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Natural Cold/Flu Remedy: Elderberry Syrup



In preparation for the arrival of our second child, Eli James, in just a couple of weeks..still can’t believe it..I have had it on my “to-do” list to stock our natural medicine cabinet to help keep our growing little family healthy throughout the winter months.

On my list of things to make was elderberry syrup for its wonderful health benefits I will talk about here in a second.

I honestly wasn’t sure if I was going to get around to making this before Eli made his grand debut, but after visiting our local farmer’s market this past weekend I no longer have to worry about that because Booth’s Brew has started selling elderberry concentrate (slightly different than elderberry syrup..more on that later also) along with his incredible kombucha!! If you haven’t tried his kombucha, you are seriously missing out. You can read more on the benefits of kombucha here and here.

Anyways, as far as the elderberry concentrate goes, I was so excited because not only will this save me time from having to make my own, but I get to support local business! Win win! When I purchased this, the owner of the business told me that he planned on continuing to sell his products throughout the winter months even after the farmer’s market dies down and no other vendors are setting up anymore. He plans on setting up at the farmer’s market as more of a ‘drive-by, pick-up’ set up on the side of the road. Not sure how that will look, but just make sure to follow their Facebook page to stay updated on when he will be there and what he will be selling.

What exactly is an elderberry?

Elderberries are small, dark berries that grow in clusters on elder trees/elderberry bushes.



They are very common throughout Europe and North America. There are many types of elderberry tree, however Sambucus nigra is the species used historically as a medicinal plant. For centuries the fruits from this tree were prepared by early settlers in Europe and North America into a black elderberry syrup to be used as a remedy for fevers associated with the cold/flu.

The berries like to grow in the moist soil along roadsides and can be easily identified when the berries are fully ripened and in their purple clusters usually at the end of the summer and early fall. The trees they grow on would look something like this..



If you don’t live near any elderberry trees (which I do not) and wish to get ahold of some elderberries, you can always just order some off of amazon too, like these. It’s good to be alive in America today. If I ever make my own one day, that is what I will do. If you do purchase or pick your own berries, just make sure to not consume these berries raw as they are not safe for consumption. You also will not want to consume the berries if they are red! The berries need to be cooked before becoming safe for consumption!!

What are the health benefits of elderberry?

Multiple clinical trials have been published on the ability of elderberry to shorten the length of time we suffer from cold or flu symptoms, including this study published in 2016.

Three specific ways that elderberry boosts our immune system and thus helps fight off the cold/flu include the following:

1.Regulates and Increases cytokines activity in our immune system

Cytokines are a large group of small proteins within the body that play a major role in our bodies immune system. When our body is infected with a virus like the flu, cytokines are the messengers that will send a signal out to other parts of the body that we are under attack. When released by our white blood cells, they tell the next defense mechanisms in line where to go and what exactly to do. Once the message has been delivered effectively, our immune system will go to work to attack any possible threat within the body.

One particular study published in 2001 showed that elderberry initiated a significant increase in the inflammatory cytokines (IL-1, IL-6, IL-8, and TNF-a), most notably the cytokine TNF-a.

All of these cytokines cause inflammation or swelling within the body. When our bodies are under attack by a virus or illness, inflammation is a GOOD thing. It is our bodies natural defense force that is fighting the possible threat.

In conclusion, this particular study showed that elderberry may be very beneficial at activating our healthy immune system.

2. Are an excellent source of antioxidants

The black elderberry plant contains many small molecules known as flavonoids which display high antioxidant activity. Antioxidants are known for their protection within the body against free radicals that can damage human cells.

Flavonoids also help fend of pathogens and allergens.

3. Display natural anti-viral activity

While further work is still necessary to prove these theories accurate, early stage experiments are demonstrating that certain chemicals within the black elderberry can actually block infection by directly inhibiting viral activity. One particular study published in 2009, suggests that it can do this by somehow staining and coating the exterior of the virus, rendering the virus non-functional. In particular it can do this with both the influenza A and B virus as well as the herpes simplex virus-143.

What’s the difference between elderberry concentrate and elderberry syrup?

So now that you know all the reasons you should consider adding elderberry to your natural medicine cabinet, let’s talk about the difference between the concentrate I bought at the farmer’s market vs. an elderberry syrup.

The only real difference between the two is that elderberry syrup has a natural sweetener like raw unfiltered honey added to it as a preservative so that it will last much longer without spoiling. The additional benefit to adding a sweetener like raw unfiltered honey is that it has its own natural anti-viral properties as well and it makes it taste much sweeter and less like medicine which can be a win for parents trying to get little’s to take it!

If no sweetener is added, the concentrate will not last as long at all. It will last anywhere from 3 days in the fridge to a week or two max. You should be able to tell if it has gone bad by the smell and taste. It would be more sour. You don’t want to consume the concentrate if it has gone bad. The sweetener will allow you to store your elderberry syrup in the fridge for about 3 months.

How to make Booth’s Brew Elderberry Concentrate into a Syrup?

Note: If adding honey, this recipe should not be consumed in children under the age of one!

If you are going to buy the concentrate that has already been made for you by Booth’s Brew, all you will need to do is pour your concentrate into a small pot on the stove and bring to a low simmer. In order to preserve the health benefits in the honey, you want to make sure to not overheat it. Once the concentrate is warm, stir in a 1:1 ratio of honey to the concentrate until combined will. So, if you have 1 cup of concentrate, you will want to add 1 cup of raw unfiltered honey. Once they are combined well, pour back into your glass jar and store in the fridge for up to 3 months.

What is the proper dosing?

Conveniently, Booth’s Brew provides a nifty little laminated card upon purchase that has the proper dosing instructions on it. You can see this in the picture at the top of this post. You will want to make sure to keep this handy in case you forget!

The dosing for prevention and daily immune support is the following:

  • Adults: 1 Tablespoon daily. You can take it straight up or I like to add mine to a nice warm cup of tea.
  • Children: 1/2 tsp-1 tsp. daily

If you end up coming down with an illness it is recommended to simply increase the frequency of taking it:

  • Adults: 1 Tablespoon every 3 hours until symptoms go away
  • Children: 1/2 tsp.-1 tsp. every 3 hours until symptoms go away


Recipes to follow if you prefer to just make your own:

While I encourage supporting local business if you can, I understand not everyone will be able to make it out to the farmer’s market to purchase some of Booth’s Brew’s elderberry concentrate. If you would prefer to just make your own, I have provided what looks like good recipe resources below to do so. There are also good quality elderberry syrup’s sold at most health food stores you could just purchase. They just tend to be much pricier.


Hope this helps keep you and your family healthy through the cold winter months! 



All About Collagen and Gelatin + My Favorite Way To Get More Into My Diet

If you follow me on social media, you most likely see me post every now and then about my favorite collagen and gelatin supplements sold by Vital Proteins.


Vital Proteins Gelatin and Peptides


I get asked questions about these products quite frequently and social media just isn’t the space to answer ALL the questions, so I finally am getting around to making a post that will explain a little bit more about what both of these products are exactly, why I personally have chosen to add it in to my and my families regular nutrition plan (including my toddler), and how I like to use it on a regular basis.

If after reading this post you decide you would like to try either of these products or try any of Vital Proteins other wonderful products, I would GREATLY appreciate you ordering through my affiliate links provided on this page. I do get a small commission for every purchase made through my personal links which supports my efforts of sharing this FREE information with you all on this blog. And for the record, I only share with you all products that I personally use myself and 100% believe in and think you may benefit from as well. Thanks in advance!!

What is Collagen?

Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body. It ensures the cohesion, elasticity and regeneration of all of our connective tissues including our skin, tendons, ligaments, cartilage and even our bones. It also helps provide structure to our hair and nails.

To have a better idea of the role collagen plays in the various different parts of the body I’ve broken it down for you below:

  • Skin: Approximately 70% collagen
  • Ligaments: Approximately 70% collagen
  • Tendons: Approximately 85% collagen
  • Joint Cartilage: Approximately 70% collagen
  • Bones: Approximately 90% collagen

As we age, we naturally start to produce less and less collagen. This process of producing less collagen starts around the age of 30 and will accelerate as we head into our 40’s. As collagen levels naturally begin to decline, unless we choose to supplement or increase the amount of foods in our diet that contain high amounts of collagen, like homemade bone broth, signs of aging will inevitably begin to set in. Certain signs of declining collagen levels within the body may include dehydrated/thinner skin, wrinkles, brittle nails, fragile and more breakable bones, joint discomfort and hair loss. Supplementing or increasing your intake of collagen through other whole food options thus may help support your body’s overall levels and may slow the signs of aging.

Collagen specifically contains 18 amino acids, including 8 out of 9 essential amino acids. It is characterized by the predominance of the amino acids glycine proline and hydroxyproline. The amount of glycine and proline in collagen is specifically 10-20% higher than in any other proteins, both of which are important for a number of things including protecting/healing your gut and stomach lining, preventing ulcers and GERD, supporting digestion, and promoting a better night’s sleep.

How Do I Get More Collagen in My Diet?

The most natural way to get more collagen in your diet would be to make your own home made bone broth from responsibly sourced bones, like these. When bones from healthy and responsibly raised animals are slow cooked in filtered water, the collagen from these bones is released into the broth and is freed up for consumption. Below is a great recipes to follow to make your own collagen rich broth.

You could use homemade broth as the base to any of your favorite homemade soups or just drink it straight out of the mug in replace of your morning coffee or tea.

If making your own broth doesn’t sound very practical or like something you will realistically do, then supplementing with a high quality collagen protein would be the next best option in my opinion. My personal favorite collagen supplement is Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides. It is very high quality and the collagen comes from the bones of grass-fed, pasture raised cows. Don’t worry though, while most of their products are sourced from grass-fed cows, if you are a vegetarian they did not forget about you!! They also have a Marine Collagen Protein powder that is made from the bones of wild-caught snapper fish.

Vital Proteins Marine Collagen 2


Most of their new flavored beauty waters also include marine collagen. I have not personally tried these but they look delicious if you want to spice up your water game!!! Flavors include lavender lemon, melon mintcucumber aloe. and strawberry lemon. Strawberry lemon flavor was the only one I did not see was sourced from Marine Collagen.

Vital Proteins Beauty Waters 1

What’s the Difference Between Collagen Peptides and Gelatin?

I mentioned earlier that my other favorite product sold by Vital Proteins is their beef gelatin. So, what exactly is the difference between the Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides and Vital Proteins Beef Gelatin? Well, as far as health benefits go, really not that much!  The amino acid profile is EXACTLY the same! Collagen peptides just has the proteins in smaller pieces because of the more intensive processing that it goes through. Because the proteins are broken down into much smaller pieces in collagen peptides, this product does tend to be much easier to digest for some people than gelatin.

Both products are sourced from the bones of healthy, sustainably raised animals.

The main difference is simply their chemical properties.

Collagen Peptides dissolves in both hot AND cold water, making it easy to add to pretty much anything you would like (hot tea, water, coffee, soups, oatmeal, yogurt, smoothies etc.)

Gelatin dissolves ONLY in hot water. When it is placed in cold liquids, it causes the liquid to gel. For this reason you would use this product for different culinary purposes. Think homemade jello, pudding, gummy snacks, popsicles, etc.

Why Do I Use Vital Proteins Products?

Well, for the numerous health benefits I mentioned above that both of these products provide, I have chosen to use this fabulous product almost daily!

A couple of things I have personally noticed since I began regularly using their collagen peptides and gelatin..

  • much stronger nails that grow so quickly!!
  • clearer skin
  • better digestion
  • a reduction in hair loss, especially after having a baby

I used both of these products all throughout both of my pregnancies and nursing. Of course, always check with your doctor before beginning any new supplement, especially when pregnant, but this is very safe and may benefit not just you but your baby as well!

As for my little girl (who is currently 21 months), I use both of these products in her foods as an easy way to sneak in high quality, very easy to digest protein into her diet. This is especially nice when kids are picky.

By the way, both the collagen peptides and beef gelatin products have no flavor which makes it that much easier to sneak in for little ones and convenient to add to pretty much anything you would like also without compromising flavor.

Favorite Ways I Use Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides

  • Mix 1-2 scoops in to hot herbal tea in the morning
  • Add 1-2 scoops into a smoothie
  • Mix 1-2 scoops into oatmeal (Harper LOVES oatmeal, so I typically add 1/2 -1 scoop to hers to balance out this meal that is naturally much higher in carbohydrates.)
  • Mix 1-2 scoops into a glass of unsweetened almond milk

Favorite Recipes I Use Vital Proteins Beef Gelatin In

  • Homemade Fruit Snacks (Wellness Mama) – This is a great snack to have on hand for little ones! Harper LOVES these. I love that I know what’s in it and it is free of high fructose corn syrup, food dyes and any other artificial ingredients.
  • Dairy-Free Fudge Pops (Against All Grain) – This is another great snack for little ones, but adults will love this one just as much!! I made these all the time over the hot summer months for Harper and she could not get enough of them. This recipe doubles as an incredible chocolate pudding recipe also. Just put the ingredients in the fridge in a bowl and let sit until gelled instead of pouring it into popsicle molds. You could eat it straight out of the bowl or it would make a great dip for fresh fruit!

I hope this helps if you have been considering trying out their products!! I highly recommend them.

I haven’t tried all of their products, but they have a TON of great stuff. I personally like the two products I discussed and provided links to in this post because they are unflavored, which makes it easy to add to anything, but they have a lot of great flavor options if you prefer that as well. Some other flavor options for the collagen peptides include vanilla and dark chocolate and blackberry. Would love to hear from you if you try anything else to let me know what you think!

Shop All Vital Proteins Products Here

Vital Proteins Collection 1






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