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Monday, July 1, 2013

Coughs and Colds - Elderberry Tincture

The second subject we talked about at the Better Living meet-up was how to alleviate some of the common ills of winter, the primary one being the common cold.
There is much growing in our own backyards that we can harvest for simple remedies and unlike the commercial preparations in stores, natural remedies will work with your body to remedy the illness rather than keep masking the symptoms leaving the body to battle on trying to eliminate the germs.

Naturally there is a caution and warning.....
Just because something is natural doesn't mean that you can be careless with an ingredient or heedless of it's effects. The following is meant as general information and you should always research thoroughly and consult a medical practitioner such as a naturopath or herbal pharmacist. 

Two books that I have found invaluable over many, many years are
"Health Through God's Pharmacy" by Maria Treben
"The Natural Health Book" by Dorothy Hall
I have already posted previously here about the Common Cold recipe by Dorothy Hall here
and I urge you to read that post for a simple practical hot toddy that helps the body eliminate its ills. It has a base of lemon, so cleansing and astringent and readily available in winter, like nature knows what to provide each season.

The tincture in the first photo is from these elderberries I picked and made back in early autumn in anticipation of winter colds. Unlike the delicious rosehip syrup with it's big hit of vitamin C, the tincture is made with an alcohol base and no sugar, so it really is more like a "medicine" as my tasters found at the meet-up. 
Elderberries are quite a super berry. Loaded with Vitamin C &A they are also thought to be anti-viral,  anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory. All very helpful qualities during the onslaught of a cold. Removing the berries from the stems requires patience and I like to do it with bowls on my lap in front of TV or listening to music. The stems, bark and leaves can have a purgative effect and if ingested brings on vomiting and diarrhoea. Likewise their seeds in large quantities so that is why they are heated and the pulp extracted.
Once you have the berries place them in a saucepan on low heat with a scant amount of water, cover and stir  and mash releasing the juices (much the same process as in the rhubarb cordial recipe) The recipe I use from Tina Sams also has ground ginger root and ground cloves. There are many recipes available on the net but I highly recommend this story here on 
and I have been very happy with my purchase of the e-book "An Elder Gathering" from the same site.
Once you have extracted the juice, allow to cool slightly and then place into a wide mouthed jar and cover the berries with alcohol (I see nothing wrong with gin) and tighten a lid on and shake gently to combine. Place it in a dark cupboard and strain into bottles after two weeks and label. 
The recommended dosage I use is 30ml adults every 3hrs and 15ml for children every 3 hours when needed.

We talked about thyme, nettles, rosehips and ginger....but that is another post. 


  1. I'm trying to get elderberries to grow. I've killed one tree so far. I think it's a bit warm here. You pass on so much great info, Tanya. Thank you!

  2. Great post Tanya !
    We were bought up on an amazing liquorice and echinaceae tincture which the 70's health food shops all sold. Always was brilliant but you just can't buy it now. There are still heaps of rosehips about, might have to try a rosehip jelly for colds.

    P.S. I have had loads of trouble getting elderberries in pots to establish, the best method is in Winter we cut a finger thick stem and just shove it in the ground where you want it to grow (cutting should not be hollow but pithy).


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