It's been quite a while since I've written a blog and I thought what better way to get back on the herbal horse than to share some musings about our current hottest seller, Elderberry Syrup! This is not a trendy product that will come and go after this year, but one of our most consistently purchased herbal elixirs during the winter months, and one that we get lots of excellent feedback about. Elderberry is here to stay!
Our native Elder tree here in the northeast, Sambucus nigra, or Black Elderberry, looks more like a large shrub than a tree and can be spotted in wet areas throughout the region. When I'm driving upstate in the late spring, I love to look out the window and spot elder along the NY Thruway, up in the Catskills in fields and near lakes or right here in the city where you can find it in both Central and Prospect Parks. Once you know elderberry it is quite easy to identify with it's distinctive compound leaves and creamy white umbel flowers which bloom in late May and into June. Like the berries, elder flowers are anti-viral and support immune function and we love it at this time of year as a tea for colds and flu and particularly for sinus issues. You can drink it on it's own, or in combination with herbs like yarrow, peppermint, cinnamon and hyssop, to name a few. But if you're going to gather elder flowers, be sure to leave plenty of flowers on the tree so you can return in the fall to gather the deep purple berries used for infusion (a strong, long-steeped herbal tea), tincture making and of course some delicious elderberry syrup.
We carry 3 different syrups at Remedies, each made by small, women owned businesses and each a little different. The Remedies classic elderberry syrup is made by our very own Jo Anne Richards of Peony Rose Botanicals and we can't seem to keep it in stock this year, no doubt due to the flu and various other bugs that have been going around pretty aggressively this last month or so. One of the unique things about this tasty syrup is that Jo Anne preserves it not just with local honey but also an elderberry brandy that she makes, so you get both the water soluble properties of the plant along with tincture of elderberry! This is the one to take on a regular basis to keep your immune system humming and you can increase your dose if you start to come down with something. It is an excellent general cold and flu remedy for the whole family. If you've ever stopped in the shop on Christmas Eve, this is the syrup that we share with our customers in a glass of prosecco or seltzer every year!
Next is the Elderberry Elixir from Susanna Raeven of Raven Crest Botanicals who makes her syrup with the addition of marshmallow and licorice roots, making it an excellent choice for those experiencing throat irritations and coughs, as those herbs can help to soothe and calm such symptoms. She also includes concentrates of blueberry and pomegranate whose high vitamin C content transforms this syrup into a real antioxidant powerhouse, further adding to it's immune boosting benefits. And like all of our syrups, it is quite delicious, especially for those who like it sweet!
Another fan favorite comes from Anja Schwartz Rothe of Fat of the Land Apothecary who blends her syrup with a combination of adaptogenic herbs, which work to counteract the effects of stress and to bring the body back into balance. As such, this elderberry syrup is an excellent choice for those who feel run down and depleted, those with low immune function who really need to recuperate and start to bring their energy back. To use Anja's words, it is a "potent antiviral, adaptogen, antioxidant & immunomodulating syrup to energize and support your body's natural defenses, helping prevent or recover from cold, fever & flu. This blend is a warming, aromatic, and slightly spicy powerhouse of energy and well-being." In addition to the elderberries, it includes fresh ginger root, schisandra berry, siberian ginseng root, rhodiola root, Hudson Valley apple cider vinegar & cinnamon.
So, whether you're feeling good and looking to support your immune system so you stay that way, starting to come down with something, in the midst of the mayhem or coming out of an illness, elderberry syrup is here to support you. You can read more about elderberry's ability to inhibit the flu in this recent study out of Australia, confirming the benefits of this wonderful plant for people of all ages.