Sunday, February 22, 2015

Elderberries to the Rescue

I guess it had to happen.  The crud.  You know the one.  The one my son gets each February and then is passed on to me as the primary cleaner of snot, maker of hot tea, in other words - Mom.  For the first time in MANY years he was not hit as hard as usual.  I believe it is because we have slowed our lives down by homeschooling which has allowed us to rest when we are ill without the stress of knowing we should be "somewhere".  Also, the focus on essential oil use with near constant diffusing and applications, the use of rich homemade broths and staying hydrated has also helped.  Just to add a little something extra in the healing department I ordered a large quantity of Frontier dried elderberries last week from Vitacost.  After a few days of not being delivered due to the ice storm hitting our area, it finally arrived!

Happy Happy, Joy, Joy!

Pinterest has been, of course, a great resource, but if I am discussing healing the body, I want to be very sure that what I am saying is correct or at least has some basis in science.   And, recipes vary slightly depending on which source you are using.  Many sources use cinnamon to enhance flavor, some list ginger as optional and some bloggers suggest adding essential oils. Below is my recipe to add to the many sources you will find on the web. 

Elderberry Syrup Recipe

1/2 cup dried elderberries 
3 cups water
1 cup local raw honey
1 tbs freshly grated ginger
1/2 tsp cinnamon

If sick take one spoonful in the morning and one at night.

Bring elderberries and water to a boil on medium high heat.  Reduce, cover and simmer for 
30 minutes.  Remove lid, add ginger and cinnamon and cook for an additional 15 minutes on
 low (no lid).  Remove pot from stove and allow to cool for 10 minutes.  Stir in honey until completed mixed.  Pour into 2 mason jars.  Add lid and store one in fridge and if desired, place
 the second jar in the freezer (or preferred freezer container) to be used as needed.   If you are freezing a jar of syrup, it must be completely cooled without the lid for one hour.  Also, you must leave at least one inch between the syrup and lid for expansion.  I find that placing jars on a wire rack is safer than placing on hard freezer surface to prevent cracking.  

You'll notice that I have NO GINGER in my photo though I do have it in the recipe.  As I pulled out all of my ingredients, as luck would have it, I had no ginger.  Not only did I have no ginger, but after being stuck at home for four days due to an ice storm, I also had no car keys.  My wonderful good samaritan husband dug my car out of the ice and accidentally pocketed not only his keys - but mine.  That's okay!  Many recipes do not call for ginger, so we forged ahead using the resources we had.  Let's talk about the ingredients and let's begin with the elderberry.  There are many sources available explaining on elderberries and their health benefits.  This one from the University of Maryland Medical Center tells us, 

"Elderberry, or elder, has been used for centuries to treat wounds, when applied to the skin. It is also taken by mouth to treat respiratory illnesses such as cold and flu. In many countries, including Germany, elder flower is used to treat colds and flu. Elder may have anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and anticancer properties."

A study from Purdue tells us that elderberries are filled with vitamins A and C as well as powerful antioxidants.  It also tells us that elderberries have been used for generations as folk medicine to treat sore throat, cold and flu.  Now we know a little bit about elderberry.  Why raw local honey and why ginger?   Many health experts such as Dr. Oz, Dr. Mercola and Dr. Axe sing the praises of honey. 

The two most important things honey does in this
 recipe  is helps boost your immune system and soothes
 coughs and sore throats. 

(We know honey has lots of other great uses as well!)  And, as the elderberries are slightly tart, it's nice to have something sweet to help it go down.  Finally, let's talk about the ginger.  Ginger is another immune booster and induces sweating which we all know if healthy.    It has,

"broad-spectrum antibacterial, antiviral, antioxidant, and anti-parasitic properties, to name just several of its more than 40 pharmacological actions.1 " (Dr. Mercola)
Now that you know the secrects of elderberries, honey and ginger and have reliable sources to support this centuries old folk remedy you are on your way to keeping yourself and your family happy and healthy as we wrap up these long winter days.  As for me, I have armed myself with as many wellness tools as I can while we wait out this winter storm and am dreaming of the return of the sun as I mark the pages of my newly arrived seed catalogs. 

"Everyone should be his own physician. We ought to assist and not force nature. Eat with moderation what agrees with your constitution. Nothing is good for the body but what we can digest. What medicine can produce digestion? Exercise. What will recruit strength? Sleep. What will alleviate incurable ills? Patience." ~Voltaire

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