Blue Elderberry

The flu is now widely in circulation and quickly going into people’s lungs. This is not only inconvenient and uncomfortable but can also cause dangerous prolonged and harsh coughing spells that can elevate blood pressure in some. As well, coughing easily spreads flu through the air, especially by those who don’t cover their mouths.

However, there’s a great herb that treats the flu – elderberry. Because elderberries are anti-viral, they prevent, treat and shorten the duration of colds, flu, fever, and cough. As well, they are delicious in syrup form and so easy for children to take. Elderberries may be juiced and sweetened as a refreshing beverage. The dried berries have a characteristic fruit/nut flavor and can be reconstituted and then substituted for raisins in cooking. They can also be made into vinegar, wine and sweetened preserves.

Treating and Preventing the Flu with Elderberry

I’ve seen people get over the flu within days to a week when taking anti-viral herbs like elderberry, while others may experience it for two weeks with the cough lasting weeks or months after.

The next time you feel a cold or flu coming on, or if you already have one, drink 1/4 – 1/2 cup elderberry, yarrow and lemon balm tea with a slice of fresh ginger and take a very hot bath for 10-20 minutes (shorter if a child; longer if an adult). Get out, wrap up in several blankets and let yourself sweat. Continue to drink the tea 3-4 times a day. For coughs, take elderberry syrup regularly throughout the day.

Even better, take elderberry preventatively. By taking some elderberry every day, you can escape getting the flu all together. You’ll even notice that when others get sick, you don’t, or if you do get the flu, you’ll more quickly get over it.

Of course to prevent the flu completely it helps to use these tricks:

  • Wash your hands frequently
  • At the very first signs of a cold or flu do a nasal wash (neti) with salt water
  • Simplify your diet and cut back on immune-lowering foods such as sugar and alcohol
  • Get plenty of rest
  • Take elderberry!

Elderberry Fact Sheet

Dosage: infuse 10-15 crushed berries in 1 cup water; take 4 oz BID-QID. Syrup: 1 Tblsp TID-QID; 20-40 drops tincture

Caution: Unripe or uncooked elderberries may be poisonous


  1. Colds, flu, fever, cough

Commentary: The berries of Sambucus nigra were found in a 1995 study to be an effective treatment for the H1N1 flu virus. There are no effective medical treatments for influenza type A and B virus. However, in vitro extracts of black elderberry were found to be effective on all strains of influenza virus. A small study published in 2004 showed that 93% of all patients given black elderberry extract were completely symptom-free within two days, as opposed to those taking a placebo, who recovered in six days. The commercially available elderberry-based syrup Sambucol possesses similar antiviral, immunoprotective and immunostimulatory properties.

Elderberry “Rob”

elderberries, fresh, crushed       5 pounds

brown sugar, raw (or honey)      1 pound

Put berries in pot with enough water to cover. Simmer slowly for 15 minutes, strain and press. Add brown sugar or honey. Evaporate in a double boiler to the thickness of syrup. Pour into a wide-mouthed jar that has been heated. This is taken as a cordial, aperient and diuretic. One or 2 tablespoons mixed in a little warm water at night promotes perspiration and is demulcent to the chest and lungs.

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