Chai Infused Elderberry Syrup


It is so important to support our immune systems in order to fight off the inevitable cold and flu season as fall sets in. One of the ways we are taking extra special care of everyone in our home this year is by making one of my absolute favorite elderberry soups. Before we talk about its preparation and the recipe, let’s look at how our immune system works. The more we know the better we can take care of ourselves!

Understanding the Immune System

The immune system keeps a record of every microbe it has ever defeated, in types of white blood cells (B- and T-lymphocytes) known as memory cells. This means it can recognise and destroy the microbe quickly if it enters the body again, before it can multiply and make you feel sick.

Some infections, like the flu and the common cold, have to be fought many times because so many different viruses or strains of the same type of virus can cause these illnesses. Catching a cold or flu from one virus does not give you immunity against the others

The main parts of the immune system are:

  • white blood cells

  • antibodies

  • complement system

  • lymphatic system

  • spleen

  • bone marrow

  • thymus

Natural Modalities to Support the Immune System

According to research from PubMed on the effects of Elderberry extract on the immune system and influenza: 

“Sambucus nigra L. products - Sambucol - are based on a standardized black elderberry extract. They are natural remedies with antiviral properties, especially against different strains of influenza virus. Sambucol was shown to be effective in vitro against 10 strains of influenza virus.”

Elderberry is used for “the flu” (influenza), H1N1 “swine” flu, HIV/AIDS, and boosting the immune system. It is also used for sinus pain, back and leg pain (sciatica), nerve pain (neuralgia), and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).

Some people use elderberry for hay fever (allergic rhinitis), cancer, as a laxative for constipation, to increase urine flow, and to cause sweating. Elderberry fruit is also used for making wine and as a food flavoring.

Elderberry syrup is used for acute flu symptoms. You can purchase pre-made syrup from your local health food store, but the homemade version works just as well and is much less expensive in my experience. Standard dose is 1/2 tsp to 1 tsp for kids and 1/2 Tbsp to 1 Tbsp for adults. If the flu does strike, we take the normal dose every 2-3 hours instead of once a day until symptoms disappear. For our family, this is our first line of defense against the flu and we haven’t gotten it in several years


Benefits of Essential Oils on the Immune System

Essential oils are aromatic molecules distilled from plants that work with the human body to bring body and mood support. They can be inhaled, applied to the skin, or ingested if using Young Living Oils. 

Antimicrobial properties found in research from PubMed:

  • A 2017 study Trusted Source found that low concentrations of cinnamon and clove oil had high antimicrobial activity against persistent cultures of Borrelia burgdorferi, the causative agent of Lyme disease.

  • A 2018 study Trusted Source found that vapors of cinnamon oil inhibited the growth of respiratory pathogens like Haemophilus influenzae and Streptococcus pneumoniae in a petri dish. But eucalyptus oil had little activity.

  • A 2012 study Trusted Source showed that eucalyptus oil had antimicrobial activity against two types of bacteria that can cause disease in humans: Escherichia coli (E. coli) and Staphylococcus aureus (skin infections).

  • Overall, fewer studies have been performed on lemon oil. But two studies from 2019 observed that it has some antimicrobial properties.

Other Factors that Support the Immune System

  • Reducing stress 

  • Adequate sleep

  • Nutrition 

  • Water

  • Removing environmental toxins

Chai Elderberry Syrup Recipe

My fall recipe pulls together many of the things listed above, like elderberry and cinnamon, that help our immune systems fight off bacteria and become stronger.



  • 3½ cups water

  • 2/3 cup black elderberries (dried, or 1 1/3 cups fresh or frozen)

  • 2 TBSP ginger (sliced)

  • 1 - 2  cinnamon sticks

  • 3 cardamom pods crushed

  • 4 clove buds

  • 5 peppercorns

  • 1 anise star

  • 1 cup raw honey

  •  2 drops thieves vitality

  • 3 drops lemon vitality



  1. Pour the water into a medium saucepan and add the elderberries and spices.

  2. Bring to a boil and then cover and reduce to a simmer for about 45 minutes to 1 hour until the liquid has reduced by almost half.

  3. Remove from heat and let cool until it is cool enough to be handled.

  4. Mash the berries carefully using a spoon or other flat utensil.

  5. Pour through a strainer into a glass jar or bowl.

  6. Discard the elderberries and let the liquid cool to lukewarm.

  7. When it is no longer hot, add the honey and oils.  Stir well.

  8. When the honey is well mixed into the elderberry mixture, pour the syrup into a  mason jar or 16 ounce glass bottle of some kind.

  9. Ta-da! You just made homemade elderberry syrup! Store in the fridge and take daily for its immune boosting properties. Some sources recommend taking only during the week and not on the weekends to boost immunity.

Tip: to make it last longer. Add ½ cup brandy to the syrup. You can use less honey if you use this method.

Let me know in the comments below what you think of the soup once you make it or if you have any further questions about natural oils and elderberries. I hope you and your family stay in good health this season!