Elderberries have been traditionally used to treat colds and flu for centuries. According to a systemic review elderberry has antiviral effects and can inhibit several strains of influenza A and B, renown for their anti-oxidant properties they help protect against oxidative stress and make a delicious syrup to help maintain health through the winter months.
Elderberry extract has been shown to be effective against a huge 10 strains of flu virus, and has also reduced flu symptoms to 3-4 days! The berries should not be eaten raw as they can induce sickness but are perfectly safe once cooked :)
As a tree Elder has a huge amount of associated folklore and tradition and has been made into a medicinal wine for many years. It's common name of Elder comes from the Anglo-Saxon aeld meaning fire as its hollowed stems were once blown through to get fires going, and it's Latin name Sambucus nigre is thought to trace back to Roman times with nigre pertaining to it's almost black berries.
It also has a history of use in magic, believed to protect against evil and attack if worn, but caution is needed if felling the tree with the words 'Lady Ellhorn, give me of thy wood, and I will give thee of mine when I become a tree' thought to protect against the anger of the tree dwelling spirit. Gypsies have been adverse to using Elder for firewood but magicians have used the wood for wands for centuries!
Thyme with it's wonderful aroma has antimicrobial properties that can inhibit the growth of bacteria, fungi, and viruses, you can make the syrup without thyme or without the chilli, which helps target the beneficial phytochemicals to the lungs, but they both make a yummy and beneficial addition!
3/4 cup dried elderberries, or two cups of fresh removed from the stalks
4 cups water
1 cup honey, you can use maple syrup for a plant based option
1/4 cup fresh thyme leaves or a few sprigs of dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
In a saucepan combine the elderberries, water, thyme and chilli flakes. Bring to a boil over high heat.
Reduce the heat to low and simmer gently for 30 minutes.
Remove from heat and let cool for 10 minutes.
Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve or muslin into a clean jug.
Add honey to the strained mixture and stir until dissolved.
Pour the syrup into a clean glass bottle with a tight-fitting lid. Remember to label!
Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 months.
Take 1 spoonful as required, or mix with boiling water for a delicious hot drink :)