With cold and flu season upon us, autumn is a time when many seek immune system support. Below is a recipe for Elderberry-Astragalus-Rosehip syrup, a tasty and immune supportive formulation that is simple to make. First, I'll share some information about these plants.
Elderberry: At the Bundesforschungsanstalt Research Center in Karlsruhe, Germany, scientists found that elderberry anthocyanins enhance immune function by boosting the production of cytokines. These proteins act as “messengers” to help regulate immune response, helping to defend against disease. The anthocyanins found in elderberries also possess more antioxidant activity than vitamin E or vitamin C. Elderberry was listed in theMosby's Nursing Drug reference for cold and flu, nasal and chest congestion, yeast infections, and hay fever. In Israel, Hasassah's Oncology Lab is using it to treating cancer and AIDS patients.
At Austria's University of Graz, researchers found that elderberry extract also reduces oxidation of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, which is correlated to cardiovascular disease.
Astragalus: According to David Hoffman’s Medical Herbalism, “Astragalus appears to strengthen both specific and non-specific immunity… Astragalus is one of the herbs known to stimulate the body’s natural production of interferon… The polysaccharides in astragalus intensify phagocytosis… and has been used to treat leukopenia, or low white blood cell count.” (532)
Astragalus is an adaptogen, a class of herbs offering “non-specific” support for physical, mental, and emotional stress across multiple body systems. It also helps to protect the liver from damage. Lucky for us, it is also mildly sweet and tasty! Some enjoy adding astragalus to soups; in traditional Chinese medicine, astragalus is considered to be a safe, gentle, long-term tonic.
Rosehips: A “hip” is a small, hard fruit produced by flowers like roses after they flower. Any variety of rose, wild or cultivated, produces edible hips. Though they are high in vitamin C, many are not especially tasty. Hence, their use in making hot teas and syrups, where they are often blended with tastier herbs while adding an attractive reddish color to the blend.
According to the “Herb Wisdom” database, rose hips “contain 50% more vitamin C than oranges [by weight]. A single tablespoon of the pulp gives an adult more than the recommended daily allowance of 60 mg.”
Hoffman, David. Medical Herbalism. Rochester, 2003.
Elderberry Astragalus Rosehip Syrup Recipe
Makes 3 cups. Elderberries and rosehips can likely be found in a thicket near you, at the right time of year (elderberry: late summer/early fall; rosehips I harvest in the fall in upstate NY). These herbs can be obtained from your local herbalist, or ordered online from an ethical company such as Mountain Rose Herbs.
1 qt water
1 oz. dried elderberries
0.7 oz. dried astragalus slices
0.5 oz. dried chopped rose hips
1 C honey
In 1 quart water, simmer herbs until liquid is reduced by half. Strain out herbs with cheese cloth. Stir honey into warm liquid until dissolved. Bottle and keep refrigerated.
Enjoy medicinally (1-6 dropperfuls or up to 1 tsp, 1-3x daily), and/or in the kitchen (in smoothies, tea, oatmeal, on pancakes, etc.)
Based on a recipe from herbalist Rosemary Gladstar.
*For educational purposes only. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.