Elderberry Syrup: Nature’s Cough Medicine

Temperatures are dropping fast around Grand Rapids this time of year. In the past, I would normally get anxious. Not because the holidays are approaching, but tis the season for colds and flu. I have a son who has asthma and even a small cold can begin to constrict his lungs. That leads to coughing and if left unchecked can send him to the emergency room with a full-blown asthma attack.

While a healthy diet goes a long way in building a strong immune system, it isn’t a bulletproof vest. I debated with myself for years if over-the-counter cough medicine and prescription drugs were the only solution to help our son through the colder months. I knew there were alternative answers out there but I didn’t know what they were.

Then I stumbled across Wellness Mama and she challenged me to think outside the box. Perhaps the medications we need are not at the pharmacy but in our backyards. Using plants and herbs as natural remedies was the answer I was looking for – enough with the steroid treatments and daily medications. I began a new journey making elderberry syrup for problems with asthma, colds, and flu.

Just this past month, my son’s entire preschool class came down with a terrible cold. When he woke up with a raspy cough I began giving him two teaspoons of elderberry syrup every two to four hours. In two days he bounced back! For the first time ever we avoided steroid treatment and a trip to the doctors.

elderberry syrup

Elderberries medicinal benefits are simply outstanding. The bioflavonoid in the berry juice destroys a viruses’ ability to infect a cell. People with the flu report less severe symptoms and speed up recovery when consuming elderberries while sick. The anthocyanins enhance the immune function by boosting the production of cytokines. What does that mean? These unique proteins send messages to the immune system to regulate an immune response by increasing antibodies to defend the body against the offending agent.

Local Honey

Local raw honey has anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal properties. Honey strengths the immune system, is a powerful antioxidant, and alleviates allergy and asthma symptoms. When the throat is irritated from raspy, dry coughing and the bronchial tubes are inflamed – honey soothes.

Elderberry Cough Syrup Recipe


  • ½ cup dried elderberries
  • 2 cup water
  • 1 cup raw honey


1. In a saucepan, combine elderberries and water. Bring to a boil then simmer over medium heat for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and cool.

2. Strain off the berries from the liquid then stir in the honey to create a thin syrup.

3. Bottle the elderberry syrup in glass mason jars with a lid. Refrigerate for up to three months.

Where to Find the Ingredients

If you live in the Grand Rapids Metro, check out one of Harvest Health’s locations or Elder and Sage for quality ingredients. Otherwise, Mountain Rose Herbs is a premium herbal company that supplies all these ingredients on-line.

Everyone is more susceptible to coming down with an illness this time of year. Why not make a batch of elderberry syrup ahead of time to be prepared? Who knows, it might just be the solution you’ve been waiting for.

About Hannah

Hannah Willette is a mother of two who loves to feed her family nutritious, whole food. Her love of cooking and organic gardening led her to create an online collection of deliciously simple recipes at www.thewholekitchen.com. If she is not in the kitchen, you can find her enjoying the outdoors with her family.


  1. Bravo Hanna for looking at alternatives. Excellent and timely post.

    As someone who owns a couple of preschools and has now started his own Ceylon Cinnamon company, I can tell you I have dealt with sick kids a thousand times and more. For me the process started with keeping the parents and my teachers healthy. I was also tired of the winter allergies, colds, sore throats and hacking coughs that would persist for months. And every time I took that damned cough syrup I knew it would kill my liver just a little bit. And the cough syrup gave me such bad back pains that I could barely work. I loved the drugged out feeling but the pack pain was too much.

    My solution has been APPLE CIDER VINEGAR. Two teaspoons in a glass of warm water, taken every 8 hours. Stop after 3 times. You must take it as soon as you feel a cold or sore throat coming. I mean within 15 minutes if you can, otherwise it’s too late. Never exceed more than 2 teaspoons per glass. Never use cold water or hot water. Only warm water. And it works extremely well for those hacking coughs. I think you can put honey in it, but I am not sure whether it would destroy the efficacy of the ACV. The Braggs brand organic Apple Cider Vinegar is the best. And cheap too.

    But the funny thing is people are stubborn. I used to have parents in my school that turned up their noses at it. They said it tasted horrible. True enough but with warm water it’s actually pretty good. But eventually they all came around and started using ACV. I have ACV and honey at all my businesses and my staff take it at the first sign of illness. It saves me a ton of money on worker absences. And I have thrown away my Allegra tablets and cough medicine. I have no medicine at the house except some Ibuprofen and a good first aid kit. But if you look at the medicine cupboards of an average American household you can see the extent of what the medical industry has done to us. It’s shocking!

  2. Cinnamon Vogue, great tip!

    I love ACV and you are absolutely right about people turning their nose up to it. What a shame. Your recipe for AVC as a warm drink sounds delicious. I plan on making a cup right now with a slice of fresh ginger. Thanks for letting the readers know about this great alternative.