Elderberry tincture, home care and staying well in the autumn from a Naturopathic perspective

depositphotos_54461861_originalAutumn is in full swing! As we start to spend more time indoors and in close proximity to each other, the chances of getting sick go up. It probably isn’t the best idea to go hang out in the cold rain to avoid the extra contact with germs, so we definitely need turn to other options that can help prevent illness!

The fact is, we are all exposed to a variety of viruses every day. Most of the time, most of us have no problem fighting off a minor viral invasion, our immune systems are incredible. The extra contact with others, rich foods, alcohol, and stress of returning to school and approaching holiday season all have a tendency to reduce our immune system’s ability to fight off illness. These are the perfect reasons to pay attention to the strength of your immune system during the fall and winter.

An easy, and tasty, way to support your immune system is Elderberry

Black Elderberry (Sambucus nigra) and Elder flower have been used historically to support the body in defending against viral illness. It actually helps strengthen the cell membranes of our bodies against viruses, preventing them from multiplying. It also increases the immune function in our bodies so that when we are exposed to viruses, our body is ready to fight them. While having a strong immune system does not mean you will never get sick, it does mean you are less likely to get sick, and more likely to have any sickness be short.

The best thing about elderberry is that it tastes great! Kids and adults alike will have no problem taking this daily during the cold and flu season. It doesn’t have any known side effects, drug interactions, and is safe for kiddos to take. *

I recommend 2 droppers-full of tincture (or glycerine tincture for kids) or a tablespoon of syrup daily during the fall and winter. The tincture or syrup is tasty to take directly, but it can be added to teas or juice. My favorite way to take elderberry is to put it in hot water with some lemon and honey. It is a delicious hot drink and a nice way to wake up on cold mornings, or calm down before going to bed. Dried elderberries can also be delicious, supportive additions to granola, yogurt, or eaten by themselves. You can get this at Watershed, or at most well stocked natural foods stores.

If you do get sick, continue to take the tincture, but increase the frequency to 2 times per day. Also remember to be sure to wash your hands frequently, drink plenty of liquids, rest, and go see your Naturopath!

A reminder for hand washing: No need to use anti-bacterial soap. Regular soap is perfect. The key is to rub your hands together for at least 30 seconds with the soap. Singing “Happy Birthday” is the right amount of time and it is an easy way for kids (and adults) to wash for the right amount of time.

*Note to pregnant women: There has been some research that indicates that the immune system of pregnant woman may overreact to the flu virus, so while elderberry is considered safe during pregnancy, ceasing it’s use if you start to get sick is a good idea to avoid increased overreaction to the flu virus. “Study: Pregnancy Causes Surprising Changes in How the Immune System Responds to the Flu.”

Written by DeAun Nelson


My philosophy is that we are all in this together. If you have compassion and care for yourself, that compassion and care will extend to those around you. Naturopathic medicine is all about treating the whole person. In my mind, this means treating not just individuals, but communities. We all have incredible bodies that do incredible things, even when we are suffering. We live, breath, laugh, and love. You are an important being who deserves respect and judgement-free care.