The Secret to a Strong Immune System

About six months ago I discovered a miraculous immune boosting secret, and haven’t gotten sick since. Not even a sniffle. There were chances, sure. Say, when my boyfriend had a cold and I still kissed him goodnight each evening — or when my coworkers violently coughed six inches from me in a meeting. The germs have undoubtedly been there, but my secret weapon has held strong.

By now, you probably want me to cut to the chase, so here it is: elderberries. Also known as Sambucus Nigra, you might recognize the name from popular drinks such as Sambuca, St. Germain, and Elderberry wine. The flowers, roots, and berries from the plant can be used, but it should be noted that the berries are actually poisonous until ripe. To be safe, they must be cooked. Aside from their easily avoidable dangers, elderberries are full of vitamins A and B, and they contain a very large amount of Vitamin C. They are said to actually stimulate the immune system, and in doing so can help fight off illness, whether it be the flu, a common cold, or infection.

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How do you actually use them? I like to simmer my elderberries into an herbal tonic with ginger, cinnamon, and clove. I then add honey to make the mixture into a syrup which I add to morning smoothies and tea. You could also stir it into oatmeal, yogurt, or anything else that you add sweetener to. Other times, I’ll simply add the elderberries to hot water along with chamomile flowers for a settling evening tea. All it takes is just a little bit each day to keep that immune system strong.

To get you started, here is my recipe for elderberry syrup.

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2 tbs elderberries

1 cinnamon stick

5 cloves

1 inch ginger, cut into approx. 6 chunks

5 cups water

1/4 cup honey

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Crock pot or large pot for simmering

Fine mesh strainer


Glass jars for storing


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  1. Add all ingredients except the honey to a crock pot or large pot and simmer for 1-2 hours.
  2. Remove from heat, and ladle into glass jars through a mesh strainer to catch all the berries/ginger/etc.
  3. Let cool for 15 minutes or so.
  4. Add honey and stir.
  5. Let sit out until fully cooled, and then store in the refrigerator.

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fp madisyn
9 years ago

This is just the read that I needed.. I’m constantly getting sick!! Beautiful pictures Naomi (as always)!

Stevey Lupo
9 years ago

Where do you find your elderberr?

9 years ago

Stevey, I usually get mine from Mountain Rose Herbs:


9 years ago

I bought a premade Elderberry Syrup from the Vitamin Shoppe. That along with vitamin C, apple cider vinegar, and a good diet have kept me from getting sick for an entire year!! I used to get a cold/sinus infection every 2 months. Very exciting for me!!!

pauline macadam
3 years ago
Reply to  Maggie

Yes so did I for my friend who had an immune system constantly bothering her. It was WONDERFUL, but now I can’t seem to find it. Boots ad it but have no recollection of my order. Maybe I will try the vitamin shop too? Thanks for your tip.

9 years ago

I eat blueberries and cinnamon daily. Rarely get sick and I’m probably three times your age. Berries are “the bomb.”

9 years ago

I want to give this a go! I’m so curious about the taste :)

Warm Regards,

9 years ago

There’s also a great homeopathic elderberry medicine, called Sambucal, you can get in any drug store. They come in syrup, lozenge, or gummy form, and work great for fast relief of sore throats or early flu symptoms!

9 years ago

I’ve never tried elderberries before! Sounds like a great combo!

9 years ago

I agree with all of these! During and since chemo I used them all and my immune system stayed strong! Great post (:

9 years ago

I had no idea! I will definitely be making this and taking it daily – I need a good immune booster, especially since when I’m sick I’m prone to lung infections. Thank you!

Julie // Northern Rustication

9 years ago

I have a terrible immune system, thanks in part to year long allergies and am always on the lookout for new ways to improve my health. Thanks for sharing I can’t wait to try it out. To be fair it just sounds tasty!!

Clouded |

9 years ago

As a cancer survivor, Im always looking for things that boost my immune system. During the winter I am constantly roasting garlic heads and eating them. I also make my own ginger tea. I boil about 2 inches of peeled thinly sliced ginger and drink. Sometimes I add lemon or local honey. Anything leftover I keep in a mason jar and reheat as needed, adding more water. It’s so yummy, I hardly think of it as something that’s good for me. Also, a good dose of Vitamin D helps me avoid colds and as well as the flu.

8 years ago

I haven’t exactly had elderberries…but I have had a few elderflower spritzers in my life. Though, I don’t know if they carry the same nutrients and boosters. I shall do more research soon. Thank you!

8 years ago

I don’t think I’ve ever seen elder berries before – where is the best place to buy them?

Either way, 110% saving this for these last few months of winter – and every single winter to come.
I desperately need an immune system boost!


8 years ago

How long can you keep the syrup refrigerated?

8 years ago

FP’s health and beauty posts are always my favorites.It’s so refreshing to see natural alternatives to the mass produced man-made products we’re exposed to every day. Thanks for this post!

xo Katie

8 years ago

Absolutely love this idea! I brew my own kombucha so this may make the perfect base for a tasty new flavour!

Thanks for sharing :)

8 years ago

great idea!

8 years ago

Always love your photos :)

8 years ago

Love Berries! Thanks for the great article :)