Last year, I started using elderberry syrup for cold and flu prevention. I was skeptical at first, but this natural remedy works! I started reading up on how to make it at home because it can get a little (actually very) pricey. Homemade elderberry syrup can be made for a fraction of the cost, and you also get to control what goes into it.
I saw quite a few recipes online and settled on one that works for us. It makes enough that we can take a spoonful every day to help boost our immune systems. So when cold and flu season hits, we’ll be prepared.
Elderberries and thyme are age-old remedies for colds, flu, and sinus infections.
High in vitamin C and other antioxidants, elderberries are important for healthy immune function. These action-packed little fruits contain components that talk to the immune system, sending messages to fight infection (source). A study of elderberry extract used in patients with the flu demonstrated a startling improvement in their symptoms compared to controls (source).
Thymol, a substance found in abundance in thyme, has antiseptic properties and works particularly well as an antifungal and antimicrobial agent. In colds and the flu, it can be helpful by stimulating the mucous-producing cells of the respiratory tract to secrete more and move it on out. Its expectorant properties make it a good cough medicine (source).
Fresh berries and herbs can be used in the cooked form, but I used dried berries and thyme in this recipe because they were more available. It’s imperative to note that fresh elderberries should not be consumed, as they may be poisonous.
If you’re using fresh berries, they must be cooked with water first. Also, just to be safe, discuss with a healthcare provider before giving the homemade thyme-elderberry syrup to children. It may interact with some medications, so it’s a good idea to check first. We haven’t had any issues, but take note!
How to Make Elderberry Syrup
Place 1 cup dried elderberries in 1 quart of filtered water. Bring to a simmer.
Add the thyme, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves (NOT the honey!) Cook over low heat for about 20–30 minutes, or until the liquid has reduced by half.
If you have access to fresh elderberries, use double the amount and proceed with the process as instructed.
Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve, pressing on the solids to release as much of the liquid as possible. Discard the solids.
Let the liquid cool completely. Mix in the raw honey and stir to combine. Transfer to a jar and keep refrigerated.
How to take Elderberry Syrup
To use preventatively, take once a day. Give 1 tablespoon for adults; 1 teaspoon for older kids; and 1/2 teaspoon for toddlers. Take 2–3 doses per day when sick. Do not give to infants under 1 year of age.
DIY Make Your Own Elderberry Syrup
- Medium saucepan
- Place water in a saucepan and add dried elderberries. Bring to a simmer and add thyme, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves. (Do not add honey yet.)
- Cook until reduced by about half. Strain through a fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth and let cool completely.
- Stir in raw honey and place in a jar in the fridge. Will keep for several months.
This article was medically reviewed by Dr. Gina Jansheski, a licensed, board-certified pediatrician who has been practicing for more than 20 years. Learn more about Hello Glow’s medical reviewers here. As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.34