"Meanwhile', said Mr. Tumnus, 'it is winter in Narnia and has been for ever so long, and we shall both catch cold if we stand here talking in the snow. Daughter of Eve from the far land of Spare Oom where eternal summer reigns around the bright city of War Drobe, how would it be if you came and had tea with me?"   --C.S. Lewis

At the beginning of every year when winter is settling in, and the dark, cold days are confining us all to the warmth of cozy homes, I ritually go through my arsenal of herbs in my home apothecary and make sure I'm stocked up with my immune supporting remedies to tide me through the rest of the winter season. It's the worst when a cold sneaks up on me and I feel completely unprepared or didn't re-stock my cold and flu remedies (because I never want to venture out in the cold WITH a cold to get what I need) Among my essential immune remedies is my elderberry syrup tonic which is a lifesaver for preventative immune support. I take some of this elixir every day for at least half the year to help ward off colds and flu before it even settles in. 

Elderberries (Sambucus nigra) are fantastic little herbal powerhouses for immune support because they're not only acute remedies, they're fantastic as a long term tonic for prevention because they're antibacterial and antiviral. Energetically, elderberries are considered a cooling diaphoretic, helping to keep the body temperature modulated especially when you have a fever. The berries (and flowers!) are rich in antioxidants as well, supporting the cell membranes and reducing systemic inflammation. But my real devotion to elderberries is for their anti-viral properties, and in the winter months we could all use some support warding off viruses. To add to their charm, elderberries have been an herbal ally to people for centuries, and they're affordable, available and super easy to make an at home tonic whenever you need one. 

My recipe for Elderberry Syrup has shape-shifted for years until I landed on this one that has been my go-to recipe for a while now. It's of course mainly elderberry based, and I add in extra immune tonics like Astragalus, adrenal support with some Licorice, Vitamin C with orange peel, and spicy hot heat with chili pepper and ginger to get my lymphatic system moving (a BIG immune component in the body). A splash of honey gives it just the right amount of sweetness, and mixing it with a bit of sparkling or mineral water makes for a decadent bit of medicine. 

Ginger + Licorice + Elderberries + Astragalus + Chili pepper + Orange Peel

1 teaspoon elderberry winter immune tonic+ sparkling water = daily dose

Elderberry Winter Immune Tonic

2 cups filtered water

 1 cup dried elderberries

 1 tbsp cinnamon chips or 1 cinnamon stick

 1 tsp dried or fresh, chopped ginger

 1 tsp dried, chopped licorice

 1 tsp dried, chopped astragalus

 1 dried chili pepper

 2 tbsp honey

Combine in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Cover, and reduce heat to a simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and strain out the herbs completely, storing the syrup in a glass jar with a tight fitting lid. Take 1 teaspoon daily for deep immune support during the fall and winter (and mix with a little sparkling or mineral  water for an extra delicious dose!) Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.