Have you tried immune-boosting elderberries to fend off illness? Find out more about this tasty way to stay healthy this season!
This cold season has been a doozy for our family. Our eldest entered the public school system in September, and that onslaught of new germs has meant a constant battle to fight off colds. Mostly I’ve managed to keep them at bay, but there’s only so much you can do when a 5-year-old and a 3-year-old are sneezing in your face and using your sweater as a tissue. (We’re working on it.)
Scores of people swear by elderberry products to help them stay healthy, and some studies have backed up their claims. Will elderberry concoctions keep you from ever getting sick? Probably not, but they may help you fight some off or shorten the duration and severity of those you do come down with. You don’t have much to lose with elderberry tea — this is a tasty, inexpensive, low-waste option, especially if you already enjoy fruity tea.
You can buy elderberries in the bulk section of many natural foods stores, and when you bring your own container, you eliminate virtually all the waste from your tea habit. (You can also buy elderberries by the pound online, which will last your family a very long time.) Either way, you get to skip all the bags, and cup for cup this is a lot cheaper than most herbal teas.
Making the tea is simple: just add a teaspoon of berries to one cup of hot water and steep. I like mine plain, but my kids prefer it sweet, so we add honey to theirs when they have the sniffles.
I keep a tea mug with a built-infuser handy for brewing multiple cups of elderberry tea from a couple teaspoons of berries (you can rebrew till it’s too weak to bother with). I try to sip some whenever I feel like my body’s trying to fight something off. Christina at The Hippy Homemaker ups the immune-boosting ante of her tea with a bunch more herbs thought to help immunity; try her recipe here.
Other ways to get elderberry into your cold-fighting routine:
Elderberry syrup. You can buy pre-made syrup or make your own from the bulk elderberries mentioned above. This will save you quite a bit of money, especially if you take it often. Here’s a recipe from Chrystal from Happy Mothering and another from Brittany at The Pistachio Project (brilliant resource-saving idea: she also reuses elderberries from her syrup to make tea). Jess at Simply Healthy Home adds apple-cider vinegar to hers, and Christina The Hippy Homemaker adds some other goodies to her syrup for extra punch. TJ at Measuring Flower has a slightly spicy version if you’re after something a little different.
Chrystal has also developed an elderberry gummy for her kids. Jess at Simply Healthy Home has a recipe that includes some other immune boosters as well. We’ve made them a bunch, and kids and grown-ups alike think they’re a really way tasty way to stay healthy!
Elderberry-zinc tablets. Here’s the most cost-effective option if you choose this route. But there are many others (and it may very well be the zinc in these tablets helping your immune system; research thus far is inconclusive.) Here are some options without zinc.
Elderberry is also sold in capsule form. I prefer to go the food route, but everyone’s different.
Grow Your Own ElderberriesIf you have some space in your yard, you could even grow your own elderberrries. They’re beautiful and cold-hardy and will add edibles to your landscape, always a plus if you’re on a mission to live greener. And of course growing your own will save you money and connect you to your food. (Just be sure to follow guidelines about safe handling of elderberries, which need to be cooked prior to consumption.)
Want to know more about sneaking elderberries and other delicious edibles into your landscape? Angela England has great ideas for you in her new book, Gardening Like A Ninja.
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Photo credits: Bless Pictures (via Flickr), HealthyGreenSavvy, Simply Healthy Home, Happy Mothering, John McLinden (via Flickr)
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