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Super Sambucus

One of my favorite parts of running Three Leaves Foods, is my weekly interactions with the wonderful people who come in to enjoy the fruits of our labor. These short yet honest minutes have become a highlight of my week. Updates on life, births, deaths, accomplishments, hardships, digestion and the overriding compliment of how our service has made their lives just a little bit easier. Always makes my heart full dispite my sore feet.

This week I came away with a recurring topic...not unusual for this time of year, as the temperatures drop fast and winter is on our tails. Lots of sickie germs flying around! People taking care of sick kids, trying to stay well themselves, and having a hard time avoiding those sick people at the office that seem to be unaware of their contamination levels.

So I put my herbalist hat on and asked myself, what are my go to herbs for boosting the immune system and aiding in the recovery of those nasty colds and flus that leave you in bed with a fever, chills, cough and chest congestion? Plus the kids have to be willing to take it!

It was an easy answer....Elderberry Syrup! Elderberry has the highest concentration of antioxidants of any berry in the world. This small shrub boosts amazing medicinal properties it's found in North America, (much of it is grown in Oregon), Europe, central and western Asia, and northern Africa.

Botanically, elderberry is referred to as Sambucus Nigra. The elderberry fruit is reddish brown to purple and shiny black in color. Elderberry benefits have long been known to mankind and used for medicinal as well as culinary purposes. They are also used as an ingredient in various skin creams and other cosmetics.

Elderberries have been used in traditional and modern medicine to combat bacterial infections and viral infections such as, colds, flu, bronchitis, and sinusitis which cause the mucus membranes to swell with mucus which develops into chest congestion and nasal congestion. Elderberry benefits have been historically astounding which has led to scientific studies being done on elderberries to find which of its properties fight chest congestion and nasal congestion.

Scientific research has indicated that elderberries contain high levels of the flavonoid anthocyanin, and other flavonoids, which fuels the elderberry benefits and give elderberries their powerful antioxidant, antiviral, and likely anti-cancer properties.

In the most compelling study, a randomized trial of 60 patients aged 18-54 suffering from flu symptoms for 48 hours or less received 15 ml (3 teaspoons) of elderberry syrup or a placebo 4x per day for five days. Researchers observed that “Symptoms were relieved on average 4 days earlier and use of rescue medication was significantly less in those receiving elderberry extract compared with placebo”.

Laboratory research has supported the following health benefits of elderberry:

1) Elderberries fight flu infections like H1N1 by sticking to the virus, which prevents it from entering host cells. One study found that elderberry could cut the time a person had flu symptoms by more than 50%, and the benefits were greater if a person started taking elderberry within twenty four to forty eight hours after flu symptoms have started.

2) Elderberries have anti-inflammatory properties that reduce pain, aches, and fever.

3) Elderberries stimulate the immune system by increasing white blood cells, anti-inflammatory substances, and cytokines which may give it anti-cancer properties.

4) Elderberries’ flavonoids are powerful antioxidants which protect the cells of the body against damage and aging.

This time of year I always have my homemade elderberry syrup in my fridge, taking a daily spoon of this delicious elixir of herbs, and spices blended with anti bacterial honey is a heavy hitter! It has kept my family from any major sickness for years and this week I decided to make it for my Three Leaves Family.

Three Leaves Super Immune Elderberry Syrup:

Elderberry- immune stimulant, anti-viral, anti-inflammatory

Ginger- warming, stimulates digestion, supports liver, and boosts circulation

Clove- circulation, tonify kidney, nausea, antiseptic,

Cinnamon- supports spleen, counteracts congestion, influenza, arthritis, nervine

Elder Flower- antiseptic anti-inflammatory, infections, antibacterial, antiviral

Rose hip- anti oxidant, high in vitamin C, boosts immune system

Honey- demulcent (natural cough syrup), fights infection, anti-bacterial

A single teaspoon once or twice a day is sufficient as a preventative measure. If illness strikes, use more as necessary, with up to 3 teaspoons, 4x per day as used in the randomized study described above.

For young children who cannot have raw honey yet, half the maximum dosage is recommended and either dilute the syrup with hot water or heat on the stove before administering.

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