Natural LivingBoosting Immune Systems with Elderberry Syrup September 11, 2019 This post is sponsored by Birds & Bees Teas. All ideas and opinions are 100% my own. I’ve heard about Elderberry Syrup and its’ immune boosting powers for awhile now. I know many families use it for support during cold and flu season and some use it daily as a year-round preventative. After learning more, I am so excited to add it to our daily immune boosting protocol. Having kids has made me take a deep look into our immune systems. While I was exposed to plenty as an adult and occasionally got sick, it was nothing compared to what young kids are exposed to. Let’s just say, they don’t have the same personal space and social boundaries we adults do, am I right, mamas? I can’t count the amount of times I’ve watched them share someone’s water bottle or put toys in their mouth at church nursery. While strengthening our bodies and supporting our immune systems is always a good idea, when kids start spending more concentrated time with other kids outside the home, it’s a necessity. With back-to-school in mind and my kids getting out of the house a bit more to be with groups of children, I decided it was definitely time to re-vamp our immune focus at home. We’ve done a few things to support it in the past, but have gotten lax with those this summer. And have experienced a month of passing around sickness! It’s interesting to look at the pattern and realize we always get sick when our nutrition has been poorer, we’ve gotten less sleep and have less routine, and my usual immune boosting focus of roller bottles and supplements hasn’t gotten used daily, if at all. It happens, right? We all get busy and intention slips away in the name of convenience. But now is time for this household to take it back, friends. We’re getting back to the routine of early bedtimes and balanced, whole foods AND daily focus on immune-building. One thing I’ve learned about supporting the immune system is it needs daily strengthening to be strong. Our tendency is to think of it when something hits, but what we want to do is daily support the immune system so that it’s strong BEFORE it encounters something. Then, when you are fighting something off, increase your “dosage” of daily immune protocol. We are finally diving into the world of Elderberries and adding it to our daily immune boost! Elderberries are super high in antioxidants, but what really gives them their immune boosting power is that they’re the best antiviral. They’re safe for all: pregnant women and kids alike. You can buy elderberry syrup over the counter, but like I do with most things, I like making my own where I can. I’d read recipes and saw it was so simple and I really like being able to choose the ingredients that go into what we consume. But in this case, choosing the ingredients isn’t just to reduce our exposure to processed foods or toxins. It’s choosing wholesome ingredients along with my elderberries so that the immune boosting power isn’t compromised. Our immune systems are tied to our gut health, so processed foods, sugar, chemicals and toxins are not going to do us any favors. I had no idea where to buy elderberries for the syrup and started searching around for organic dried elderberries. That’s when I discovered Birds & Bees Teas. I did some research and got to talk to their founder, Jen, about the brand’s products and goals. Do you guys know that feeling when you meet someone new, you discover you have such deep shared interests and you just know, “I’ve met my people?” That was the exact feeling I had when talking to Jen. She has a Bachelor of Science in Herbal Studies and created Birds & Bees Teas out of a desire to get the best quality loose-leaf tea for medicinal purposes in the homes families like mine. I learned so much from talking to her about the healing power of plants. Y’all know how much I believe in that with my love of essential oils, but our conversation took my plant-love to a whole new level. We talked about the difference in using oils from plants and drinking tea made with plants, how they extract different nutrients and benefits from the plant and it’s beneficial to use both. I could totally geek out and talk all about the science she shared that fascinated me, but I’ll just say, for the first time since college, I wanted to go back to school to an Herbal Studies program and learn more! Who knows, maybe one day I will. All of the recipes I’ve found for Elderberry syrup use plain dried elderberries. What led me to Birds & Bees was their Family Immunity Loose-leaf tea. What I didn’t know before finding them is that loose-leaf tea can be used for more than just tea! You can use it to make hot tea, iced tea, syrups, gummies, popsicles…the list goes on! Loose-leaf tea is better for you (when it comes to medicinal purposes) than a traditional tea bag. It’s stronger because the cell walls haven’t been broken down like they have with herbs chopped into a tea bag. It’s similar to food – the less processed the better. As soon as you cut into anything, the essential oils escape, are oxidized, and the power of the plant changes. Family Immunity Tea has an elderberry base, but has added ingredients for extra benefits. Here’s a breakdown of the ingredients and their benefits: Using this loose-leaf tea to make your syrup vs. only dried Elderberries is going to give your syrup a better flavor, but as you can see, a huge health and immune boost as well! The Family Immunity tea comes in a cute little tin, or you can also buy it in a bigger bulk bag, which is what I’ll be doing from now on! We love this stuff. If you prefer using strictly elderberries or are sensitive to Cinnamon, Birds & Bees also has dried organic elderberries that you can use. Now, let’s talk recipe! I’ve seen a lot of recipes with oils added for extra immune boosting properties and y’all know, I love that! I add Copaiba for its anti-inflammatory properties, Thieves for its powerful immune boost, and Frankincense for its cell-repairing properties. For young kids, I add no oils. For my kids at their ages, I just two drops. Quick sidenote about ingesting essential oils: it’s imperative that you have top-quality oils in order to ingest. I use Young Living’s vitality oils that have been evaluated by the FDA for internal usage. You want pure, therapeutic, organic-grade oils if you’re planning to ingest. Now, let’s talk instructions. It could not be simpler! HERE’S HOW YOU MAKE IT: First, boil 4 cups of water. Add 1 cup of Family Immunity Tea and simmer for 45 minutes. Once you have a rolling boil, add in one cup of Family Immunity Tea and reduce to a simmer. You want to simmer for 45 minutes to really break down the plants and extract the full benefits into the water. You’ll notice it’ll reduce a significant amount and will thicken slightly. Mash the berries once it is cooled. Strain the mixture into a bowl. Add the honey and mix thoroughly. Raw honey has huge health benefits as well, so while it adds flavor, it’s also adding a health boost. You want to make sure your honey is organic and top quality. Divide into jars for storing. Add any desired oils and stir. This made two jars, which was perfect for making a version for me and the kids. If you like yours strong (or if you have sensitivity to cinnamon or certain ingredients), you could also add a drop of any or all of the following: Cinnamon Bark, Nutmeg, or Clove. Put the lid on a store in the refrigerator! We’ll take a teaspoon of this every morning, so I think this batch should last us a month or so! Every time Dax has his morning spoonful, he shouts, “More pease! More pease!” The flavor is great with the tea blend and the honey. I love the spice-filled kick mine has from my oils and clearly, the kids are loving it too. Thanks Jen and Birds and Bees Teas for teaching me more about the healing power of plants and for sending these teas our way to give a try! We love them.