Tag: syrup

Elderberry: Making a Syrup

Elderberry01-webElderberry syrup can be made purely for its great taste or for its vitamin content and medicinal properties in helping the whole family to fight off colds and flu.

Pick your elderberries from bushes that have not been sprayed with pesticides or polluted by passing cars. They will be ripe in from August to October (depending how far north you are!).

Sort your elderberries out, removing sticks and any spoiled ones. A useful trick is to run a spray through a fork in your hand to speed up the process. Don’t worry if you miss a few as they are not harmful just a bit bitter. Rinse the berries in a colander and put in a large saucepan. Cover with water to about 2 cm above the berries. Bring to the boil. Simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat. Roughly mash the berries with a potato masher to release all the juice. Leave to cool for 30 minutes or so.

Strain through a jelly bag (or piece of muslin) and measure the juice. (Keep the unwanted berry pulp or ‘must’ for vinegar). Then follow either method below:

SUGAR METHOD
For each litre of juice add 250g of sugar. Heat and stir until the sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil and boil for three minutes. Pour into sterilised bottles, cap and leave to cool. As the bottles cool the syrup will shrink, forming a vacuum. The bottles can be kept in a cool dark place until opened, then they must be refrigerated.

HONEY METHOD
Warm the juice again and for every two cups of juice, add one cup of honey. Stir and bottle. This type of syrup must be kept in the fridge so is best made in small batches.

For either method, take 1 dessert spoon (10 ml) a day during the cold and flu season to keep immunity high. 3-4 teaspoons (15-20 ml) a day if there are bugs around. If you do succumb to an infection take 1 teaspoon of elderberry extract once an hour on the first day, then 3 x per day.

Use elderberry extract at the first sign of viral infection. Elderberry has been tested in clinical trials and has been proven in these trials to reduce the severity of symptoms and to shorten the time affected by the flu, on average by around a third. Elderberry is a native British hedgerow plant that has proven antiviral properties. Click here for more info!

Don’t forget that elderberry extract can be diluted with plain or sparkling water to make a refreshing drink. You can also add boiling water ( and a pinch of cinnamon or nutmeg) to make a warming winter drink!

Any left over elderberry juice can also be pasteurised and used later for drinking or cooking.

Swine Flu, Herbal Remedies & Elderberry Extract

I find it amazing that with all the worry about swine flu at the moment, and the amount of press coverage given to it, that so little mention has been made of herbal remedies. Herbal remedies can help to:

  • boost the immune system and lower the chances of catching flu
  • decrease the severity of symptoms
  • lessen the length of time that symptoms are experienced

I know much of the silence at the moment is political. Many Medical Herbalists are currently feeling overwhelmed by the dawning impact of the new legislative changes and also by vociferous attacks against herbal medicine by some journalists and contributors. Few Medical Herbalists have the time to take on the job of defending themselves in the national press, after all most of them are running busy clinics, seeing patients and running businesses in challenging economic times. And few have the connections in the media, nor the training in debate and public relations, to defend the profession well.

The abilities of Medical Herbalists lie in the professional service that they offer to patients who seek alternative ways of managing their health. In particular, those with chronic health conditions where a string of 6 minute appointments with an NHS GP, and a long wait for a consultant appointment, have still not yielded an alternative to the prospect of years of management with prescription drugs. This is not an attack on GPs or the NHS by any means, but many health conditions now require long term management (for example; asthma, eczema, hormonal imbalances, irritable bowel, high blood pressure, arthritis, digestive problems and stress related conditions). Understandably, many people prefer to seek out a gentler system that a drug-dependent one.

However, despite the silence in the national press it is important to know that there are options. So back to swine flu! Firstly, the common sense:

  • Avoid contact with people who obviously have symptoms – coughs, colds, sniffles.
  • Wash your hands frequently and use paper tissues.
  • Maintain a healthy, balanced diet with your ‘Five a Day’ intake of fruits and vegetables. If your body is not properly nourished it will be less able to fight an infection. If you are not properly nourished you may also be low on vitamins (particularly if you smoke – which kills Vitamin C, drink a lot of alcohol, or are stressed).
  • Get sufficient sleep and exercise, keeping the body in optimum condition.

To support your immune system to lessen the chances of catching an infection, consider the following:

  • Vitamin and mineral supplements. Look for combinations with minerals that help you to absorb the vitamins. High doses of Vitamin C do work. At the onset of a cold, 1000 mg daily doses will help. Your body needs zinc to absorb it though.
  • Modify your diet to a medicinal diet. Add plenty of garlic, sage and lemon for example, herbs that are either antiviral or naturally full of Vitamin C.
  • Elderberry extract

Elderberry Extract

Elderberry01-web

Elderberries picked in October

At the first sign of infection use elderberry extract. Elderberry has been tested in clinical trials and has been proven in these trials to reduce the severity of symptoms and to shorten the time affected by the flu, on average by around a third. Elderberry is a native British hedgerow plant that has antiviral properties.

At Napiers we use combinations: Echinacea and Elderflower Compound and we also produce an Organic Echinacea and Elderberry Throat Spray. These are both now prescription only since the advent of the THMPD regulations. The latter is particularly handy for first line defence as the bottle is easy to carry around in handbags, rucksacks or briefcases to be sprayed into the mouth as soon as people around you start coughing and spluttering.

We also use Elderflowers in an old Rickard Lane’s licence originally called Peppermint and Elderflowers with Composition Essence. It’s license indication is as a traditional herbal remedy for the relief of the symptoms of colds, chills and influenza. Elderberry extract is also made by other companies such as Sambucol.

Each year I make as much elderberry extract as I can from the berries I can get my hands on. This autumn I have also been making combination batches of elderberries and rosehips to maximise the Vitamin C and the antiviral properties. In the office several of us have been hit by swine flu – we haven’t been tested so assume it was that, and if not it was another very nasty flu virus. Those of us who got it and immediately started high doses of elderberry did indeed get over it much quicker and with less painful symptoms than those who didn’t. Echinacea is the classic herbal immune system booster but with influenza, elderberry really is my ‘drug of choice’. If you can’t make your own, use a combination remedy from Napiers or use Sambucol or another elderberry extract.

For those of you interested in the clinical evidence, here goes:

Link to the US National Library of Medicine

Link to Herbal Science Group

Monica Wilde
Research Herbalist
October 2009

References
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  1. Barak V, Birkenfeld S, Halperin T, et al. The effect of herbal remedies on the production of human inflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokines. Isr Med Assoc J 2002;4(11 Suppl):919-922.
  2. Bitsch I, Janssen M, Netzel M, et al. Bioavailability of anthocyanidin-3-glycosides following consumption of elderberry extract and blackcurrant juice. Int J Clin Pharmacol Ther 2004;42(5):293-300.
  3. Ernst E, Marz RW, Sieder C. [Acute bronchitis: effectiveness of Sinupret. Comparative study with common expectorants in 3,187 patients]. Fortschr Med 4-20-1997;115(11):52-53.
  4. Forster-Waldl E, Marchetti M, Scholl I, et al. Type I allergy to elderberry (Sambucus nigra) is elicited by a 33.2 kDa allergen with significant homology to ribosomal inactivating proteins. Clin Exp Allergy 2003;33(12):1703-1710.
  5. Guo CT, Takahashi N, Yagi H, et al. The quail and chicken intestine have sialyl-galactose sugar chains responsible for the binding of influenza A viruses to human type receptors. Glycobiology 2007 Jul;17(7):713-24.
  6. Gray AM, Abdel-Wahab YH, Flatt PR. The traditional plant treatment, Sambucus nigra (elder), exhibits insulin-like and insulin-releasing actions in vitro. J Nutr 2000;130(1):15-20.
  7. Hassid S, Choufani G, Nagy N, et al. Quantitative glycohistochemical characterization of normal nasal mucosa, and of single as opposed to massive nasal polyps. Ann Otol Rhinol Laryngol 1999;108(8):797-805.
  8. Jaber R. Respiratory and allergic diseases: from upper respiratory tract infections to asthma. Prim.Care 2002;29(2):231-261.
  9. Konlee M. A new triple combination therapy. Posit Health News 1998;(No 17):12-14.
  10. Milbury PE, Cao G, Prior RL, et al. Bioavailablility of elderberry anthocyanins. Mech Ageing Dev. 4-30-2002;123(8):997-1006.
  11. Neubauer N, März RW. Placebo-controlled, randomized double-blind clinical trial with Sinupret® sugar coated tablets on the basis of a therapy with antibiotics and decongestant nasal drops in acute sinusitis. Phytomedicine 1994;1:177-181.
  12. Richstein A, Mann W. [Treatment of chronic sinusitis with Sinupret]. Ther Ggw 1980;119(9):1055-1060.
  13. Roy S, Khanna S, Alessio HM, et al. Anti-angiogenic property of edible berries. Free Radic Res. 2002;36(9):1023-1031.
  14. Wu X, Cao G, Prior RL. Absorption and metabolism of anthocyanins in elderly women after consumption of elderberry or blueberry. J.Nutr 2002;132(7):1865-1871.
  15. Zakay-Rones Z, Thom E, Wollan T, et al. Randomized study of the efficacy and safety of oral elderberry extract in the treatment of influenza A and B virus infections. J Int Med Res 2004;32(2):132-140.

Rose hips: Winter ‘Vitamin C’ Syrup

Ripe Rosehips

Ripe Rosehips

Rose hips are extremely high in Vitamin C and also contain Vitamins A, D (made by sunshine and often missing in the winter months) and E, as well as antioxidants. The syrup makes a great winter medicine to help ward off coughs, colds and flu, especially for children as it is also pleasant tasting.

Rose hips are best picked after the first frost as this helps to break them down a bit. So late October/early November is the best time. They should be scarlet red and firm. Hips that are deep red and soft are overripe and have less Vitamin C. Orange hips are not quite ripe.

Traditionally, wild rose hips are use (Rosa canina) the dog rose or briar roses, but the hips from all species of  rose can be used. But do make sure you are not picking from buses that have been sprayed with chemicals.

Rosehip syrup is just another name for a thick extract a.k.a. cordial a.k.a. squash and can be taken neat off a teaspoon  like a medicine, or diluted with water as a drink. Adding fizzy water makes a great ‘children’s champagne’. It can also be used as a syrup on ice cream and puddings, or stirred into yoghurt or cream fraiche for a healthier alternative.

Keep some hips back to dry and use in herbal teas. They make a great flavouring for less palatable herbs adding a sweetness and pleasant flavour and aroma. To dry them for teas, halve them and scrape out the seeds adding those to your syrup mix. Next time you are cooking, once the oven is switched off lay the hips out on a baking tray and pop into the oven while it is cooling to dry them out. Keep them in a brown paper bag (labelled!) until you are ready to use them. Add a generous pinch to other herb teas.

Rosehip Syrup

Remove any leaves or sticks and top and tail the hips removing the calyx and stubby end. Roughly chop or mince them and put them into a large saucepan. Cover them with water and bring to the boil. Boil for 15 minutes then remove from the heat and leave for 15 minutes. Then strain the mixture through a jelly bag. Put the mush back in the pot, cover with water again and repeat the process. Do not be tempted to squeeze the jelly bag as this can make the syrup cloudy or bitty. Also the fine hairs inside the hips can be irritating. I let mine strain overnight or while I’m away at work to help my patience!

For every litre of juice you end up with now add 250g of sugar. I use preserving sugar which has larger crystals and is quicker to dissolve. Stir over a medium heat until the sugar dissolves then bring to a rapid boil and boil continuously for three minutes. Now pour into sterilised bottles. I use screw top wine bottles (baked in the oven to sterilise them). Using a funnel, fill the bottles right to the very top so there is no/little air then add the screw tops.

Once the syrup has cooled it shrinks making a vacuum that helps to preserve the syrup and gives a satisfying ‘pop’ when the bottle is opened. Once the syrup has cooled it is also thicker – so do not be tempted to boil away at the syrup until it reaches the right consistency in the pan. If you do that, once the syrup has cooled it will not come out of the bottle again! I keep unopened bottles in a dark cupboard and opened bottles in the fridge.

If you can, get a few brown glass medicine bottles with screw tops from your local pharmacy or herbalist to put some of your syrup in. When treating children it definitely helps to have the right ‘effects’! This is a great way of making sure your kids have enough natural Vitamin C without buying them supplements which sometimes contain artificial C, bulking additives and colourings.