I need a remedy, yeah, for what is ailing me, ya see...

Yes I was a child of the 90's and I loved The Black Crowes. Even though Chris Robinson was talking about a 'different' kind of remedy, I still thought the sentiment was appropriate for this occasion.

It is that time of year, after the holiday madness has softened and before the sprouts of Spring commence, when cold and flu season ensues.

Even the healthiest among us can get caught in the grip of the cold or flu virus. If you have children or work in public offices, you are being exposed hundreds of times to the virus. And depending on the shape of your immune system which is affected by many things like the food you eat, how much sleep and exercise you are getting, and the source of all imbalance, stress, you will either be resistant to the virus or it may bring you down. 

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One of the easiest and simplest ways to combat a cold or flu virus is with the herb Sambucus nigra commonly known as Elder.

Elder is the most popular herbal cold remedy in Europe used for thousands of years by grandmothers and mothers to treat the cold and flu. It is safe for children and super tasty so the wee ones won't even know they are taking 'medicine'. It is so good, my girlfriend's toddler asks for it! Now if that isn't an endorsement on its flavor, I don't know what is!

The medicinal properties of elder are many but most appropriate for this topic is it's anti-viral and anti-catarrhal activity.  (And we are talking about the elder berries not the leaves and flowers which have other medicinal properties.) Anti-viral herbs are herbs that attack viruses which make it past your immune system defenses and into the cells and blood stream of the body causing symptoms like congestion, coughing, sneezing, headache, fever and chills. Anti-cattarhal herbs are herbs that reduce mucus production alleviating pressure, runny or stuck mucus and headaches. So as you can see this one herb tackles much of what is symptomatic of a cold or flu. 

The best way to take elder is in the form of a syrup. There are many companies at your local health food store that make elderberry syrup but it is so easy to make at home. *If you do choose a store bought brand, make sure there are no artificial flavors, colors or refined sugars. The syrup should have less than 5 ingredients all being names you can pronounce.

To my elderberry syrup recipe I add a few other helpers to get the job done swiftly: Echinacea purpurea commonly known as echinacea and Thymus vulgaris commonly known as thyme.

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Echinacea, like Elder, is an antiviral herb which also stimulates acute immune activity.  So it boosts your immune system to work more efficiently to fight off what is attacking you. And thyme is an antispasmodic which helps reduce the body's desire to cough incessantly. So this trifecta will holistically support your body's ability to heal itself.

Next time you feel a tickle in your throat or soreness in your muscles grab your Elder syrup and watch how like magic, your body heals itself.

Elderberry Thyme Echinacea syrup

1 cup fresh or ½ c dried elderberries

3 tbs dried echinacea root

1 tsp cinnamon chips (optional)

3 sprigs fresh thyme

3 cups pure water

1 cup raw honey

Place the berries, echinacea, cinnamon (if using) and thyme along with 3 cups pure water in a saucepan. 

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Bring to a light boil, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 30-45 minutes or until the water is reduced by half. 

Remove the thyme sprigs and mash the berries with a mallet or back of a spoon until all the berries have been crushed. 

Strain the plant matter in a cheese cloth or fine holed colander into a bowl. ( You may want to put on gloves for this part unless you do not mind purple-ish hands.)  Let cool for about 10 minutes before adding the honey. *You don’t want to lose the medicinal properties of the honey by adding it to a hot liquid. 

Pour into a **sterilized jar and place into the refrigerator for 2-3 months. 

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* Heating honey kills its medicinal properties

** You can easily sterilize a jar by boiling it in water for 10 minutes. Remove with tongs form water and allow to cool before you fill it.