Sunday, November 1, 2015

Future Intensives Announcement

After careful consideration, we have made the very hard decision not to teach our France Herbal Intensive in 2016. 

While we love welcoming herbal students to the Provence region, we are both currently over committed and would not be able to give this special week the attention it deserves. 

We hope to offer this again in later years. 

We are sorry for any disappointment this may have caused. It was a very difficult decision for both of us. 

We will leave the waiting list sign up in the right hand corner. If you are interested in hearing about future courses with us, please feel free to sign up. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Plants in France Course Was Amazing!

Photo by Ashley Parkinson

In the last week of May 2014, 19 students from six different countries arrived in southern France for an unforgettable week of intensive herbal information and beautiful Provencal culture. 

Christophe and I had a wonderful time sharing our clinical pearls in the classroom and getting to know so many fascinating individuals. 

We've decided to run this course again in 2016. If you would like to be notified when more information about the trip becomes available, please sign up on the waiting list below. 

And just in case you don't want to take my word on how wonderful this course was, Ashley graciously wrote this review to share with you. (And since a photo is said to convey a thousand words, I'll include some of those as well.) 

I really think I could live here!
A cute home in the ancient village of Oppede le Vieux

I thoroughly enjoyed my time in the Plants in France course. No matter the level of education this course provided something for everyone. There was in depth discussions on disease, anatomy and physiology, how to take a pulse and read the iris, and plenty of classes on learning about which herbs that are best suited for different diseases and ailments. 

Christophe teaching advanced medicine making

There was also plenty of time to get out and see the country side. There was a great mix of field trips to the local shops and markets, sightseeing the gorgeous countryside, getting plenty of opportunities to sample the local cuisine, and best of all being with a group of people with similar interests and enthusiasms for herbs and France. The instructors were so generous with their hands on classes, answering questions, and taking us through the country showing us plants, and going into depth about their uses and benefits. 

Flowers with the beautiful village of Rousillon in the background

I would highly recommend this course for anyone interested in herbs, France (and really delicious French food), taking a proper pulse, reading the iris, and lots of learning about how the body and herbs best interact with each other to benefit the body being able to thrive.

- Ashley Parkinson, NY

Ashley with the hills of Provence in the background

We hope to see you in our
2016 Plants in France course!

Monday, February 24, 2014

We have ONE spot available!

As of February 24th we have one spot available (women only) in the Plants in France course. It is available on a first come basis. 

To learn more about the course click here. 

Lodging is in a beautiful traditional Provencal home and is a twin bed in a large loft with five other students. Because this is a shared room the opening is for women applicants only. 

The cost of lodging is around 200 Euros for the entire week. 

If you are interested, please email Rosalee as soon as possible to register. 

If you have any questions about the course please don't hesitate to email.  

Friday, November 22, 2013

What we'll explore

Christophe and I have just gotten off a Skype call and we've solidified our schedule for our week-long herbal intensive! 

Besides discussing the schedule we also discussed exactly what we'll be covering. 

Both of us are in complete agreement that we will be sharing very practical information about how to use herbs with people. Our goal is for our students to walk away from this experience with solid information so they can better understand herbalism and how to get the best results. 

We agreed, nothing wishy-washy! All information will be from our own personal and clinical experience and most of this information is not found anywhere else in books or online. 

Want to learn more about the herbal intensive? Visit this link. 

2:00-3:00 introductions
3:00 - 6:00 introduction to herbalism/energetics
6:00-7:30 dinner
free night

9:00 - 12:00 intakes/case studies
12:00 - 2:00 lunch
2:00 - 6:00 plant walk (1,000 year old Roman trail)
6:00 - 7:30 dinner in Fontaine de Vaucluse
7:30 - 9:00 top tips for running your clinic 

9:00 - 11:00 tongue and pulse diagnosis
11:00 - 12:00 iridology 
12:00 - 2:00 lunch
2:00 - 6:00 diagnostic skills practice 
6:00 - 7:30 dinner
free night

9:00 - 12:00 Christophe’s garden tour 
12:00 - 2:00 lunch
2:00 - 6:00 advanced medicine making (percolation, ratio method, advanced salves)
6:00 - 7:30 dinner
7:30 - 9:00 intro to herbal considerations for digestion

9:00 - 12:00 herbal considerations for digestion (GERD, ulcers, constipation, IBS, and more)
12:00 - 2:00 lunch
2:00 - 6:00 herbal approaches to insulin resistance and diabetes
6:00 - 7:30 dinner
7:30 - 9:00 herbal approaches to cancer

8:00 - 2:00 village outing
2:00 - 4:00 herbal considerations for cancer 
4:00-6:00 heart health overview 
6:00 - 7:30 dinner
7:30 - 9:00 herbal considerations for heart disease (arteriosclerosis, high blood pressure, cholesterol)

9:00 - 12:00 herbal considerations for thyroid health (hyper and hypo)
12:00 - 2:00 lunch
2:00 - 6:00 TBA
6:00 - 7:30 dinner
7:30 - 9:00 TBA

last day, depart by noon

We will have small breaks throughout the day and my belle-mere (mother-in-law) will be preparing Provencal snacks for us all. Tea too of course! 

During free time students may decide to walk the gorgeous countryside, visit the nearby town of Robion or take a dip in our private pool. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

Go get me a sprig of rosemary!


Go get me a sprig of rosemary!
by Christophe Bernard

 Every kid of my generation who grew up in Provence heard that shout from the kitchen window. There was always a mother who needed rosemary to prepare the lamb chops. Or a grandpa who had a sluggish digestion. We did not have to go very far of course, the plant is ubiquitous in this low-to-the-ground vegetation we call “garrigue”.

What makes wild rosemary so special is that it thrives in very harsh conditions. It has a knack for growing in the most imperceptible crack of a rock. If there is a pinch of soil jammed between two layers of limestone, you can be sure that a seed will find its way.

Just like grapevines, the quality of the constituents of aromatic plants is dictated by how much struggle they have to go through to survive. As some of you will find out during our retreat next year, Provence does provide a pretty challenging environment in some areas.

I wanted to write about rosemary for the simple reason that nobody talks about it anymore. It is not “sexy” like ashwagandha or dang shen or other exotic-sounding plants. And it has been widely exploited by the food industry (think McCormick and co) – so much so that people are forgetting it is a complex remedy.

It also addresses the needs of an aging population as we will see further down, which makes it a great plant for modern clinical practice.

A liver plant

In France, rosemary is known as a liver plant, which may sound a bit surprising to you. Our doctors of the 19th century classified it as an aromatic bitter. Chew on a leaf, go past the aromatic taste, and try to get a feel for its bitterness. Sure, it is no gentian. But it is a bitter nonetheless.

And as we know bitters act as orchestrators of the whole digestive process, but more particularly on the liver (more bile being produced) and on the gallbladder (stronger contractions).

Some studies show that it is also hepatoprotective. It helps regulate glycemia, the liver being at the center of glycemic control. It also helps regulate lipidemia, again the liver being at the center of fat metabolism, especially triglycerides, total cholesterol, HDL or LDL.

So as we study the other indications for the plant, let’s keep in mind that underlying all indications, there is a depuration and cleansing process taking place (and we all need depuration on a regular basis – no matter what we eat or how much toxins we ingest).

Brain Fog

I recently read the following statement on a respected medical website regarding atherosclerosis : you cannot avoid it, it is the disease of an aging population.

I do believe it can be avoided. But the reality is this : most aging folks today have clogged arteries. Atherosclerosis significantly prevents blood flow to the extremities. Head included.

Rosemary is a circulatory stimulant. It acts on the contraction of smooth muscles (arteries contract and expand via smooth muscle activity). It also “thins” the blood by lowering lipidemia and preventing platelet aggregation. The blood is more fluid, the arteries a bit more relaxed, bringing more blood to areas formerly hard to reach.

When the aging person suffers from brain fog, forgetfulness and inability to concentrate due to atherosclerosis, rosemary will help.

In my experience, it needs to be taken daily for a period of several weeks before it starts to fully kick-in. Although I see once in a while a person who reacts to rosemary immediately and strongly – in which case ask yourself if you should lower the dosage, or whether rosemary is a good match for that person.

This application is confirmed by science. Research shows that rosemary brings long-term memory improvements. We are also discovering novel ways in which rosemary works : it can, for instance, inhibit the action of acetylcholinesterase (AChE) in the brain (AChE is the enzyme responsible for breaking down acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter – less of it means more neurotransmitter activity).

Rosemary is therefore a very promising plant when it comes to brain aging, be it due to neurovascular issues (atherosclerosis, stroke) or other degenerative processes (the dreaded Alzheimer’s Disease for instance).

In those cases, rosemary needs to be taken daily, as a tea, without interruption.

Too stimulating?

French practitioners will tell you this : rosemary can be too exciting, it will prevent a good night of sleep, it will give you palpitations, etc.

This needs to be nuanced. It is true if misused. For the young and healthy, people with good circulation, with a good heart and good lungs (i.e. good oxygenation), it can be a bit exciting.

But if you have a deficient circulation, then at the opposite, it will help you deal with the stress of cloudy thinking. Think of old people on the decline : some are not able to remember what they did yesterday, they cannot do crossword puzzles anymore - that stresses them out, a lot.

Give them rosemary, day-in day-out, and they will think clearer, and lose a bit of that stress and worry about "oh my god it could be alzheimer". Although it could be alzheimer too, you never know. And if it is, rosemary again could be of value.

The decision-making plant

I often recommend an infusion of rosemary and lavender flowers every morning in those periods of your life when you need to make important decisions, and you are a bit scattered-brain, may be because you are running on adrenaline and cortisol, maybe in expectations of big changes coming-up in your life.

A rosemary twig, along with a flower head of lavender, will help you get clarity of thoughts to be able to make those important decisione.

The anti-aging plant

The studies tell us that rosemary is one of the best antioxidant in the plant world. A lot of studies have focused on the ability of rosemary to protect against lipid peroxidation. It is, after all, added to a lot of packaged foods to prevent lipids from becoming rancid.

Guess what our cell membranes are mad of ? Lipids. And toxins, pollution, drugs, alcohol, sugars, and a host of other substances create oxidative stress in our body. Free radicals bounce around and damage those fragile lipids. Our cells age, slowly, with visible (wrinkles) and less-visible (degenerative diseases) consequences.

Rosemary, to me, is like an insurance for long term health. Both taken internally and applied externally. Applied locally, in the form of an infused oil or a salve, it can protect the skin and slow down tissue aging. The essential oil can work too, since the protective compounds are in the essential oil.

The studies have also proved that rosemary, added to meat or fish before roasting, makes them a lot healthier to eat because it slows down the formation of “advanced glycation end-products”. In other words, it prevents the destruction of proteins by sugars.

So where does this lead to?

I would like all of us to do two things.

The first one is planting rosemary in our garden, or on our balcony, because rosemary is one of those plants that should be consumed in small quantity, but regularly, in order to prevent the damage of industrialized life. And fresh rosemary is so much better than dried one.

The second one is meeting with wild rosemary, the one that grows in a crack of a rock. But this, dear reader, I will save for our upcoming retreat. 

We invite you to join us for an herbal intensive in France! 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Ultimate Guide to Elderberry Medicine

A few years ago my husband and I returned to France to spend time with our family and friends. While there I got to experience France through another passion that has shaped my life, medicinal plants! 

Many of the plants that I love for food and medicine grow abundantly in France. Nettles can be found growing through cracks in ancient walls and lining the pathways to caves that have been inhabited by humans for thousands of years. Dandelions cover alpine meadows, giving the impression they are covered in gold. Poppies, a certified weed, give a deep blush to the fields. 

An elderberry bush in full flower jumps out of the landscape. Photo taken on a volcano in central France. 

Elders are also common in France. While we were there the elders were in bloom, which made them especially noticeable. It was just like meeting up with old friends but in a new place. 

Learning about how others have used elders for food and medicine in the past can help us to explore forgotten methods of use. I have used various French resources to help write this article and many of the recipes have been inspired by French sources as well. 

If you're inspired to use elderberries or elderflowers as medicine but don't have a shrub near you I highly recommend getting dried berries and flowers from Mountain Rose Herbs. They have high quality organic herbs and I buy all of my dried herbs from them. If you use links on this website to purchase the herbs you help support the free information on this site. Thank you! 

In May of 2016 I’ll be teaching an intensive herbal course with French herbalist Christophe Bernard in Provence, France. We’ll be exploring the region, learning about how herbs can be used to help chronic health problems and enjoying that special je ne sais quoi of France. 

All about Elder
For most of the year elder shrubs tend to be tucked away into the landscape, blending into their surroundings. But just after the summer equinox elder shrubs burst out of hiding. First I’ll see one bloom here then another there, but pretty soon elder has announced its presence in the grandest of fashions with its large white blooms dotting the landscape throughout the valley where I live. 

People have been using the elder shrub for thousands of years as food, medicine and tools. It has a rich folklore and has long been associated with the faery worlds, death and rebirth. It is still highly revered today as one of our most powerful herbs for preventing and treating colds and the flu. 

This article will look at popular ways that elderberries and elderflowers are used as food and as medicine. We’ll also look at how the bark, leaves and wood have been used as tools and medicine. Much of this more obscure information about elder has been gleaned from French resources. 

After a thorough introduction to elder, I’ll share one of my favorite Elderberry recipes. 

John Evelyn, writing in praise of the Elder, says:
'If the medicinal properties of its leaves, bark and berries were fully known, I cannot tell what our
countryman could ail for which he might not fetch a remedy from every hedge, either for sickness, or wounds.'
Maude Grieve
A Modern Herbal

What’s in a (French) name?

The French call elder shrubs Sureau

Because all parts of the elder are used medicinally it is referred to as the pharmacien de la maison or house pharmacy.

A French saying that illustrates the high respect for this plant says: 

Si Dieu le veut, un malade, rien que de toucher au sureau, se porte mieux. 

Which translates to: God willing, a sick person can be cured simply by touching elder.

History of Use and a bit of Folklore
A container made from an elder branch. 
Elder has a long history of use in Europe. Archeological excavations show large numbers of seeds at prehistoric sites, indicating elders were consumed during the Magdalanian era, which was 17,000 to 9,000 BP. It’s been hypothesized that the wood was probably used as well for tools. 

Excavations have exhumed ceremonial flint spearheads that were modeled after elder leaves, giving us the insight that the elder was probably revered then as it is now. 

Elderberry shrubs were an important plant for the Celtic people. Celtic druids made flutes from elder to communicate with the souls of dead people and Celtic myth says that the spirits of the forest dwell in the hollow wood of the elder tree; the white blooms in the spring symbolize the reincarnation of the dead. 

During the spring in Austria and in the north of England people would leave elder cuttings on tombs. If the branches flowered then that meant the soul of the dead had joined paradise. Luckily, elder grows really well from cuttings! 

Elderberries make a great dye. Depending on the method used it can create a grey, purple or black dye. It has been used to dye hair black or dye textiles like the purple silk scarves you see pictured below. Until recently, French school children used ink made from elderberries. 

Silk scarves dyed with fresh elderberries

Using Elderberries...
Elderberries are powerful medicine. They are renowned for their ability to prevent an upper respiratory infection as well as shorten the duration of a cold or flu. 

During the H1N1 scare of 2009, elderberries were studied and found to be effective against the virus! To date, elderberries have been shown to be effective against 8 different influenza viruses. 

How does it work? 

One way that elderberries may work is that they are extremely high in flavonoids and these flavonoids can disrupt a virus’ ability to replicate. However, there are certainly many different mechanisms of action. 

In clinical trials, patients who took the elderberry juice syrup reported fast termination of symptoms. Twenty percent reported significant improvement within 24 hours, 70% by 48 hours, and 90% claimed a complete cure after three days. Patients receiving the placebo required six days for recovery. As proof that elder has more to it than the enzyme neutralizing constituents, researchers found that the patients who took it also had higher levels of antibodies against the flu virus. 

“Recent research from Israel and Panama has demonstrated that elderberry juice (Sambucus nigra) not only stimulates the immune system, but also directly inhibits the influenza virus (Zakay-Rones et al 1995; Mumcuoglu 1995).
Paul Bergner

Elderberries can also be used to prevent a herpes breakout or to shorten the duration of a herpes breakout. This illustrates another capacity of its antiviral capabilities. 

The flavonoid-rich berries are anti-inflammatory in nature and have been used to strengthen the eyes as well as decrease arthritic pain. 

In 1899 an American sailor informed a physician of Prague that getting drunk on genuine, old, dark-red port was a sure remedy for rheumatic pains. This unedifying observation started a long series of investigations ending in the discovery that while genuine port wine has practically no anti-neuralgic properties, the cheap stuff faked to resemble tawny port by the addition of elderberry juice often banishes the pain of sciatica and other forms of neuralgia, though of no avail in genuine neuritis. Cases of cure have been instanced after many tests carried out by leading doctors in Prague and other centres abroad, the dose recommended being 30 grams of Elderberry juice mixed with 10 grams of port wine.
Maude Grieve
A Modern Herbal

Herbalists are not the only ones who are recognizing the amazing powers of elderberries. In 2013 the first international conference on Elder was held in Columbia, Missouri. The goal of the conference was to “raise elderberry to the scientific level it deserves.”

Using Elder flowers....
Like elderberries, elder flowers can be used for symptoms of a cold or flu. Elder flowers differ significantly in how they are used however. 

Elder flowers probably contain some immunomodulating or antiviral activity that can help to shorten a cold or flu. 

They are also used for high fevers when there is a state of restlessness and no sweating. Elder flowers are slightly diffusive and help to open the pores to release heat through the skin. 

An almost infallible cure for an attack of influenza in its first stage is a strong infusion of dried Elder Blossoms and Peppermint. Put a handful of each in a jug, pour over them a pint and a half of boiling water, allow to steep, on the stove, for half an hour then strain and sweeten and drink in bed as hot as possible. Heavy perspiration and refreshing sleep will follow, and the patient will wake up well on the way to recovery and the cold or influenza will probably be banished within thirty-six hours. Yarrow may also be added.
Maude Grieve
A Modern Herbal

Today elder flowers are most famous as a tea for colds and the flu, as discussed above. However, in the past they were more commonly used externally for problems with the skin. They can be used as a tea wash or infused in oil for a cream or salve. They are said to soften the skin and rejuvenate the skin. Elder flower water used to a be a very common toiletry for women. 

Elder flowers are diaphoretic and sudorific in proportion to the quantity administered, but find their principal employment in external applications, as for fomentations and poultices to swellings, and in the earlier stages of gatherings, boils, and abscesses, to discuss any collection of lymph; an ointment, also, is prepared from them, which is suitable in those cases where a cooling and emollient application is desired, as for cracks and chaps in the hands, lips, nipples of the breasts, and for similar purposes.
John G. Hatfield 
Botanic Pharmacopoeia

Elderflowers growing in central Utah

Elder flowers, like elderberries, have also been used to support eye health. 

The infusion is useful, and receives somewhat extensive employment, as a wash, in weakness of the eyes, dimness of vision, and twitchings of the eyelids.
John G. Hatfield 
Botanic Pharmacopoeia

Elder flowers can be infused into oil and used for ear infections. 

Elderflowers in oil

Using Elder wood and leaves...
Elder wood has a pithy center. This easily hollowed out center makes it very easy to make various tools and instruments such as flutes or blow guns or pipes. Have some caution though. The pithy center contains cyanide-producing glycosides that, when consumed in quantity, can cause a variety of problems, including death. Drying or boiling the materials makes them safer to use. 

From wikipedia

Culpepper to declare: 'It is needless to write any description of this (Elder), since every boy that plays with a pop-gun will not mistake another tree for the Elder.' Pliny's writings also testify that pop-guns and whistles are manufactures many centuries old!
Maude Grieve
A Modern Herbal

A French historical record says the pithy center was used for toothaches and for worts. Although the preparation wasn’t specified we’ll have to presume it was dried before being used for toothaches due to the potential toxicity. 

Elder flowers and elder leaves were used as moth balls and an infusion made from the leaves can be used to expel insects and pests on plants. 

Some other interesting historical uses of elder include: 

  • Freshly crushed elder leaf placed in nose to stop nose bleed. 
  • Inner bark used as a laxative and diuretic for edema, rheumatism and gout
  • Inner bark used as an ointment for burns and herpes

Boil the green bark till the fluid is a soft extract. Then combine with vaseline and you have an excellent salve for old sores, eczema rubrum, etc.
TJ Lyle
Physio-Medical Therapeutics

Botanically Speaking...

Elder trees grow as a small deciduous tree or shrub up to 12 feet tall. 

The leaves are pinnately divided and often have serrated edges. They grow as opposite leaflets. 

The flowers are cream colored and grow in flat umbel-shaped clusters (corymbs). Where I live the flowers tend to bloom around the 4th of July.

It has been said, with some truth, that our English summer is not here until the Elder is fully in flower, and that it ends when the berries are ripe.
Maude Grieve
Modern Herbal 

There are several varieties of elders that can be used interchangeably. These include Sambucus nigra, S. canadensis, S. cerulea, and S. mexicana. 

What about the red-berried elders? 
The red-berried variety, Sambucus racemosa, can be used to make jams and jellies. S. racemosa has a higher content of cyanic compounds and should always be prepared
with heat, strained of the seeds, and never eaten raw in large quantities. These red berries are more mealy than the blue varieties.

Harvesting Elderberries and Elder Flowers
Elder flowers can be harvested anytime they are in their prime. All the flowers should be a creamy white color; some may be just about to open while others in the umbel are fully opened. 

Whenever I harvest elder flowers I also seem to take home a large number of small black bugs. In order to encourage these bugs to find a new home I place the freshly harvested corymbs in an open box or basket and leave them outside for a couple of hours. By the time I am ready to process the flowers into food or medicine the bugs have flown off. 

Keep in mind that every flower bunch that you harvest means that much less berries in the fall! 

The berries can be harvested whenever they are turned a deep blue, purple or black color (depending on species). If you live in an area that frosts early, you could wait until the first frost to enjoy slightly sweeter berries. I harvest the berries anywhere from mid August to mid September. If I waited any longer the birds would be off with all of them! 

Speaking of the birds, when I harvest the berries I harvest only what I can reach naturally. This leaves many more bunches of berries for the birds and other animals to feast upon. 

Both the flowers and berries can be used fresh or dried for later use. 

When using fresh elderberries the process of removing the berries from the stems can be a lot of work. Here’s is a simple trick to make the task easier. After harvesting the berry umbels place them in a bag in the freezer. Let them sit overnight (or several hours). Once the berries are frozen you can use a fork to easily separate the berries from the stems.

Special Considerations
Elderberries and elderflowers are pretty much safe for everyone. The raw seeds can make someone nauseous if they eat too many of them. Cooking them seems to diminish this effect. I have heard from a couple of people that the commercially bought elderberry powder can cause vomiting (presumably due to the seeds in the powdered product). 

As the French say, there are so many medicinal properties within this plant, it is like the house pharmacy. From colds and the flu to arthritis to beautiful skin, elderberries and elderflowers offer medicine in a myriad of ways. 

Do you love elderberry? I'd love to hear how you use elder medicine in the comments below. 

Elder at a Glance

Scientific name: Sambucus nigra, S. cerulea, S. canadensis

Family: Adoxaceae

Taste: berries - sour, flowers - bitter/sweet


berries - antiviral, immuno-modulating, antioxidant rich

flowers - antiviral, relaxing nervine, relaxing diaphoretic, diuretic

Used for: colds and the flu, herpes, strengthen eyes, fevers, ear infections

Plant Preparations: 

berries - food, syrup, tincture, elixir, tea, dye

flowers - tea, infused oil, salve, cream, tincture, syrup, elixir

Sous la protection du Sureau by Bernard Bertrand
Saveurs de Sureau by Bernard Bertrand
A Modern Herbal by Maude Grieve
Physio-Medical Therapeutics, TJ Lyle, 1897
Botanic Pharmacopoeia, John G. Hatfield, 1886
Paul Bergner, NAIMH Course Materials

Where to buy elderberries and elderflowers

My affiliate partner Mountain Rose Herbs carries high quality organic dried herbs, including elder flowers and elderberries. 

Bulk organic herbs, spices and essential oils. Sin

Pacific Botanicals is a farm and bulk herb supplier. You can get both fresh and dried elderberries and elder flowers here. 

Ancestree Herbals is a small farm located just a few miles from where I live. They ship fresh elder flowers and elderberries when they are in season. 

If you would like elderberry products then check out

Also look for local herb farms near you! 

Elderberry Syrup Recipes
The following recipes are three of my favorite elderberry syrup recipes. There are endless variations to all of these, experiment and enjoy!

Garden Elderberry Syrup

This recipe is my own little tradition. In September, just as the elderberries are ripening, I gather them from my garden along with whatever else my garden is offering. I often don’t measure out the herbs and each year the syrup is a bit different. This year I measured it all out to give you an idea of how to make something similar. 

As a coincidence, when I was writing this article I came down with the first signs of a cold. My throat was sore and scratchy and I had that feeling that says, "watch out". I started taking this recipe ad-lib and in 24 hours all those symptoms were gone. Thank you elderberry!

What you’ll need...
585 grams of fresh elderberries
3 echinacea flower heads (minced)
2 cups of water
65 grams fresh herbs: rosemary, oregano, thyme, sage (minced)

Simmer the elderberries, echinacea flower heads and water for twenty minutes. Mash well. 

Turn off heat and add the other herbs. Let sit for 30 minutes. 

Strain off. Mine resulted in 2.5 cups of water

I added 1.5 cups honey and 1.5 cups brandy. If you like things sweeter you could add more honey. 

Store in the fridge and use within 6 months or so. 

I take this throughout the winter months as a sort of health tonic. It can be taken liberally at the first sign of a cold or flu to shorten the duration of an illness. 

Elderberry Cough Syrup
This recipe is a combination of stimulating and relaxing expectorants that is combined with the immune supporting qualities of elderberries and boneset. 

All the ingredients in this recipe are dried. 

70 grams Elderberries 
20 grams Marshmallow root
15 grams Elecampane Root 
10 grams Orange Peel 
10 grams Cinnamon bark 
5 grams Boneset
5 grams Licorice root
And honey to taste

Place all the ingredients in a small saucepan and add two cups of water. 

Bring to a boil and then simmer for 30 minutes. Strain off the herbs and add an equal part honey, or to taste. 

By adding an equal part of honey you’ll preserve the syrup for a longer period of time. 

Once the mixture is combined you can simmer it further to create a thicker consistency. 

Store in the fridge and use within six months or so. 

Classic Elderberry Syrup
Elderberry syrup is a very old tradition. It tastes great and the additional honey can be soothing to the throat. The only difference between this syrup and the juice above is the amount of honey added.

What you’ll need... 
2 cups of fresh (or dried) elderberries
1-2 cups of water

Gently heat fresh elderberries and water on the stove and mash them to help extract the juice. Simmer for 20 minutes. 

Strain well using a cheesecloth. 

Measure the remaining liquid. Add an equal amount of honey. 

Variation: Add ginger, cinnamon and cardamom to the simmering mixture. 

The syrup will keep well in the fridge. 

To use elderberry syrup

Adults take 1-3 tablespoons each day to prevent colds and the flu. Children can take 1-2 teaspoons a day.

To shorten the duration of an illness take liberally at the first sign of a cold or flu.