Debbie whitehead, M.Ed., LPC




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Debbie whitehead, M.Ed., LPC

Homemade Elderberry Syrup


Homemade Elderberry Syrup

If you are looking for a “magical” fruit this year to help you combat cold and flu symptoms, the elderberry may be just the one you are looking for. I’ve been so curious about this fruit. Over the past couple of years, as cold and flu season approached, I’ve heard how this richly colored, deep purple fruit wards off cold and flu symptoms.

I have several friends who make elderberry syrup for their families each year when cold and flu season begins. I thought it was about time I investigated this fruit for myself, and I wanted to share my findings with you.

Can One Fruit Keep Us from Getting a Cold, or Even Better, the Flu?

Medical News Today, on October 9, 2018, put out an informative article about the health benefits of the elderberry. It cleared up a lot of questions that I had. It cited several studies showing that elderberry has medicinal benefits that could, in fact, reduce our cold and flu symptoms. It is promoted as an immune booster because of its high antioxidant levels but it has been difficult to prove this in studies. In every study I looked at, it stated that more studies were needed. What every study seemed to have in common was that when taking elderberry, cold and flu symptoms dissipated quicker and were not as severe in length of days when elderberry was consumed.

Elderberry Has Been Used Throughout History

First, when researching elderberry, you can see that it has been used all throughout history. Hippocrates, the “father of medicine” described the plant as his “medicine chest.” It was considered a holy tree in the Middle Ages. Native Americans used elderberry for medicinal purposes, and it is very well known in the study of folk medicine.

What Makes Elderberry Special

The beautiful elderberry coloring comes from anthocyanins, flavonoids that are powerful antioxidants. On the ORAC scale (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity), elderberries have a value of 14,697. In reference, wild blueberries have an ORAC value of only 9,621 and blackberries have an ORAC score of 5,905. This means that, as antioxidants, this fruit has the capacity to fight oxidative damage that occurs in our cells on a pretty high level.

Elderberry fruit is high in fiber, vitamins A and C, and minerals like potassium and calcium. These nutritional qualities make them excellent for strengthening the immune system (vitamin C), helping with skin conditions like acne and wrinkles (vitamin A), and constipation (fiber). These qualities, in turn, may impact heart health, high blood pressure, and many cancers. I’m beginning to think this is a magical fruit.

Do Not Eat Raw Elderberries

If you purchase elderberries, always cook them before using in a culinary or medicinal recipe. Some people have an allergic reaction to elderberry with severe symptoms. Do not eat them raw.

How to Make Elderberry Syrup

You can purchase elderberry syrup in a liquid or gummy chew form, but you can also make your own. It is a little messy thanks to its beautiful color, but I promise you, it is so worth it. I love making things in my own kitchen because I can control the quality of the ingredients that I use.

Here is what you will need to make this syrup:

  • 4 cups cold, filtered water
  • 2 cups organic dried elderberries (you can purchase from Amazon or Mountain Rose Herbs)
  • One organic cinnamon stick (or 1 teaspoon organic cinnamon powder)
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated organic ginger root or organic ginger powder
  • ½ teaspoon organic cloves
  • 1 cup raw, local honey or agave syrup if this is a vegan recipe
  • 1 cup vodka or brandy—this is optional
  • Pot for boiling
  • Plastic funnel
  • Cheesecloth
  • Mason jar
  • Food grade gloves (optional)

In under an hour, you will have an entire jar of elderberry syrup that will help prepare you and your family for cold and flu season. And don’t throw away the leftover elderberries after you have made your syrup. My husband and I love drinking elderberry hot tea. I keep what is left and for the next couple of weeks we are able to use it for brewing hot tea. It’s delicious!

How Much Elderberry Syrup Does One Need to Take

The normal dose for taking elderberry syrup for prevention is ½ to 1 teaspoon for children and ½ to 1 tablespoon for adults, if you are having cold and flu symptoms, take these amounts every 2-3 hours until symptoms go away.

Please note: I am not qualified to give medical advice. Please consult with your physician before you, your child, or anyone in your family takes elderberry syrup.

If you are pregnant or nursing, it is important to seek medical input from your physician before taking elderberry syrup.

I have made elderberry syrup for several years now and my family and I take it as a cold and flu prevention. When I first started looking into the health benefits of elderberry, I was not convinced that I would be making elderberry syrup. After researching it, I was convinced. I’m a strong advocate of living a healthy lifestyle. Eating real food, whole foods in their purest form, is something I get very excited about. Elderberry fits in to this philosophy. With its high nutritional value and ORAC scale value, I see many benefits to consuming elderberry. I think strong immune health is more than just adding elderberry to your diet. I think it’s important to eat healthy, but I also believe it’s important to focus on other factors like stress reduction, exercising, and getting quality sleep all throughout the year, but especially during cold and flu season.

Homemade Elderberry Syrup


  • 4 cups cold, filtered water
  • 2 cups organic dried elderberries (you can purchase from Amazon or Mountain Rose Herbs)
  • 1 organic cinnamon stick (or 1 teaspoon organic cinnamon powder)
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated organic ginger root (or organic ginger powder)
  • ½ teaspoon organic cloves 
  • 1 cup raw, local honey (or agave syrup if this is a vegan recipe)
  • 1 cup vodka or brandy—this is optional


  1. Put the elderberries, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and cold water in a pot and bring to a boil.
  2. Reduce heat and simmer for 30-40 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat. If you used a cinnamon stick, remove it now and mash the berries in the pot
  4. Strain the berries and spices through a piece of cheesecloth, squeezing out the liquid.
  5. Pour the liquid back into your pot. Add honey or agave syrup and gently heat your mixture. It’s very important that you do not let it come to a boil.
  6. Turn off heat and allow to cool for a few minutes. Add your alcohol, if using.
  7. Store in a sterilized glass jar in your refrigerator for up to three months.

Recipe Notes

*This recipe is adapted from Mountain Rose Herbs.

My personal notes when making elderberry syrup:

  • You may want to use food grade gloves when straining the berries and spices. The fruit will stain your hands.
  • Be aware: this recipe is a tad messy, and the fruit could also stain your countertop, cloths used, your hands (if not wearing gloves), etc. It’s so worth it though, I promise!
  • I used a sterilized 32 ounce glass Ball mason jar and my elderberry syrup fit perfectly.

With love,


Debbie Whitehead is a licensed professional counselor (M.Ed, LPC), certified personal trainer (CPT), and certified nutrition coach. She owns a practice in Plano, Texas where she helps clients break free from trauma and live a beautiful life – mind, body, and soul.


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About Debbie

Mom, counselor, business owner, wellness obsessed, and lover of deep conversations. Welcome to my Blog, where I share recipes and resources to help you boost your mental health and live a beautiful life.




Mental Health




I’m a Licensed Professional Counselor (M.Ed., LPC), Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) and Certified Nutrition Coach with over 28 years of experience.

In my private practice, I’m committed to providing couples, families, and individuals of all ages with support, empathy, and professional tools to build better habits, excel in their careers and relationships, and improve their overall mental health.

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