ISSUE 5  |  Living Small

Flu Prevention: DIY Elderberry Syrup

February 04, 2015 2:30 PM

BY Erin Boyle

A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down? Make that honey.

For flu prevention, here’s a natural remedy that actually works. I’ve been making elderberry syrup every fall for the past few years, and I swear it’s magic. Widely used in herbalism as a flu preventative, elderberry syrup is filled with immune-boosting properties–not to mention antioxidants, potassium, beta carotene, calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin C. 

Best of all: making your own is truly simple. This is a DIY that won’t try your patience. 

Photography by Erin Boyle.

Above: Dried elderberries ready to be turned into medicine. I purchased dried berries from Mountain Rose Herbal; a 4-ounce package is $4.25.

Above: Use a sieve to smash all the juice out of the berries after boiling.

Above: Allow the liquid to cool completely before adding the honey so heat doesn’t damage the raw honey.

Above: Bottle the syrup in dark apothecary bottles. A 2 Oz. Amber Bottle is $1.50 from Mountain Rose Herbal.

Elderberry Syrup for Flu Prevention

Adapted from Mountain Rose Herbal


  • 1/2 cup dried elderberries (or 1 cup fresh)
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup raw honey
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 to 5 cloves


Place berries, spices, and water in a saucepan. Bring the ingredients to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for from 30 to 40 minutes until the syrup begins to thicken slightly. Remove from heat and strain liquid through a sieve, smashing the berries with a wooden spoon to release extra juice. Discard the berries and spices. Allow the liquid to cool completely and mix in raw honey. Divide into glass bottles and label. Keep the syrup refrigerated and take a teaspoon daily to ward off germs.

Elderberry Syrup is just one elixir that comes from the elderberry tree (remember Christine’s post about Elderflower Cordial?).

For more DIY natural remedies, see:

N.B.: This is an update of a post published on October 3, 2013 as part of Tree Huggers week.