The flu is nothing new and either is folk medicine. One in every ten people will suffer from the flu each year and of those, an estimated one million people die. This week, according to the CDC, flu activity is widespread across the map. It has changed little since December of 2019.
Of course, in addition to the flu we're all used to seeing every year, we now have the new strain of coronavirus or COVID-19 to contend with. This week's statistics reported by the CDC are shown here:
To protect my family from the flu for the past twenty years, I have always used two things: Echinacea and Elderberry Syrup. When my kids were small, if one of them got sick, I would give them Echinacea and then I would give everyone in the house Elderberry Syrup to prevent it from spreading. By doing this we avoided unnecessary visits to the pediatrician's office and putting others at risk and we sure didn't miss getting prescriptions filled. These natural remedies need no referral or prescription!
Echinacea is a natural antibiotic extracted from the echinacea flower. According to legend, the Native Americans learned of the healing properties of echinacea after observing that when wild antelope were sick, they foraged for echinacea in the forest.
You can find Echinacea at your local health food store or have it delivered to your home from Amazon. There are several varieties to choose from. Echinacea with Goldenseal is very potent and good to take when you are sick. A more mild, orange-flavored version for children is also available. In my house, we always keep the standard Echinacea Oil in the medicine cabinet. Echinacea Capsules are also available.
While antibiotics are ineffective against viruses such as the flu and coronavirus (COVID-19), elderberries, or "sambucus nigra", are known to have "a potent direct antiviral affect against the flu virus". [Source] Tests have proven that the phytonutrients in elderberry juice are effective in significantly strengthening the immune system and preventing the flu virus from infecting cells. Furthermore, it inhibits propagation of the virus in cells in various stages of infection. It might be wise to take a spoonful a day during the present "pandemic"!
Years ago, when I first learned about elderberry, I bought Sambucol for my children. Then, my father suggested I make my own and gave me a recipe, shown below. I bought a pound of dried elderberries on Amazon for a reasonable price and have been making my own ever since. It's easy and definitely a more economical option. The best time to stock is when they are in season. A one-pound bag could probably supply you with a year of elderberry syrup. This recipe makes about 16-ounces of syrup and prep time only takes a total of about 5-10 minutes.
2/3 cups dried black elderberries, (or 1 cup fresh or frozen), clean with no stems or leaves
3 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons ground ginger
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup (or up to 1 cup) raw unfiltered honey (depending on your taste preferences)
First, pour all the ingredients, except the honey, into a medium sized saucepan. (1.5 quarts or larger).
Bring it to a boil and then turn it down to low.
Cover the pot and simmer on low for about an hour, allowing the syrup to reduce and thicken.
Then, turn the heat off and allow it to cool in the pan about 20-30 minutes.
When it has reached lukewarm or room temperature, use a metal, mesh strainer, to filter out the berries and cloves. Mash or press down on the berries to squeeze as much juice out of them as possible. Discard the mashed berries.
Add the honey (or substitute with maple syrup) to the liquid mixture and stir well.
Pour the syrup it into a clean jar and refrigerate. I use plastic condiment bottles, which I find very convenient for storing and dispensing the syrup.
The syrup has a shelf life of 2-3 weeks in the refrigerator or several months in the freezer.
Shake well before each use. (Beware! This juice stains!)
As a preventative supplement, especially during cold and flu season, children can take up to 1 teaspoon of elderberry syrup per day and adults can take up to 1 tablespoon per day.
When sick, the dosage can be taken every three hours instead of once a day. An herbalist or doctor can address any concerns you may have.
I am not a doctor. This blog is based on my personal research and experience and should not replace the advice of a doctor. Results may vary. If you are severely ill, please don't hesitate to contact your doctor!