Elder trees are one of my favorite herbal allies and are deeply respected in European folk tradition. Elder is traditionally used to ward off evil spirits and the trees are said to grow at the gateways to the fairy realm. Folk lore warns against falling asleep under an elder tree, as you might wake up with the fairies! The flowers of these important trees make a delicate tea that helps reduce fevers, the wood has been traditionally used to make wands (Albus Dumbledore had a powerful elder wand in Harry Potter), and the berries make a divine tasting syrup. On a recent herb walk in Glen Canyon Park, I was thrilled to find many elder trees growing in the midst of the city. As we move into cold and flu season, I felt called to share this favorite herbal remedy with you as it is key to any cold and flu prevention routine. Elderberries contain a high amount of Vitamin C, are anti-viral, and an essential component of the home herbal apothecary. The recipe for my version of elderberry elixir follows and includes a tasty combination of immune boosting, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory herbs including ginger, lemon, hibiscus, cinnamon, star anise, and reishi mushroom. This elixir is easy to make and will last for at least a year (probably more) due to the preserving benefits of the brandy and honey.
Elderberry Elixir Recipe:
In a 16 oz. wide mouth mason jar combine:
¼ cup dry elderberries (Sambucus nigra)
1/8 cup dried elderflowers
Peel of 1 lemon
4 star anise pods
½ Tbsp. dried hibiscus flowers
2 cinnamon sticks
2 inches fresh ginger root, sliced
4 dried reishi mushroom slices
Fill jar ½ to ¾ full with herbs, cover to top with Brandy, and cap tightly. Keep in a cool, dark place for 4-6 weeks and shake daily. I like to start and finish a batch on the full moon for extra medicinal magic.
Once the 4-6 weeks is up, strain out the plant matter, add approximately ½ cup honey to taste, bottle and store in a cool dark place (preferably the refrigerator in amber glass bottles). Share with friends and family to foster resistance to fall/winter sickness.
Use: Best if kept refrigerated and shaken well before each use. Take 1 dropper per day either straight or mixed into warm tea to build immunity and prevent cold symptoms. Especially effective for use right before and during airline travel to aid the body in acclimating to less sleep, extra germs, and different time zones. At the first sign of illness (the slightest throat tickle, runny nose, or cough), bump up the dosage to 1-3 droppers, 3 times per day. Also works great as a syrup to drizzle over ice cream or pancakes and as a sweetener for tea.
Purchase Senses of Place Elderberry Elixir here>>