Learn how to make and use an elderberry tincture to effectively battle viruses and boost the immune system!
Preface: I am not a medical doctor. Use your own discretion, momma gut instinct, and research to make a decision if the natural remedies discussed in this post are for you. Obviously if you or your child is not responding to natural remedies well, or symptoms become worse, seek medical attention. Product links in this post are affiliate links. It does not cost you anything and helps maintain the free information on this site, as well as answer the questions of “what brand do you use?” Please know I never personally recommend any product I wouldn’t use on my own family.
I will never forget the year I was sold on using elderberries during the fall and winter seasons.
It was my oldest’s first year of preschool. She was 3 1/2. And my goodness the little germy bugs that float around preschool rooms are enough to make your skin crawl! I had used elderberry syrup on and off up until then, but with our new found school schedule, and accompanying germ-fest, I came to heavily rely on the virus fighting capabilities that elderberries brought.
Every week or so there were emails home about croup bugs, hand foot and mouth viruses, flu, strep, and on and on and on….
We rode out that first year of school with just a couple minor colds, and I was sold. Yes there is a whole lot more to kids staying healthy during the school year than just elderberry syrup. But with as young as my first born was, and as unexposed as she had been (no daycare as a baby), it is pretty amazing she came out of that year with just a couple colds!
Elderberries have been known for centuries for their immune boosting abilities, and have been shown in studies to enhance immune system function for defending and fighting against disease.
Elderberries boost the production of cytokines, which are the body’s “messengers” for immune system defense. They are also filled with antioxidants for reducing inflammation in the body from being sick or under attack.
While we love our elderberry syrup, making an elderberry tincture just plain saves this busy momma time!
A tincture is simply a liquid extract of whatever herb you are looking to use. The herb components are extracted into alcohol or vegetable glycerine. Because it is so concentrated, the dosages are smaller, and you won’t be in the kitchen simmering elderberry syrup every 2 weeks to keep up with a houseful of school aged children!
Is it safe for children?
I happen to adore using tinctures for whatever ails my kids! It is so much easier to take than using a tea because the doses are so small and concentrated. The alcohol per dose is very minimal, however if that still doesn’t sit well with you, you can use vegetable glycerin for your tincturing. (I have not used vegetable glycerin for tincturing, so I apologize I don’t have a good source to recommend.)
Extend the shelf life of your elderberries!
Elderberry syrup lasts in the fridge about 2-3 months. Tinctures last up to 5 years. If you get to the end of the cold and flu season and find yourself with elderberries left, it is best to tincture them up to maintain their potency. I have found a 9 month old half-used bag of elderberries I forgot in the back of my cupboard only to open them up and find them moldy. Tincturing takes the guess work out of shelf life.
What you will need to make elderberry tincture
This is the best part! Brace yourselves…this is too easy!
- Glass jar with a lid (I like to use a pint mason jar with one of these lids – do not use metal lids as the alcohol will deteriorate it over time.)
- Dried elderberries
- 80 proof alcohol (such as vodka or brandy)
- 4oz Dark tincture/dropper bottles (I re-purpose old tincture bottles, but if you don’t have any, shop around your local health food store, or you can purchase them here.)
That’s it! And in less than 2 minutes you will be on your way to your own elderberry tincture!
Instructions for making elderberry tincture
- Fill your jar with about 1 cup of dried elderberries, cover the elderberries with the alcohol, and put the lid on.
- Gently shake the jar and leave it in a dark cupboard for 6 weeks. Gently shake the jar every day or so (I keep mine right by my coffee mug in the cupboard so I remember to do this most days of the week)
- After 6 weeks, strain the elderberries with a fine mesh strainer or thin kitchen towel and then pour the elderberry extract into your dark dropper bottle. Keep the elderberry tincture in a dark cupboard at room temperature. (PS! While you are waiting 6 weeks for your tincture to be ready, you can make elderberry syrup to use in the meantime!)
So how do I dose my elderberry tincture out of my 4oz bottle?
Adults (considered over age 12) ::
- When ill or at the sudden onset of illness: 2 droppers 3 times per day (2 droppers is about 1 teaspoon)
- When healthy but the kids are sick (or there is a lot going around the classroom): 2 droppers 1 time per day
Children (ages 5-12) ::
- When ill or at the sudden onset of illness: 1 dropper 3 times per day (1 dropper is about 1/2 teaspoon)
- When healthy but there is a lot going around the classroom: 1 dropper 1 time per day
Children (ages 2-4) ::
- When ill or at the sudden onset of illness: 1/4 to 1/2 dropper 3 times per day (1/2 dropper is about 1/4 teaspoon or about 5-10 drops)
- When healthy but there is a lot going around daycare or their sibling’s classroom: 1/4 to 1/2 dropper 1 time per day (or about 5-10 drops)
(Please note that under the age of 2, I tend to keep any elderberry useage to tea or elderberry syrup (using molasses or maple syrup instead of honey if under the age of 1). If you are nursing, you can take the tincture yourself and the herb will transfer to your breastmilk. While I do use some tinctures with my babies for teething or calming, I try to keep it limited because of the alcohol and their underdeveloped livers under the age of 2.)
Tips for taking elderberry tincture
- Tinctures can taste strong. I have found that my kids don’t bat an eye at them because they have been taking tinctures for various reasons since infanthood (such as teething tinctures and calming tinctures), and they are just used to them. Below are some things to keep in mind.
- Tinctures work best held under the tongue for about 30 seconds. Obviously young children do not do this, but as my girls have gotten older we make it a game by humming the ABC’s or Twinkle Twinkle Little Star while we hold it. You can dilute the tincture a little to tame the alcohol too.
- You can mix the tincture with a spoonful of raw honey, yogurt, or applesauce if you think the kids will take it better that way.
- You can dilute the tincture in a warm cup of water with raw honey to make a “tea”.
- While herbs work best on an empty tummy, just get it in when you can! I do shoot for in between meals, but in a houseful of busy kids that just doesn’t always happen.
More natural remedy posts you might like ::
- Tips For Keeping Kids Healthy All School Year Long
- How To Make An Onion Poultice For Chest Congestion
- Post Tummy Bug Recovery Smoothie
- Natural Remedies for Ear Infections
- DIY Electrolyte Drink
- Tummy Bug Remedies For Kids
- Elderberry Popsicles