Elderberry Alternatives


More often of late, I see people clamoring for elderberries (Sambucus nigra) to make remedies for the upcoming cold and flu season. It has reached such a state of desirability that it is now unavailable from many herb company distributors. This is cause for concern because the same thing happened to the Echinacea (Echinacea spp.) plant many years ago when it reached the latest ‘fad craze’ status.

People were touting Echinacea as the latest and greatest plant for bolstering the immune system. While it’s great that more and more people are returning to wellness through natural remedies, these sudden rushes towards one particular plant can have the potential to put them at risk. As of July 1st of this year, the Echinacea plant is still listed as being “at risk”. And because of its continued popularity, companies can demand as much as $32 a pound for the harvested roots.

To help offset any potential risk to elderberries, it is recommended that you alter your recipe with additional ingredients that will help to support your desired outcome. Find other plants that are immune boosting like ginger, turmeric, garlic, ginseng or cinnamon. Also add in ones for their antiviral properties like lemon peel. The point here is to diversify your recipe so that not any one herb is the stand alone star. If you look at my recipe for a Cold & Flu Herbal Honey, only 0.50 ounces of elderberries are used in the total weight of 2.45 ounces of plant material which were then infused in 20 ounces of honey. That recipe made a significant batch and I have a lot left after sharing it with others.

One last thing to keep in mind is if you do have access to harvest elderberries, please be considerate of how much you are taking. You really don’t need a lot of the berries to make an effective remedy. Unless it’s on your personal property, never harvest more than 10% of any plant; this percentage should be lowered if it is open for others to access; also consider the wildlife that may eat the berries.

Now that you are armed with new herbs to work with, go forth and stay on top of those pesky colds!

Until next time, discover the power of mindful plant usage.



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