Wash your hands.
Wear your mask.
Stay home if you are ill.
Get fresh air.
Take your supplements.
The reminders are constant; almost overwhelming. Because this year especially we are all on high alert to stay well. Right now it seems many are living in a precautionary state while actively pursuing ways they can both avoid and slow the spread of illnesses like COVID-19 and other viruses that tend to increase during the winter months.
So what can you do to overcome illness and boost your personal and family’s immunity?
There is a growing chorus saying, “Elderberry!” Many folks absolutely swear by it.
Lots of supplements get endorsed for a lot of reasons, so we took a look at why people are turning to elderberry. There are both studies and anecdotal evidence that seem to confirm its efficacy from decreasing days of illness to boosting overall immunity.
“We take elderberry gummies and Vitamin D as recommended by our naturopathic physician,” shared Heidi Duncan, a mom of one who works in the insurance industry, “I haven’t had so much as a cold in years.” Many others agree, myself included, the proof is in the pudding – elderberry is a valuable and proactive supplement when it comes to staying healthy.
What is Elderberry and How Do You Take It?
Elderberries grow on the Sambucus tree. They are very small, blue and black in color, and for centuries have been harvested by herbalists for their wellness properties.
Once mature and cooked, elderberries are safe to consume. Eating the berries raw can induce nausea and other symptoms. Therefore, the most popular way to ingest elderberries is in boiled liquid form that becomes a syrup alongside other ingredients like honey, clove, ginger root, and cinnamon. Elderberry supplements can also be bought or made into gummies, capsules, and lozenges. So, taste test brands and experiment in your own kitchen..
This study from 2010 found that elderberry has both antiviral and antioxidant properties which explains how it aids in winter wellness. And this study indicated that influenza symptoms are shortened when elderberry is part of the sick person’s healing regimen.
Both studies conclude that more research is needed, but point towards positive indicators. And there are some indisputable benefits of these elderberries. They are full of vitamin A, potassium, vitamin C, folate, calcium, iron, and fiber. That’s a lot of nutrients in one small berry.
How Do I Get Started?
First, decide if you are going to purchase or make your elderberry products at home. You can order syrup and gummies from brands such as Zarabees, Gaia, and Nature’s Way on Amazon or pick up options at your local Target or the grocery store.
You can also make your own like Traci Vogt, a mom of three and an active wellness advocate within her community. She gives elderberries to her entire family all throughout the winter. “ Not every day, but most,” she said, “I make my own in the Instant Pot! I feel like it’s another tool in our wellness toolbox.”
You can follow a recipe like this one from Wellness Mama to make your own elderberry syrup or purchase a ready to make kit from places like Etsy. The main perk of a kit is that you usually add your own local honey to the recipe which further boost the properties of your supplement since local honey is also indicated as an aid in fighting allergy symptoms.
Of course, consult with your doctor first to make sure the berry is safe for you. There are some circumstances, like in cases of overactive immune systems, where elderberry is not recommended.
Most brands and recipes recommend taking 1 teaspoon by mouth daily. Children ages 1-3 should take just ¼ teaspoon. Some love the flavor, it’s both tart and sweet, think along the lines of cherries or cranberries. For others it is an acquired taste.
Cheers to a hopefully healthier and happier winter! Teaspoons up!
Gretchen Bossio is a homeschooling mom of four from the Pacific Northwest. Writing has always been one of her favorite pastimes so she takes great joy in moonlighting as a freelance writer covering topics such as parenting, wellness, education, fashion, and travel.