How to Make Elderberry Syrup for Colds & Flu

Immune-Boosting Elderberry Syrup

When it comes to the common cold or mild flu, rest is all your doctor can prescribe. Luckily, Mother Nature has a few tricks up her sleeve to help ease your symptoms and shorten its duration — like this immune-boosting elderberry syrup.

It can be taken daily for helping prevent winter sickness or used during times of recovery. If you do start feeling sick, take the elderberry syrup as soon as possible to reap its cold and flu combatting benefits. It’s easy to make and much more cost effective than buying a pre-made syrup. If you’re having trouble finding elderberries, I get flash frozen ones from or Amazon.

Elderberry Studies

During the 1995 flu epidemic in Panama, the government used elderberries to help combat the illness. A study done in Panama during the epidemic showed “a complete cure was achieved within 2 to 3 days in nearly 90% of the [elderberry]-treated group and within at least 6 days in the placebo group.”

A 2004 study stated that participants’ “symptoms were relieved on average 4 days earlier and use of rescue medication was significantly less in those receiving elderberry extract compared with placebo.”

A 2009 study found oral elderberry extract to be “effective in controlling influenza symptoms and is complementary to current antiviral agents.”

A 2014 study looking at cold and flu symptoms in air travellers found that “placebo group participants had a significantly longer duration of cold episode days [than the those taking elderberry extra] and the average symptom score over these days was also significantly higher.”

Precautions and Interactions

While elderberries are a safe way to help children, adults, and seniors with cold and flu symptoms, there are a few precautions. If making for a child under one, use maple syrup or coconut syrup in place of the raw honey.

Raw elderberries should not be consumed as they can cause diarrhea and vomiting. It’s best to cook the elderberries well, like in this elderberry syrup recipe.

Consult with your naturopathic doctor before consuming elderberry syrup if you have an autoimmune disease or take medications for diabetes or chemotherapy. If you take other prescriptions like diuretics, immune-suppressing drugs, laxatives, and theophylline please check with your naturopathic doctor as well.

How to Make Elderberry Syrup for Colds & Flu

A immune-boosting remedy to help combat cold and flu.

45 minCook Time

45 minTotal Time

Yields 2 cups


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  • ¾ cup dried elderberries
  • 3 cups filtered water
  • 1 cup raw honey (sub for maple syrup or coconut syrup)
  • Optional Boosters
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 small knob fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 3 whole cloves, dried


  1. Add elderberries, water, and any additional boosters to a pot. Bring to a boil and reduce to low. Simmer for 45 minutes until the water has been reduced by half.
  2. Pour elderberry syrup through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl using the back of a spoon to press any extra liquid out of the berries.
  3. Allow the syrup to cool slightly before stirring in the raw honey to protect its beneficial properties. Use a whisk to make sure the honey is well combined.
  4. Transfer for a sealed glass jar (like a mason jar) and place in the fridge for up to two weeks. You can also freeze some for later use.
  5. See notes for dosage.


For prevention... Child dose: ½ - 1 teaspoon. Adult dose: ½ - 1 tablespoon for adults. During cold or flu, take your regular dose 4x a day until symptoms resolve.

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