Tried It

Respect Your Elderberries

Hey good people,

It’s that time of year where the weather is cool, warm beverages are the drink of choice, scarves are worn as a statement piece and for warmth, and people are coughing and sneezing everywhere.

I was the child who became ill every time the weather changed. In North Carolina, the temperature can jump by 20 degrees in either direction during the day. (Literally, last Wednesday, we had 10 inches of snow in some areas with 20 degree temperatures. By Saturday, the temperature reached a peak of 68 degrees.)

You can imagine the number of colds and sniffles I had growing up.  As an adult, I deal with year-round allergies. Zyrtec is one of my best friends. I often tell my hubby that I pray our babies inherit his strong immune system. (I’m so serious!)

My family, particularly my Papa, would always advise me to wear a hat during the fall and winter weather, to “keep the heat from escaping your head.” Obviously, the weather doesn’t make you develop a cold or the flu; it’s the combination of poor hand hygiene and people spreading germs through the air that cause the illnesses (PSA: cover your cough and sneezes with tissue or the bend of your elbow, and wash your hands!). But for folks like me with sensitive sinuses that react to abrupt temperature change, staying covered up is vital.

During this pregnancy, I’ve worked hard to keep my immune system strong: consuming green smoothies, keeping my Vitamin C intake high, and staying covered up during the fall and winter weather changes. But, one side effect of pregnancy is the surge of hormones raging through your body. These lovely hormones cause women to have that famous pregnancy glow and have strong hair and nails. They also cause you to be warm–all the time. I am a walking oven! Needless to say, I wasn’t dressing properly for the cool, windy weather, allowing my sinuses to be affected. And people in my office were getting sick.

The following week, my throat was a bit scratchy, but I brushed it off. Unfortunately, the scratchy throat evolved into a sore throat with plenty of sinus drainage and eventually congestion. A few days later, I woke up feeling miserable.

Mothers are well aware of the struggles of being sick while pregnant; you look and feel horrible and are limited in medications to treat the symptoms. Initially, to treat this cold, I gargled warm salt water, drank plenty of tea, and fussed at myself for trying to rock some fly twist outs without covering up properly.

fly twist out = not wearing a hat or headband

By the next day, I was feeling progressively worse. I opted for acetaminophen, vitamin C, diffusing essential oils, and more tea. The following day was even worse than before; I was forcing myself to eat and drink fluids and was starting to get achy. I knew I had to find another solution.

I had read about elderberry syrup and its strong potency at treating the cold and flu, but had never thought of using it-until now. Elderberries are fruit from the Sambucus plant that is known for its ability to boost the immune system, fight viruses such as the cold or flu, alleviate sinus pain and congestion. Other uses for elderberries include treating heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and high cholesterol–though the evidence supporting these uses is limited.


Elderberry syrup is safe to consume during pregnancy (I confirmed this with my midwives). I decided to give it a try…all I can say is Respect your Elderberries.

I had my first dosage on that Tuesday afternoon. In the wee hours of Wednesday morning, I woke up and realized I had been sweating in my sleep; I also realized my head wasn’t congested. Later that morning, my head congestion and cough were significantly reduced, and I no longer felt achy. I even had the energy to dance around the house! By that Friday, I was feeling back to normal; the only issue I dealt with until the following week was extra mucous.

Ideally, elderberry syrup or extract should be consumed within the first 24-48 hours of a cold or flu. I was right at 72 hours by the time I had my first dose. Still, for me, the effects were significant. If you’re looking for a natural remedy to boost your immune system and fight against the cold or flu, I’d highly suggest elderberry syrup! And it tastes good!


You can purchase elderberry syrup in your local wellness shops, or make your own by boiling dried elderberries in distilled water, straining the mixture and adding cinnamon, ginger, and honey.

Stay healthy this winter!



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