Elderberry syrup is a popular herbal remedy that is often used to help support immune health. It is made from the berries of the elderberry plant (Sambucus nigra), which contains compounds like anthocyanins that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties (1). Many people choose to make their own elderberry syrup at home using elderberries, sugar or honey, and water. However, when it comes to dosage, there is some uncertainty about how much homemade elderberry syrup to take on a daily basis.
Suggested Serving Sizes
Most recipes for homemade elderberry syrup suggest taking 1-2 teaspoons (5-10 mL) per day for general immune support (2). The exact dosage can vary based on the concentration of the syrup, as more concentrated preparations may require smaller doses. Some sources recommend taking 1/2 to 1 teaspoon (2.5-5 mL) for children and 1-2 teaspoons (5-10 mL) for adults (3).
For acute needs, such as cold and flu symptoms, the dosage may be increased to 1 tablespoon (15 mL) for adults and 1-2 teaspoons (5-10 mL) for children every 2-3 hours (2, 4). Higher doses up to 4 tablespoons (60 mL) per day have also been suggested, but it’s best to consult a healthcare practitioner before exceeding the standard dosage recommendations (3).
It’s important to note that commercial elderberry syrups may have standardized concentrations and dosing instructions that differ from homemade preparations. Always follow the recommended dosage on the label when taking store-bought brands.
Factors That Influence Dosage
There are a few factors that can impact the ideal dosage when taking homemade elderberry syrup:
The concentration of elderberries used to make the syrup can affect the potency. Syrup made from concentrated elderberry juice or extract will likely be more potent than infusions made purely from water and elderberries. Less concentrated preparations may require slightly higher dosages.
Frequency of Use
Elderberry syrup can be taken daily for general immune support during peak cold and flu season. Some people may choose to use it more sporadically or take regular breaks. Less frequent use may allow for higher individual doses. However, it’s best not to exceed the recommended upper limit.
Lower doses are often recommended for children, while adults can tolerate slightly higher amounts. Elderly individuals or those with compromised immune systems may also require adjusted dosing under medical supervision. Always check the safety for your particular age group before using elderberry syrup.
Your overall health condition should factor into the ideal elderberry syrup dosage. Those with health conditions like diabetes, autoimmune disorders, or pregnancy/breastfeeding should exercise caution and follow medical guidance. In some cases, elderberry syrup may not be recommended at all if it could interact with medications or exacerbate underlying issues.
How the elderberry syrup is prepared can impact its potency and quality. Properly strained and stored syrup is less likely to cause adverse reactions. Always follow trusted recipes and guidelines when making your own elderberry syrup at home.
Potential Side Effects and Safety
When taken appropriately, elderberry syrup is generally very safe for most people. However, there are some potential side effects and considerations:
– Diarrhea or upset stomach – High doses can act as a laxative. Reduce the dosage if diarrhea occurs.
– Allergic reactions – Uncommon, but those with berry allergies should use caution. Discontinue use if any allergy symptoms appear.
– Herb-drug interactions – May interact with diabetes medications, immunosuppressants, diuretics, and others. Consult your doctor before using.
– Raw berry safety – Unripe, raw elderberries contain a toxic compound and should always be cooked before consuming. Only use properly prepared syrup.
– Contamination – Bacteria in homemade syrup can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea if not properly prepared and stored.
To be safe, always start with a low dosage of elderberry syrup and monitor your body’s response. Speak to your healthcare provider before use if you have any medical conditions or take medications. Do not exceed recommended dosages without medical guidance. And remember, elderberry syrup should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care.
When to Take Elderberry Syrup
The ideal time of day to take your elderberry syrup depends partly on why you are taking it:
– General immune support – Any time of day is fine to help maintain overall immune defenses. Many people enjoy taking it in the morning or with breakfast.
– Acute cold/flu – For symptoms, it can be helpful to take every 2-3 hours during the day up to 4 times daily. Take with food if stomach upset occurs.
– Traveling – Consider taking a dose before and during travel to bolster immune function in crowded spaces.
– Daily maintenance -Aim for consistency and stick with either morning or night to maintain levels in the body.
You can adjust the timing as needed, but try to avoid taking it right before bedtime as high doses can have a diuretic effect. Overall, elderberry syrup is very flexible and can be incorporated into your routine at any time of day. Just be sure to follow dosage guidelines based on your needs.
How Long Does It Take Elderberry Syrup to Work?
Many people wonder how quickly they may feel the benefits once they start taking elderberry syrup. Unfortunately, there is limited research on exactly how long it takes elderberry syrup to provide immune support. However, some sources suggest:
– Preventative support – May take 2-3 weeks of consistent use to build up immune-enhancing effects. Ongoing daily use is likely optimal for maintenance.
– Acute relief – Can provide more immediate symptom relief from colds/flu within 3-4 days if taken properly at higher doses. Effects likely related to symptom management rather than shortening duration of illness.
– Travel use – Taking it in the days leading up to and during travel may offer some preventative protection against picking up illnesses.
– Children – Some evidence children’s cold symptoms may improve more rapidly within 2-3 days. Early intervention could help moderate severity.
Keep in mind results can vary substantially by individual. The general immune-supporting benefits likely take time to accrue with ongoing use. But for symptom relief, positive effects may become noticeable more quickly when dosing is optimized. Pay attention to how your body responds over time.
Elderberry Syrup Recipes
Here are some simple recipes for making your own elderberry syrup at home:
Basic Elderberry Syrup
|Fresh or dried elderberries
|Honey or maple syrup (optional)
|1/4 to 1/2 cup
1. Place elderberries and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 30-45 minutes until softened.
2. Remove from heat and mash berries to extract more juice. Allow to cool slightly.
3. Strain mixture through a cheesecloth or fine mesh strainer, pressing berries to release liquid. Discard solids.
4. Stir in honey or maple syrup to taste if desired. Add cinnamon, cloves or ginger for extra flavor.
5. Transfer to an airtight glass container and store in the fridge for up to 2 months.
Elderberry Extract Syrup
For a more concentrated preparation, try using elderberry extract instead of just the berries:
|Honey or maple syrup (optional)
|1/4 to 1/3 cup
1. Add elderberry extract to a small saucepan with the hot water. Stir to dissolve.
2. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly before adding sweetener if desired.
3. Transfer to an airtight glass jar and store in the fridge for up to 2 months.
4. Shake well before each use. Start with 1/2 teaspoon daily for this more concentrated preparation.
Spiced Elderberry Syrup
This recipe incorporates warming spices for extra immune support and flavor:
|Fresh or dried elderberries
|1/4 to 1/2 cup
1. Simmer berries in water with spices for 30-45 minutes.
2. Mash berries, strain out solids, and stir in honey.
3. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 2 months.
The spices add extra antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant effects. Feel free to adjust amounts to taste.
Should You Make Elderberry Syrup With Fresh or Dried Berries?
Elderberry syrup can be made using either fresh or dried elderberries. Here is a comparison:
– Fresh elderberries:
+ Have more juice and liquid so require less added water
+ Provide bright, fresh flavor
– Have a short harvest season in late summer/early fall
– Spoil quickly and must be used right away
– Dried elderberries:
+ Are available year-round for convenience
+ Are more concentrated so use smaller amounts
+ Allow longer syrup shelf life up to 1 year
– May require reconstituting in hot water first
– Impart a darker color and deeper flavor
Both fresh and dried can be used successfully. Fresh berries provide the truest flavor, while dried are easier to source off-season. Combine fresh and dried to harness both qualities. Or make large batches of syrup with dried berries to enjoy all year.
Should You Refrigerate Elderberry Syrup?
Properly storing your homemade elderberry syrup is important for safety and maintaining potency. Refrigeration is the best storage method. The low temperature helps slow degradation of the active compounds and prevent microbial growth.
Here are some elderberry syrup storage tips:
– Keep refrigerated after making – Refrigerate your finished syrup right away in an airtight glass jar or bottle.
– Use within 2 months – For best quality and effectiveness, aim to use up refrigerated syrup within 2 months.
– Freeze for longer storage – Elderberry syrup can be frozen for up to 1 year. Thaw in fridge before using.
– Avoid room temperature – Storing syrup unrefrigerated at room temp can allow more rapid spoilage. Only keep out while actively dosing.
– Check for signs of spoilage – Look for any mold, odd smells, changes in texture, etc before consuming. Discard if anything seems off.
Following proper storage in the refrigerator or freezer ensures your homemade elderberry syrup maintains its safety and activity for regular immune health use.
Does Elderberry Syrup Go Bad?
Yes, elderberry syrup can go bad eventually if not stored properly. Signs your homemade syrup may have spoiled include:
– Visible mold
– Fermentation bubbling
– Sour or unpleasant smell
– Change in consistency and texture
– Loss of rich color
– Crystallization of sugars
Discard syrup immediately if you see any odd changes that indicate fermentation or spoilage. Always inspect before use.
Properly stored syrup lasts:
– Refrigerated: Up to 2 months
– Frozen: Up to 1 year
To extend shelf life, practice good food safety:
– Use clean equipment and sterilized jars
– Strain out elderberry solids after simmering
– Allow syrup to cool fully before bottling
– Store promptly in the fridge or freezer after making
– Keep airtight container away from light during storage
– Never leave unrefrigerated for prolonged periods
With appropriate handling and storage, homemade elderberry syrup can remain fresh and effective for regular use. Discard batches if you have any concerns about safety or quality.
Can You Freeze Homemade Elderberry Syrup?
Freezing is a great way to extend the shelf life of homemade elderberry syrup. Properly frozen syrup can maintain quality and potency for up to 1 year.
To successfully freeze elderberry syrup:
– Let finished syrup cool fully after making – Avoid freezing piping hot syrup to prevent jar breakage.
– Pour into freezer-safe containers – Use glass jars, plastic containers, or ice cube trays designed for freezing. Leave headspace to allow for expansion.
– Label jars with date – Mark date of production so you know how long it’s been frozen.
– Seal tightly – Lid or cover container well to prevent freezer burn. Use airtight bags if using plastic.
– Freeze for up to 1 year – Syrup will remain stable frozen for up to 12 months.
– Thaw in fridge before using – Gently reheat to reliquefy if needed after thawing.
– Avoid freezing and thawing more than 1-2 times – Multiple freezes may degrade consistency, potency, and flavor.
With proper handling, freezing extends elderberry syrup freshness. It provides an easy way to enjoy homemade syrup year round.
Homemade elderberry syrup is a traditional remedy that may help support immune health, especially during cold and flu season. When making your own syrup, a dosage of 1-2 teaspoons (5-10 mL) per day is commonly recommended. Exact dosage can vary based on the syrup concentration, individual factors like age and health status, and whether it’s being used for immune maintenance or acute symptoms.
Pay close attention to preparation methods, proper storage in the refrigerator or freezer, and signs of spoilage to ensure your homemade syrup is safe and effective. While elderberry syrup is generally very low risk, be aware of potential side effects and interactions. And remember to consult your healthcare provider with any concerns when using elderberry syrup or other herbal supplements. With responsible usage, homemade elderberry syrup can be a convenient and natural addition to your wellness routine during winter months.