it's good for, besides making syrup, if you're interested in learning more about elderberries.

Proven To Be Effective Against Illnesses

It's been proven in several studies that elderberry syrup can be used to reduce both the frequency and the length of existing respiratory infections. The elderberry syrup is efficient against viral infections such as the common cold or influenza A and B.

It seems to be efficient against sinusitis as well as reducing symptoms and speeding up recovery time.

The elderberry syrup can also help to strengthen the immune system.

Elderberry syrup is often used against flus, cough, cold, sinus infections, fevers, skin inflammation, allergies, ear and throat infections.

Buy It Or Make Your Own

If you are interested in elderberry syrup there are two ways to go, either you find a high quality brand available for purchase, or you can make your own. The bought syrup is more expensive than the homemade one but then again, it's very convenient and easy to get.

Here's an organic elderberry syrup#ad available on Amazon that we recommend. For images and prices including availability in Amazon markets please go to our recommended page.

Elderberry syrup can also be made from elderberry juice extract and enhanced with various vitamins and minerals. The home-made elderberry syrup, when made right, also hold similar curative and antiviral properties.

We also include a recipe for making your own elderberry syrup further down in this article.




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Elderberry Health Benefits

You should never eat elderberries raw! But when prepared right they are actually healthy for you. Elderberries are particularly rich in flavonoids, especially anthocyanins which are why the berries have the beautiful deep purple, almost black, coloring, just like blueberries and black currants.

These powerful antioxidants work to keep the immune system strong and resilient. The berries are also rich in nutrition such as vitamin C and beta carotene. Elderberries contains glycosides which are believed to alleviate infections and reduce fever.

These nutrients that you find in the elderberries are to be found in the syrup. They are not destroyed or otherwise during the process of making the syrup.

Does Elderberry Syrup Really Work? What Does The Research Tell Us?

There are positive results from research made on the health benefits of elderberry syrup. So it seems that elderberry syrup really works. Research show that black elderberries are well known as supportive agents against common cold and influenza.

There are studys that suggests that elderberry syrup is effective in the fight against some illnesses and other disorders.

Flu Epidemic In Panama

In 1993, during a particularly horrible flu epidemic in Panama, the government employed the use of elderberry syrup to treat the flu. A placebo-controlled, double blind study was carried out on a group of individuals living in an agricultural community during the outbreak. A complete cure was achieved within 2 to 3 days in nearly 90% of the elderberry extract-treated group and within at least 6 days in the placebo group.

The researchers wrote: Considering the efficacy of the extract in vitro on all strains of influenza virus tested, the clinical results, its low cost, and absence of side-effects, this preparation could offer a possibility for safe treatment for influenza A and B.

Used As Treatment For H1N1 Avian Flu

In 2009, a randomized trial of 60 patients aged 18-54 suffering from flu like symptoms, for 48 hours or less received 15 ml (3 teaspoons) of elderberry syrup or a placebo 4x per day for five days. The group who received the elderberry syrup as treatment showed significant improvement of flu symptoms and the duration of the flu was shortened by an average of four days. As a comparison, the group that took the placebo of sugar pills, needed about 6 days to completely recover. Furthermore, they took more pain killers to get relief from the symptoms.

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Against Bacterial Sinusitis

A study conducted by the Institute of Complementary Medicine’s Department of Internal Medicine at the University Hospital in Zurich, Switzerland examined the use of a proprietary product, Sinupret, which contains elderberry. The researchers used Sinupret to treat bacterial sinusitis along with an antibiotic (doxycycline or vibramycin) and a decongestant. People who took the combination did better compared to those who did not take Sinupret at all.

Effects On Blood Sugar Levels Without Added Insulin

Research published in the Journal of Nutrition evaluated black elderberry’s insulin-like and insulin-releasing actions in vitro. The study found that an aqueous extract of elderberry significantly increased glucose transport, glucose oxidation and glycogenesis without any added insulin.

Be aware that the majority of research has only been performed on commercial products, and there is little information about the safety or efficacy of homemade remedies.




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How Does Elderberry Syrup Work?

Healing power in all its glory!

Elderberries inhibit neuraminidase, an enzyme that viruses use to spread from one cell to another. This means that the elderberry syrup can potentially prevent viruses from spreading and therefore might help your immune system to fight of illnesses.

Some believe that regular consumption of elderberry syrup will boost your immune system so that you'll avoid falling ill all together. This is not something I recommend.

Helps Keep The Airways Clear And Just About Anything...

Some believe that the syrup assists in minimizing the production of mucus, making it helpful for keeping airways clear.

But it’s common to take the syrup for all kinds of illnesses, and not just those involving the respiratory system.

This is the "miracle" part of this "miracle remedy". I'm not convinced about all the "Cures all"-statements regarding elderberry syrup.

Relieves Flu Symptoms

Elderberry syrup seems to relieve flu symptoms and reduce the length of time the flu lasts when taken by mouth within 48 hours of the first symptoms, according to several studies.

The effect of the elderberry syrup seems to occur within 2 to 4 days of treatment for most people, according to statements from people that have taken the syrup.

Side Effects Of Elderberry Syrup

You don't need to pick them all!

There are some side effects that can occur when you take elderberry syrup. There is a toxicity risks that you need to be aware of before taking elderberry syrup. This due to the fact that the elderberry plant contains toxic elements. It’s also mildly diuretic, known to lower blood sugar and can cause an allergic reaction.

Always consult your physician before using elderberry syrup for any medicinal purposes.

Elderberries Are Toxic

There is a toxicity risk when taking elderberry syrup. All elements of the elderberry plant, including the roots, twigs, leaves, unripe and ripe berries and their seeds contain toxic elements. Only cooking and other forms of processing can render the berries safe for consumption.

All elderberry preparations you make at home has to be properly processed to make the elderberry syrup safe for consumption.

If you experience diarrhea, nausea, vomiting or feel sick after taking elderberry syrup or other products with elderberry, seek medical help immediately.

We've covered the toxicity of elderberry, flowers and the berries, in a lot more detail in an article if you're interested.

Diuretic, Laxative, Lowers Blood Sugar Levels

Elderberry syrup has a mildly diuretic and laxative effect. It can therefore put you at higher risk of dehydration.

It is also known to lower blood sugar levels. Be aware of this, particularly if you have diabetes. Too low blood sugar levels can be unsafe.

Elderberry Syrup Can Cause Allergic Reactions

Occasionally, elderberries cause allergic reactions. For example, rashes. Discontinue use if you have a mild allergic reaction, and seek medical attention if you have a serious allergic reaction.

Use Elderberry Syrup For No More Than 5 Days Straight

Despite the toxicity risk, allergies and other potential side-effect described it seems that consuming elderberry syrup have few side effects when used properly for short periods of time, up to five days.

Short-term use of elderberry extract preparations appears to be relatively safe; however, long-term toxicity studies are lacking. Some say that you can take elderberry syrup up to 12 weeks and some even claims that you should take the syrup all year round.

But there are no research to back up that claim. Research seems to support a period of 5 days as relatively safe when consuming elderberry syrup. The research does not support longer use of elderberry syrup.

Does Elderberry Syrup Go Bad?

Yes, elderberry syrup can go bad. If you make your own syrup you have to smell and take a small taste before using it. If you buy elderberry syrup look at the date stamp and have that as a guideline. But you still need to make sure that the syrup is okay before you use it.

It’s a good idea to always have a bottle ready throughout the year to help alleviate allergies, colds, and flus. But remember to check before using it!

Shelf life And Storage Of Elderberry Syrup

Elderberry syrup, when stored in a glass jar in the fridge, will stay good for approximately 3 months.

To increase shelf life, avoid drinking directly from the bottle.

Store the bottles away from light to preserve the antioxidants.

If you make your elderberry syrup yourself it won't contain any preservatives, this makes it important to keep your syrup in the refrigerator. Some of the brands that you can buy also lacks preservatives, so you need to keep it in your refrigerator. Check the label on the bottle for storage instructions.

How You Know If Your Elderberry Syrup Gone Bad

If the syrup turns cloudy, grows mold, smells or tastes stale, you need to dispose of the remaining product at once.

Freeze Some In Smaller Containers For Ease Of Use and Shelf Life

If you make your own elderberry syrup in large batches, consider freezing part of the finished syrup in smaller freezer containers for easy use.




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Is Elderberry Syrup Safe During Pregnancy Or While Breastfeeding?

If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, don’t use elderberry syrup. The research of it’s safety is lacking, so take the safe side and stay away from it. Better safe than sorry.

Surveys indicate that many use elderberry syrup during pregnancy and breastfeeding. However, there is currently not enough scientific evidence one way or the other.

Recommendations Against Using Elderberry Syrup During Pregnancy or Breastfeeding

Because elderberry syrup hasn’t undergone extensive research regarding its safety, the University of Maryland Medical Center recommends that women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not consume this herb.

A study published in The journal Frontiers in Pharmacology suggests that due to lack of evidence of efficacy and safety, health care personnel should not advice pregnant women to use echinacea or elderberry against upper respiratory tract infection. They conclude that their recommendation is not based on any findings of consuming elderberry having negative effects on the fetus but from the fact that there is a lack of data on it being safe.

Lack of safety data is therefore enough to recommend against using elderberry syrup during pregnancy.

Both beautiful and healing. Make syrup of them and fend of the flu!

Elderberry Concentrate Dosage

To help the immune system during illnesses, adults should take ½ tablespoon to 1 tablespoon of elderberry syrup per day, and children should take ½ teaspoon to 1 teaspoon.

Unfortunately, there are no recommendations of dosages from the research that's been done on the elderberry. So this dosage is whats considered the right amount to take by both people who make the syrup themselves and from manufacturers of some syrup brands.

Always consult your physician before using elderberry syrup for any medicinal purposes.

Elderberry syrup is similar to taking cough medicine however the properties cover more than just a cough. This can be used for adults and children as well as babies. But you need to be aware of the risks involved and always talk to your physician or pediatrician before giving elderberry syrup to your child.

Recommended elderberry syrup dosage for children

½ teaspoon to 1 teaspoon

Recommended elderberry syrup dosage for adults

½ tablespoon to 1 tablespoon

Elderberry Syrup Dosage For Toddlers

You should not give elderberry products to a child before consulting your pediatrician. Never give more than ½ teaspoon to a toddler.

Always consult a your physician before using elderberry syrup for any medicinal purposes.

There’s very limited research studying the effects of elderberry on toddlers. Most studies look at its benefits for adults. That is why you should proceed with caution if you want to give elderberry syrup to your toddler.

Elderberry Supplements Specifically Marketed For Children

Some elderberry supplements on the market are marketed specifically for children, but do not give toddlers or older children any product that contains elderberry unless it’s under the direction and supervision of a doctor.

Children are generally more sensitive than grown ups. Different medications or natural preparations may have unexpected effects on childen. What works for adults can be harmful for children. The same is true for elderberry syrup and other preparations which should not be given to children of any age without consulting a doctor first. A very dangerous side effect is an allergic reaction with anaphylaxis.

Children who have diabetes or a autoimmune disorder should never take any form of elderberry.

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Elderberry Syrup Dosage For Adults

Adults can take 1 tablespoon daily for five days straight. If you are feeling sick or have the flu, increase dosage to 1 tablespoon every 3-4 hours up to 4 times per day, but not longer than five days.

For sore throat treatment, use recommended daily dosage.

You can find several elderberry syrups for sale online. There is one brand that's very popular with a lot of customer reviews. I recommend you check it out here if you are interested of buying or just curious of what other people think of elderberry syrup available on Amazon#ad. For images and prices including availability in Amazon markets please go to our recommended page.

What Does Elderberry Syrup Taste Like?

Elderberries themselves are not sweet berries. They have a distinctive, musky flavor. The syrup becomes sweet because of the added honey. You could describe the syrups flavor as a strong musky flavor that rounds it with its sweetness.

Many people think that the syrup tastes great. If you like sweet, you'll definately like the taste of elderberry syrup. The honey gives the syrup a very sweet taste.

Children Usually Like Elderberry Syrup

You can find lots of testimonials from mom's that give elderberry syrup to their children and are surprised that it’s so easy to give it to them, that they actually like the syrup.

But of course, not everyone likes the flavor, some think its too sweet or tastes more like cough medicine.




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Elderberry Syrup Recipe Of Fresh Elderberries

It's relatively easy to make your own elderberry syrup, especially if you are lucky enough to live in an area where elderberries grow.

Elderberry Syrup

Here's a recipe for Elderberry Syrup that you can easily make yourself.

Category: Syrup
Cuisine: Berry

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 70 minutes

Ingredients (approx. 40 tablespoons of syrup)

  • 2/3 cup of elderberries (you can use dried, if you can't get a hold of fresh ones)
  • 3 1/2 cups water
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup of raw honey

Instructions

  1. Combine berries, water, and cinnamon in a pot
  2. Bring the mixture to a boil and reduce heat to simmer
  3. Simmer for about 50-60 minutes. The water should reduce down to about half the amount
  4. Strain mixture through a strainer or sieve
  5. Let it cool until the syrup is cold enough to touch
  6. Add honey and stir until the honey is dissolved

Now it's ready to help you and your loved ones to fend of the flu!

Substitute the raw honey for date syrup, maple syrup or coconut sugar if making this syrup for children under the age of 1. Children under the age of 1 should not eat honey because, honey can contain spores of Clostridium botulinum which may lead to botulism poisoning. Infant botulism is a life threatening condition.

The date syrup is a traditional whole sweetener that is highly nutritious, it’s safe for very young children and possesses anti-bacterial properties similar to raw honey.

It is very important to allow the syrup to cool before stirring in the raw honey (or date syrup). If you don't the heat will destroy the antibiotic properties.

If you are to pick your one elderberries for the syrup you have to ensure that you harvest only the berries, as the leaves and stems could be dangerous. The poison in leaves and stems can not be cooked away!

If you don't have easy access to elderberries and still want to make your own elderberry syrup, I can recommend this DIY organic syrup making kit#ad that you can find on Amazon. All you need to add is water and honey!

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Conclusion: Finishing Thoughts About Elderberry Syrup

I have always regarded elderberry syrup as medicine and haven't thought so much about its other uses.

But recently I've learned that people don’t just take it as medicine. No, some have it on their pancakes or waffles, some drink it with sparkling water or they even drizzle it over vanilla ice cream.

At the same time it's important to understand that elderberry syrup is not a juice. It is in fact much more potent. So I think that you need to be a bit more careful with the syrup. Especially when serving it to children.

The research I found about elderberry syrup have lead me to believe that if you use it properly for short periods of time, up to five days, it’s safe, but you should really be careful and refrain from over using it.

When I started my research for this article I had questions about this syrup and it's miraculous benefits. Now I know some uses of this miracle-concoction is supported by research and some are not.

I believe that elderberry syrup is a good supplement to use when feeling under the weather.

But in moderation.




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Frequently asked questions about Elderberry Syrup

Does elderberry syrup work?

Yes, it seems that elderberry syrup really works. Research show that black elderberries, which elderberry syrup is made of, are well known as supportive agents against common cold and influenza.

What is elderberry syrup good for?

Elderberry syrup is often used against flus, cough, cold, sinus infections, fevers, skin inflammation, allergies, ear and throat infections. Studies show that elderberry syrup is efficient in alleviating symptoms and reducing the length of viral infections such as the common cold or influenza A and B. It’s also efficient against sinusitis as well as reducing symptoms and speeding up recovery time. Elderberry syrup can also help to strengthen the immune system.

What does elderberry syrup taste like?

Elderberries themselves are not sweet berries. They have a distinctive, musky flavor. The syrup becomes sweet because of the added honey. You could describe the syrups flavor as a strong musky flavor with a distinctive sweetness. Be sure to not give children under the age of one any syrup with added honey.

Side effects of elderberry syrup?

Elderberries are toxic! Only cooking and other forms of processing can render the berries safe for consumption. If you experience diarrhea, nausea, vomiting or feel sick after taking elderberry syrup or other products with elderberry, seek medical help immediately. Do not serve elderberry syrup with added honey to children under the age of one.

Article written by,

Sara Niemelä

co-founder Care Omnia, Head Content Creator

Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), University Diploma in Educational Information and Communication Technology, Bachelor of Science in Social Work