Wednesday, November 3, 2010

It's Official: The Cold and Flu Season is Here

My family has an unfortunate tradition. As soon as the seasons change, one or all of us comes down with something. We never know if it’s going to be a minor cold, sinus infection, or lay-you-out-on-the-bathroom-floor flu. So while I eagerly anticipated the blessed relief from the smothering heat and humidity of the Southeast in summer (can you tell I’m not native to the area?), I also felt a bit of trepidation with each cooler evening.

Last week our number came up. My hubby and I both came down with a minor flu, luckily not too debilitating, but just bad enough to make daily life a challenge. And while I’m glad that my kids dodged the bullet, there were points when I wished that there was a little less of that 3 and 5 year old energy around the house.

With kids going back to school and cooler weather driving us indoors for more time each day, most people will come down with the cold or flu during the fall and winter seasons. We can work preventatively by eating nutritious foods, getting enough exercise and sleep, but sometimes it’s just not enough.

Our plan of attack is always about the same. Tea until we can’t even look at tea anymore, tinctures until we have maxed our dosage, herbal steams, soups, Vitamin C, you name it. Our nasty flu hung on for about a week, and finally it hit me that I hadn’t made my Elderberry Elixir! This concentrated syrup made from elder berries has worked miracles for my family, and I wasn’t disappointed this time either. Within a couple of days, I was healed and able to deal with all the energy that comes with two little ones, two dogs, two snakes, and a big tank full of fish!

Here’s the Recipe:

Elderberry Elixir

-4 oz Elderberries (about ½ cup)
-1 Cinnamon Stick
-1 tblspn Ginger
-3-4 sticks of Astragalus
-2 cups Water
- 1 cup Honey


1. Mix ingredients (minus the honey) in a small saucepan
2. Bring to low boil. Then, simmer covered until reduced by half (about 20 minutes).
3. Strain through mesh strainer or cheesecloth
4. Add Honey
5. Enjoy!
***Store in glass jars refrigerated for up to 2 weeks

As always, be sure to consult your health care practitioner, and do your own research on any herb or supplement you plan on putting into your body.

I’ve had friends tell me it makes them feel like Mary Poppins giving out meds it’s so delicious! So take a spoonful and stay healthy this season!

~Kristin Henningsen, M.S., C.H., R.Y.T.
Adjunct Professor


Behty said...

Thanks Kristin, this is great!

I first heard about Elderberry when I was working at the Integrative Medicine Clinic at Evanston Northwestern Hospital in Chicago. I was part of the Oriental Medicine team. Our chief physician did a presentation on Elderberry - she is an MD and also trained with Andrew Weil at the University of Arizona Integrative Physician program. Turns out that there has been a lot of research, mostly coming from Israel, about Elderberry and it's immune enhancing function.

Ever since that talk, whenever I've started getting sick, I go and get Elderberry, and each time it has been fantastic. Thanks for the post!

Betty Harrison

Kristin said...


You're absolutely right that there has been a lot of research on this particular herb! It contains large amounts of antioxidants, potassium, beta carotene, calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin C (Skidmore-Roth, 2010). Definitely one to have in the medicine cabinet!

Skidmore-Roth, L. (2010). Mosby's Handbook of Herbs and Natural Supplements. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier Mosby.

Anonymous said...

Hello Kristin, I must say thank you! My 19yr old son recently developed the croup. He suffers from this every winter. I know how horrendous this ailment can be and went in search of this post. When I read this back in November I made a mental note to research and try this elixer. The research I found was great, therfore, I made a batch for my son. His croup improved the very next day which is awesome considering he usually suffers for 15 to 20 days with it. Here it is day 5 with two days taking the elixer and he is almost completely better! Thank you for your recipe.

Kelly Soper

Post a Comment

About Me

Kaplan Center for Health and Wellness
View my complete profile