Elderberries (Sambucus nigra) are a fantastic home remedy for colds and flu and are backed by both science and traditional use.
They’re often turned into a sweet and tasty syrup, like homemade elderberry syrup made with honey, but can also be preserved and dosed in other ways, including this elderberry tincture.
I chose to add a handful of herbs to my elderberry tincture to give it an added antiviral boost, but they’re completely optional.
Antiviral herbs you may want to add to include:
- bee balm (Monarda sp.) flowers
- lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) leaves
- thyme (Thymus sp.) leaves & flowers
- sage (Salvia officinalis) leaves
- echinacea (echinacea purpurea) leaves & flowers
- hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis)
Ingredients needed for tincture:
- dried or fully ripe fresh black elderberries, without stems
- 80 to 100 proof alcohol for dried berries, 120 proof (if possible) for fresh berries
- canning jar
- herbs, optional (see list above)
Organic dried elderberries can be purchased from Mountain Rose Herbs.
Directions to make elderberry tincture:
- Fill the jar about 1/4 of the way, if using dried elderberries, or 1/2 of the way if using fresh berries.
- (I don’t do this, but if you’re concerned about using uncooked berries, you can gently heat and stir fresh berries in a small saucepan for about 10 to 20 minutes before adding them to the infusing jar.)
- Add a few pinches of antiviral herbs in the jar, if you’d like.
- Add vodka, drinking alcohol, or Everclear to the jar until it’s almost filled to the top. (Fresh berries contain a lot of moisture, so it’s helpful to use the higher proof alcohol with them. Dried berries can benefit from the higher water content of 80 proof alcohol.)
- Use a chopstick or knife to gently stir and release any air bubbles; add more alcohol if needed.
- Cover with a lid, label, and tuck in a dark cabinet for 4 to 6 weeks, or longer.
- Strain and pour the elderberry infused liquid into glass jars or bottles.
Shelf life is at least one year, or longer.
This varies depending on the size of the person, but a traditional tincture starting point for an adult is 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon (1.25 to 2.5 ml) elderberry tincture, taken several times per day.
For my family, I mix just a few drops of tincture into a spoonful of honey to make it pleasant to take. You could also add it to a hot tea, to help the alcohol evaporate, or try dropping a drop or two into ginger ale.
If you’re pregnant, nursing, on medication, or have any health concerns or questions, please consult a qualified health care provider before using herbal home remedies such as this one.
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