I must first say that I am not a medical doctor or an herbalist. While this post may be educational in nature, I must disclose that I am simply a mother. This is what works for us — you should do your own research.
Now that we have that out of the way, I would like to tell you about elderberries, specifically Sambucus nigra. Elderberries are known for fighting the influenza virus, H1N1, helping keep the immune system functioning properly, and many other things. Elderberries are high in vitamin C, and contain a moderate amount of vitamin A, vitamin B6, and iron. They are also a mild anti-inflammatory.
Israel has been doing various studies on elderberries and the findings are surprising.
Mumcuoglu, who is president of Razei Bar, first tested her research on patients in the Southern Israel flu epidemic of 1992/3. The results were extremely encouraging. Within 24 hours, 20% of those patients taking Sambucol had dramatic improvements in symptoms like fever, muscle aches and pains and coughing. By the second day, 73% were improved and by day three, 90%. In the untreated group, only 16% felt better after two days. The majority of that group took almost a week to begin feeling better.
In 1995, laboratory studies were carried out at Hadassah, which showed that Sambucol was effective against human, swine and avian influenza strains. –Source
There are several different types of elderberries. For this purpose we want Sambucus nigra, which are edible when fully ripe. Most elderberries are toxic and should not be eaten raw, once cooked they can be made into jams, jellies, or even drinkable juice. Sambucus nigra is the exception to this, but the berries must be fully ripe. For tincture making, don’t cook your berries and discard berries once strained.* Always avoid red elderberries as those are toxic, cooked or not.
Making elderberry tincture is really easy. Don’t let the idea intimidate you, because the process is simple!
What You Will Need
- elderberries (dehydrated or fresh)
- glass pint or quart jar
- vodka (80 proof at minimum)
- mesh strainer, tea towel, or old clean t-shirt
- funnels (optional)
- dark colored bottles
- brown paper bag
- In your pint or quart jar, fill your jar half full of elderberries.
- Fill jar with vodka, leave 1 inch head space, cap jar and give a good shake to the chorus of ‘Jump in the Line’ by Harry Belafonte or ‘Shake it Up’ by The Cars.
- Label jar for contents and date, place in a brown paper bag and set in a dark cool area for 4 to 6 weeks.
- Once infusion time is up, strain through a fine mesh strainer, tea towel, or old clean t-shirt. Discard the berries.*
- Now you have a tincture! Pour into clean, sterile, dark colored bottles. No dark bottles? Don’t fret, use a clean, sterile pint jar. Just place the jar back into a paper bag to shield the tincture from light.
When you feel your immune system is compromised or you’re coming down with the flu or a cold, take 1 teaspoon of elderberry tincture 3 times a day. Tinctures can be rough to take straight. Dilute the tincture in 8 ounces of water for easy drinking.
Giving tincture to children? Place a teaspoon of tincture in hot water (think hot like for herbal tea). This will evaporate the alcohol. Once cool, give to the child to drink.
*Some folks eat the Sambucus nigra elderberries raw as these are not toxic when fully ripened. I personally chose not to do this, and I discard them. If you’ve researched it and feel safe eating them, rinse your berries after tincture making and add to oatmeal or granola.
Do you make elderberry tincture? What tips or advice would you add?
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