Truth: I have many favorites. But elderberry is clearly on the very top of my list.
My initial experience with elderberries was as a food in the form of syrup. I used it as a flavoring for plain yogurt, as pancake syrup and in place of honey. These are simple ways to incorporate the firepower of this amazing antiviral berry into your families’ winter menu. Many herbalists and other practitioners think of elderberries as an herb. In addition to being widely available as a syrup (to be kept refrigerated), it is also available in a variety of other preparations, such as capsules, powder and gummies. All forms are good. It’s simply a matter of personal preference. I love elderberries so much that my kitchen pharmacy is stocked with all forms.
So, what’s all the well-earned buzz about these deep purple-black berries?
They are rich in vitamin C and quercetin (more on this below) and contain a variety of vitamins and minerals, including zinc and magnesium. You will see vitamin C, zinc and magnesium are each on my essential immune nutrient list. Elderberries reduce inflammation and contain potent antiviral compounds. They have been shown in clinical studies to combat infectious bronchitis and may
help to prevent an infection from progressing to pneumonia. There is an extensive body of research supporting the immune regulating properties of elderberries, and I consider them to be an essential component of my first line of defense for all things related to winter
wellness. Think of elderberries as a daily shield of protection during times when viruses are going around. It can be confusing to navigate the selection of products out there.
My students have taught me there is no single form that’s right for everyone. Many adults love the gummies. That’s okay; the most important thing is to use a form that’s going to be used as needed. If the candy-like taste of the gummies works for you, then that’s fine. I love the formulation of some elderberry gummies that provide the added antiviral benefits of additional vitamin C and zinc in small amounts. The syrup is flavorful but comes with a serving of sugar. Capsules are easy, and the powder can be used to enhance water. Using the powder to make tea is my favorite preparation because it provides a tasty way to bathe your cells in antiviral elderberry goodness all day long.
Each company has a different method for detailing the information related to the elderberry content and dosing of their product. Some products will include the term “standardized” on the label, but this level can change after the product has sat on a shelf. Instead of confusing you with all the laborious details I’m going to provide the names of companies I trust. When using a reliable company, you can feel safe following their dosing recommendations.
You can also double the dose if extra immune support is needed. During these times, your body may provide clues that you are coming down with something, such as an itchy throat, slight congestion or fatigue. I recommend using elderberries every other day preventatively when a virus is circulating in your community. Use them daily if you have a high level of exposure—like teachers during the winter or when you need to boost immune function when you have been near a sick person.
Remember, my viral strategies are all about getting ahead of the virus and not allowing it to gain a foothold in your body. It is for prevention and taking back your power by being prepared with a few items in your kitchen pharmacy. Just in case you didn’t know – the common cold, the flu and many respiratory infections are caused by viruses.
Products I Love:
• Gaia Herbs Immune Shine. This powder includes elderberries, mushrooms and ginger, making it a great immune-support blend. See my next post for my Immune Shine tea recipe.
• Gaia Herbs Black Elderberry (syrup or capsules)
• Gaia Herbs Black Elderberry Extra Strength Immune
• Nature’s Way Sambucus is an elderberry gummy that also
contains zinc and vitamin C for extra immune support,
which is a simple way to include other essential immune
nutrients that are difficult to get enough of through