Elderberry Tincture {with herbs}

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.

Elderberry Tincture with Antiviral Herbs - Elderberries 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, but can also be preserved and dosed as a 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:

ingredients to make herbal elderberry tincture for colds and flu

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.

elderberries in a stainless steel funnel and strainer

Directions to make elderberry tincture:

  1. Fill the jar about 1/4 of the way, if using dried elderberries, or 1/2 of the way if using fresh berries.
  2. (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.)
  3. Add a few pinches of antiviral herbs in the jar, if you’d like.
  4. 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.)
  5. Use a chopstick or knife to gently stir and release any air bubbles; add more alcohol if needed.
  6. Cover with a lid, label, and tuck in a dark cabinet for 4 to 6 weeks, or longer.
  7. Strain and pour the elderberry infused liquid into glass jars or bottles.

Shelf life is at least one year, or longer.

jars of elderberry tincture and a basket of fresh elder berries


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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  1. Pingback: Homemade Elderberry Syrup
  2. Could frozen elderberries be used in place of fresh? Also could the tincture be made with glycerin?

  3. This sounds wonderful – I will make it as soon as I return home from vacation :).
    I love your blog – your recipes are wonderful. Thank you also for the soap mini-course – I’ll let you know how my first soap turns out soon!
    Thank you so much for all your great ideas!

  4. Since this wouldn’t be good for those under 21. Do you have a suitable recipe for young ones?

      1. Yes, our naturopath told me when my kids were little that the amount of alcohol in tinctures was less than some cough syrups since they’re dosed so low. My toddlers, now teenagers & young adults, took them with no negative effect at all. :)

        1. Yes….I agree my 6 all took the tincture without any problems. Such a tiny dose (dropperful) in about 1/4 c juice. Tincture lasts so much longer than syrup and doesn’t need to be refrigerated. More bang for your buck. Couldn’t be any simpler to make.

  5. Pingback: Elderberry Vinegar Honey Caramels Recipe {+video}
  6. Do you find this to be equivalent to Elderberry syrup in preventing, fighting, and recovering from cold and flu?

    I like that a tincture is much more shelf stable then the syrup.

    1. Hi Bridgette! I like that you can dose the tincture in lower amounts & that it lasts longer, but I tend to favor the syrup most of the time. It’s probably more because it’s sweeter & I get better compliance from my family when I pull it out for them to take though!

    1. Hi Felicia! You have to eat the seeds for them to become problematic. Don’t crush the seeds when making the tincture & be sure to strain the tincture once it’s finished, so you don’t eat the seeds. :)

  7. So the alcohol from the vodka doesnt kill out and cyanide properties?

    1. Hi Felicia! No, you can’t really kill cyanide. However, it’s a lot of work to extract cyanide from seeds; it’s not something that happens with a tincture, especially if the seeds stay whole and uncrushed.
      Here’s a little info on what you’d need to do just to extract cyanide from fruit seeds, as you can see it’s not something easy to do!
      Just don’t eat the elderberry seeds no matter which way you prepare your elderberry products – syrup, tincture, wine, etc & pick off any little stem bits before using the elderberries & it will be good to go! :)

  8. Hi! I’m wild foraging my elderberries but they ripen at different times. Most of my picked berries are red not purple. You mentioned “fully ripe”. Can I make a tincture out of almost-ripe berries? Or do these need to be cooked (ie into a syrup?) Would appreciate your input! Thank you!

    1. Hi MD! I wouldn’t use the red or unripe berries in syrup or tincture. They need to be fully ripe with no red left on them. It’s best to pick through the berries that are available and only gather the ones that are fully turned. (Instead of just clipping off big clusters.) :)

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