Pregnancy Week 24: Flu Prevention

Pregnancy Week 24: Flu PreventionWith cold and flu season beginning, I have been thinking of how to help my family stay healthy naturally, especially with a baby on the way. My older boys are 2 and 5 now, so they touch just about everything every single place we go, with no discretion as to what goes into their mouths. A fan of germs, I am not.

As a first time mama, I became very interested in herbs and flowers and their healing properties. While I still believe in the powers of modern medicine, I tend to turn to my herbs and tinctures more often than the over-the-counter stuff. This summer, I managed to plant and harvest some herbs–namely mint, lemon balm, lavender and chamomile–for our own home use as teas, tinctures and salves.

After some research, I decided to make my own Elderberry syrup to help boost immunity and help cut the duration of colds. Elderberry (Sambucus Nigeria) is a small, dark berry from the Elderberry bush. While the berry itself is poisonous if consumed raw, once cooked it is harmless and full of antioxidants, tannins, sugars, amino acids, vitamins A and B, and a large dose of vitamin C. They have been known in folk medicine for generations, but are coming back into popular culture as people seek out a more natural lifestyle.

Personally, I love my elderberry syrup and my boys have come to ask for it whenever their throats hurt or they begin to feel crummy. We give the boys a teaspoon every morning during cold and flu season as prevention and every few hours if they are showing symptoms of a cold. For adults the dosage is a full tablespoon.

My boys really enjoy the taste and have started asking for it when their throats feel scratchy or hoarse. I combine this syrup with an onion cough syrup for a chesty cough and that usually nips it all in the bud. These syrups are not recommended for babies under a year old as they contain honey, nor should you use it if anyone is short of breath or having other severe symptoms. Seek medical help immediately.

To make my Elderberry Syrup, I put ½ cup of dried elderberries, 2 cups water, an inch of fresh ginger, 5 cloves and a cinnamon stick into a sauce pot. Bring it up to a boil and slowly simmer for 25 minutes until liquid is reduced by half. Strain and mix into 1 cup of raw, local honey. Mix well and pour into a mason jar for storing in the fridge.

Pia Watzig is a stay at home mom of two crazy boys with one more on the way. She lives and creates in Portland, Oregon.

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