Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Cold, Flu, & Preventive - Elderberry Echinacea Syrup

Elderberry Echinacea Syrup
About all the ingredients in elderberry-echinacea syrup.
Elderberry: A study done in 1992-1993 in Israel showed that black elderberry treated/cured flu symptoms faster than Tamiflu. Elderberry contains a litany of healthful properties (including antioxidants, tannins, vitamins A, B, and C, flavonoids … and the list goes on), which could help strengthen the immune system. But it’s best known for knocking out the flu right when it starts, so it’s important to take it immediately upon having symptoms (if you’re not taking daily supplementation).  While there’s no research to back up the claims that elderberry, taken regularly, can prevent the flu, there’s research all over the place stating that it effectively helps quash it when it starts.
Echinacea:  Like elderberry, the research just isn’t there yet supporting echinacea as an effective preventative supplement for the cold and flu. However, even the National Institute of Health admits that it’s shown to be quite effective when taken immediately upon experiencing symptoms of the cold or flu. They even state that it’s used effectively to treat: urinary tract infections, vaginal yeast infections, genital herpes, bloodstream infections (septicemia), gum disease, tonsillitis, streptococcus infections, syphilis, typhoid, malaria, and diphtheria.
Honey: Favorite. Home. Remedy. Ever. Nothing beats honey for a cough (in fact, it’s  been shown to be more effective at soothing coughs than cough medicine itself). It’s also, of course, wildly antibacterial. And a fun little fact? Studies show that honey is as effective of a preservative as EDTA (a questionable preservative widely used in food). When I read this today, I wept with joy.
Cinnamon: Not only does cinnamon help control your blood sugar and blood pressure, it’s been historically used to treat the cold and flu. It’s approved by the German Health Authorities approve cinnamon for treating gastrointestinal distress and stomach spasms. The inspiration for including in this syrup (not only for WILDLY delicious taste) was this blog post about cinnamon/honey syrup as a home remedy for colds.
Ginger Root: SO well known for defeating nauseousness, ginger root may not only treat your symptoms of stomach yuckiness, but it may very well help beat your other symptoms, as well. It’s, by far, one of the most popular medicinal herbs – and again, it tastes absolutely amazing in this syrup.

Elderberry-Echinacea Syrup Recipe

  • 1/2 c. dried elderberries (or 1 cup fresh)
  • 2 Tbsp dried echincacea (it’s perfectly fine to open an echinacea tea bag and use that)
  • 1 Tbsp dried ginger root (or 2 Tbsp fresh ginger root)
  • 1-2 cinnamon sticks, broken in half
  • 3 c. distilled water
  • 3/4 c. raw honey
It’s important to use distilled water, just so you know. Because your tap water (and even most filtered water) already contains small bits of bacteria, heavy metals, and other untoward things that may “taint” your syrup. And you want your syrup to last at least a month – if not two to three months.
Distilled water. It’s what’s for home remedies.
Now that you have all of your ingredients (except the honey) in the pot, turn the burner to medium. Wait a while. Eventually you’ll start to see a simmer.
Now turn the burner as low as you can, while still maintaining a small simmer, and leave the whole thing alone for 45 minutes (or until the liquid has reduced by half).
Stir occasionally, and smush the elderberries around with the back of your spoon to release their healthy goodness.
Once your liquid is at about half as much as you started with, you need to strain all of the ingredients from your almost-done syrup. For this use a French press, a cheese cloth, or a very fine-mesh sieve.
Push all the liquid out that you can
Now you should have pretty clean, non-leafy, dark brownish-red liquid. It will smell good, but it’s not quite done yet. If you tried to drink it at this point, you’d probably look like a duck for a few minutes.
Let your liquid cool for about 10-15 minutes. It needs to be cool enough not to harm the honey’s delicate healthful properties, but still warm enough to dissolve all the honey within. Again, 10 minutes should be just fine. While you wait, rearrange your spice cabinet.
Once you have your warmish-coolish liquid, add it in your desired jar with your honey and stir. Stir it up, because now you’re done.

Keep this in your fridge, tightly covered, for up to two months, and take it when you feel like you need it. Remember, I’m no medical professional. But if it were me, I’d take 2-3 teaspoons a day (or maybe even a bit more) at the first sign of a cough, cold, or icky feeling.
Adapted from http://www.crunchybetty.com/your-natural-medicine-cabinet-elderberry-echinacea-syrup-recipe

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