Feeling run down? Boost your family's immune systems with elderberry syrup {a kid-friendly remedy!}

Published on
Written by Courtney Uyeshiro

We love this guest post by Jennifer Roth, Founder of Birds and Bees Teas! If you follow Milk It on Instagram, you will know we are big fans of this tea - my girls and I drink Family Immunity Tea every time we feel a cold coming on or feel a bit run down. We add a little honey and the girls call it “honey tea.” It fills our house with a delicious berry smell and almost instantly makes us feel better and helps us fight off our colds.

Jen says, flu season (that germ-y time somewhere between October and May) is no fun and it hits some families harder than others. While there is no real cure for the viruses that seem to spread like wildfire, there are many at-home preventative tips and ways to boost your immune system and provide some natural defenses against the nasty flu bugs. Our favorite? Homemade elderberry syrup.

Boost your immune system

One of our absolute favorite immune boosting herbs is elderberry and the most effective DIY cold and flu remedies we’ve found is a simple recipe for elderberry syrup. (See our recipe below.) Elderberry (Sambucus nigra) is a popular healing plant that’s often sipped as tea or made into syrup to fight flu, colds and upper respiratory infections.

Boost your immune system

Elderberry flowers are known for stimulating perspiration when sipped as a tea. Rosita Arvigo, a traditional healer and creator of Maya Abdominal Therapy, suggests this tip when you feel cold or flu symptoms coming on: Prepare a hot herbal tea of elderberry flowers and peppermint leaves, sip the tea while sitting in a very hot bath, then get into bed wrapped in very warm covers with a heating pad at your feet. According to Arvigo, this will help the body bring on an artificial fever, where the body’s heat will help destroy viruses and the body’s perspiration will help the body cleanse toxic waste.

Boost your immune system

The flavonoids found in elderberries have an immune boosting and antiviral effect on the common cold and flu. They are also high in vitamins A and C. And they have an anti-inflammatory effect on the respiratory system. When decocted into syrup, they can help break up mucous secretions and calm a chest cold and cough.

DIY Family Immunity Elderberry Syrup

{Adapted from Rosemary Gladstar’s recipe for elderberry syrup}

Makes about 2½ cups


1 cup elderberries {or use our Birds & Bees Family Immunity Tea, where elderberry is the star ingredient but immune boosting and flavorful cinnamon and goji berries also play a healing role}

3 cups water

1 cup local honey*

*There is concern of honey causing Botulism poisoning in children under 12 months, so please ask your pediatrician before giving your baby honey. Agave nectar can be substituted for honey for those of us with little ones under 12 months.


1. Place elderberries or Family Immunity herbs in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring the water and herbs/berries to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer over low heat for 30 to 45 minutes.

Boost your immune system

2. Smash the berries or herb/berry mixture before straining through a fine-mesh strainer. The liquid should have reduced by about half, so you’ll have about 1½ cups. Discard or compost the steeped herbs.

Boost your immune system

3. Let the liquid cool a bit and while it’s still warm (but not hot), stir in the honey until dissolved.

adding honey to elderberry syrup

4. Bottle and label the syrup and store it in the refrigerator. It will keep for about 3 months.

bottling elderberry syrup

How to use:

Give ½ teaspoon to 1 teaspoon to kids and 1 to 3 tablespoons to adults once a day at the onset of any cold and flu symptoms. If the flu or a cold does set in, take the normal dose every 2 to 3 hours instead of once a day until symptoms disappear.

elderberry syrup stirred into yogurt

{elderberry syrup stirred into yogurt - yum!}

Homemade elderberry syrup looks and tastes way better and more natural than any drug store cough syrup or cough drop. Your little ones will love it and even your significant other will be hard pressed to turn their nose up at it. And you certainly don’t have to be sick to enjoy the healthy syrup. In fact, the version made with our Family Immunity herbal tea blend is so tasty that you could pour it over pancakes, stir it into yogurt or use it to sweeten your hot or iced tea. You could even consider doubling your batch of Family Immunity Elderberry Syrup and give jars to friends for a thoughtful and healing holiday present!

Birds and Bees is generously offering our readers a discount on orders on their website with code: Milk14 for 20% off - so stock up (you can buy it in bulk!) your pantry and bolster your immune system!

What are your favorite tips for staying healthy during flu season and boosting your immune system?


milk it, LLC creates Milk It Kit™ - the Back to Work Survival Kit for Breastfeeding Moms. Purchase the Milk It Kit™ and refill milk labels at www.milkitkit.com. Milk It™ and Milk It Kit™ are trademarks of milk it, LLC © 2012. All Rights Reserved.