Elderberry Tincture Recipe: A Cold and Flu Wellness Elixir
Learn how to make an elderberry tincture recipe with herbs as a natural wellness elixir for cold and flu relief. Discover the benefits of an elderberry tincture and how it can support immune health. Plus additional herbs you can incorporate into your tincture to create a natural remedy for cold and flu relief.
Cold and flu season isn’t quite the same these days. While I’ve always tried to take care of myself and support my immune health, this year I’m being especially diligent. This includes eating better and taking natural vitamins, supplements and adaptogens that help keep my body in optimal shape and boost immunity. However, as colds (and sometimes the flu) tend to be inevitable, this year I made an elderberry tincture recipe as a natural cold and flu remedy.
This natural wellness elixir is an alcohol based tincture made with elderberries and a combination of herbs that can aid in recovery times if I do get sick. Alternately, it can also be used as a preventative cold and flu wellness elixir if you are exposed to someone who is sick.
Elderberry Tincture Benefits
If you’re wondering, what is elderberry tincture good for, you need only explore the benefits of elderberry for the answer.
Elderberries are best known for their immune boosting support against colds and flu. Elderberries have been proven to support the immune system. In fact, one study show that elderberry inhibits the growth of respiratory bacterial pathogens and influenza A and B viruses after 48 hours. They are also high in antioxidants and vitamin C which can further boost your immune system and shorten the duration of a cold or flu virus. Therefore, when incorporated into an elderberry tincture recipe, you can naturally support your body’s immunity.
However, an elderberry tincture has additional health benefits other than its ability to serve as a natural cold and flu remedy. In addition to boosting immunity to offer cold and flu relief and expedited recovery times, an elderberry tincture can also help to relieve fever, skin irritations, seasonal allergies, sinus problems and rheumatic discomfort. Further, it’s believed to assist in the removal of toxins in the body as well as promote urine flow and bowel movements. You may also find that elderberry tincture benefits extend to aiding in the reduction of inflammation in joints, tendons, muscles and ligaments.
All of the benefits of elderberry combine to make it wonderful choice for an herbal wellness elixir.
Benefits of Other Herbs in My Elderberry Tincture Recipe
You can make a simple elderberry tincture recipe using only elderberries and alcohol. However, I really wanted to create an herbal wellness elixir that helped with a variety of ailments related to cold and flu relief, as well as immune health. Therefore I included four additional herbs in my elderberry tincture recipe, in addition to the elderberries, that work well throughout cold and flu season both for symptom relief and to boost immunity.
Along with the elderberry in my wellness elixir, the other herbs include calendula, chamomile, hibiscus and ginger. In addition, I also used honey to sweeten the tincture and for its antimicrobial properties. Bourbon was also used as the alcohol base to create the tincture. Although any 80 proof or higher alcohol will also work fine.
Calendula Benefits for Colds and Flu
I often use calendula infused oil for its skin care benefits because it is so wonderful for dry or damaged skin. However, calendula is often overlooked for its health benefits. In addition to promoting skin health, calendula can likewise be used to support your immune system for natural cold and flu relief.
When taken internally, or infused in a tincture as is this case, calendula can help boost the body’s immune system and protect against bacteria and viruses. In a study, a calendula tincture was shown to have antimicrobial properties.
Chamomile Benefits as an Antiviral
Chamomile isn’t just for a relaxing cup of tea; it’s also a powerful herb to support your immune system. Chamomile has many benefits, and it can help boost your body’s natural immune system to fight off infections. Studies suggest that chamomile is antiviral when you drink it, so it makes a great natural cold and flu remedy.
Hibiscus Benefits for Immune Support
I added some hibiscus to this wellness elixir recipe for several reasons. The first is that it tastes too, with a sweet yet tart taste. It helps offset the other herbs for a more palatable drink. Secondly, hibiscus has antiviral properties, which makes it a natural cold and flu remedy.
In addition, hibiscus is also rich in vitamin C, an essential micronutrient shown to contribute to your body’s immune defense.
Ginger Health Benefits
Ginger is often used in cold and flu relief recipes because it can help relieve an upset stomach naturally. Ginger is also antibacterial, so it may be able to kill germs when taken internally.
Additionally, ginger can help dilate your blood vessels to boost circulation. It works as a catalyst, helping to move the other ingredients through your body for quicker relief.
I particularly love ginger for its anti-inflammatory properties. It also adds a nice bit of spice to my herbal wellness elixir recipe.
Raw Honey Benefits
I added raw honey to my wellness elixir recipe as a natural sweetener as well as for honey’s natural benefits for your body. Honey is naturally antimicrobial, so it can kill germs and support your immune system. Furthermore, honey can help naturally relieve coughing.
While I specifically used Bloom Turmeric & Orange Blossom Infused Honey to make my elderberry tincture recipe, you can use any quality, raw honey of choice. Another great option for this wellness elixir is manuka honey. Alternately, you can also use vegetable glycerin.
Using Alcohol to Make Elderberry Tincture
You can honestly use any alcohol for to make an elderberry tincture recipe. While I chose to use bourbon for my wellness elixir, moonshine, whiskey, vodka and brandy are also great choices for making an elderberry tincture. If you have a good bourbon or moonshine on the shelf for drinking, feel free to use that. Otherwise, I recommend getting whatever is cheapest (and won’t give you a headache) if you want to cut costs. (I used Evan Williams Black Label which is 86 proof, and significantly cheaper than my preference of Woodford Reserve.)
For best results, you should use an alcohol that is at least 80 proof (40 percent) alcohol, although 120 proof is best if it’s available to you. You need to use a high proof alcohol when making your tincture as its acts as a preservative to extend the shelf life of your herbal wellness elixir.
The alcohol is also used to solubilize the elderberry tincture and extract the benefits from the herbs. The alcohol is necessary to extract the health benefits from the herbs in order create a natural cold and flu remedy.
Although the elderberry tincture dosage is small, be mindful that you will be drinking an 80 proof (or higher) alcohol. So it’s important be responsible and refrain from operating machinery or motorized vehicles right away, especially in the case of larger doses.
Elderberry Tincture vs Syrup
What is the difference between an elderberry syrup and a tincture? Both elderberry syrup and tinctures are made with elderberry. However elderberry tincture vs syrup yield a number of differences, primarily in the process of how they are made as well as the length of the shelf life.
Elderberry syrup is perhaps the most popular natural cold and flu remedy. I’ve been using my own elderberry syrup recipe for years. However, I’d never tried elderberries in a tincture before. When I first discovered elderberries could be used in a wellness elixir in combination with other herbs, I knew I had to make my first elderberry tincture.
The main difference between an elderberry tincture and elderberry syrup is the alcohol. A tincture is basically an herb or combination of herbs with medicinal properties that have been infused in alcohol. After infusing the chosen herbs for four to six weeks, the herbal material is then strained from the alcohol. The resulting tincture then retains the medicinal properties of the herbs used. In this case, an elderberry tincture is alcohol that has been infused with elderberries.
Elderberry syrup, on the other hand, does not contain alcohol. Typically, an elderberry syrup recipe is made with water, elderberries and honey (or sugar.) Although sometimes additional ingredients such as cinnamon sticks, ginger, lemon, clove and garlic are also added. Rather than infusing the elderberries in alcohol over a long period of time as with the tincture, elderberry syrup can be made in the same day. You simply simmer the elderberries in hot water for twenty minutes. Then remove the elderberries and add honey to taste.
Unlike an elderberry tincture, which is shelf stable, elderberry syrup should be refrigerated after it is made, and used within 2 to 3 months. An elderberry tincture, on the other hand, will last up to 5 years. (You can learn how to make elderberry syrup with honey here, as well as view step-by-step photos of the process.)
While neither of these products are by no means a cure, there is clinical evidence based off multiple studies that show that elderberry is effective at reducing the duration of cold or flu symptoms.
Where to Buy Herbs to Make An Elderberry Tincture
I buy my dried herbs from Mountain Rose Herbs. They have a large selection, and I like that I can get most herbs either in 4 ounces or in a pound. I usually use a pound of herbs between making soaps and other bath and beauty products, but sometimes I only need a few ounces for a specific recipe.
Another reason that I like Mountain Rose Herbs is because they sell organic products if they are available. If there isn’t an organic product available, they sell wild harvested or products made without any chemicals.
Uses for Elderberry Tincture
As soon as I feel that tingle that means the start of a sore throat or the overall tiredness that comes from a cold or the flu, I reach for this wellness elixir. Crafted using organic elderberries, chamomile, calendula, ginger and honey, this natural cold and flu remedy has antimicrobial herbs and vitamins that support your immune system.
This natural elderberry tincture works both as a preventative measure to support your immune system and as a natural cold and flu remedy. Therefore, you can take this wellness elixir once daily to help build your body’s natural immunity. Or you take this tincture several times day at the onset of symptoms, to improve recovery time and aid in cold and flu relief. I have provided directions for using my elderberry wellness elixir for both preventative measures as well as for treating a cold or the flu below.
Elderberry Tincture Recipe with Herbs
This elderberry tincture serves as a natural immunity cold and flu elixir. I formulated this cold and flu remedy using whiskey and plant materials based on their health benefits. However, vodka is also a suitable substitute for the alcohol called for in this recipe.
You can take this wellness elixir if exposed to the cold or flu as a preventative to boost immune health. Alternately, it may also be taken at the onset of symptoms to expedite recovery times and relieve nasal congestion and other annoyances caused by the common cold and flu as a natural alternative to over-the-counter drugs in your medicine cabinet.
Ingredients to Make an Herbal Tincture:
These are the ingredients need to make this herbal tincture for cold and flu relief:
2/3 cup dried calendula flowers
2/3 cup dried elderberries
1/2 cup dried chamomile flowers
1/2 cup dried hibiscus flowers
2 Tablespoons dried ginger root
Cover with whiskey or bourbon
2-3 Tablespoons raw honey
How to Make Elderberry Tincture with Honey
This simple elderberry tincture recipe only requires about five minutes of prep work. However, it does take four to six weeks to infuse the herbs in alcohol. Therefore, you need to plan accordingly. You’ll want to make this herbal wellness elixir right away for cold and flu season this winter. Next year, mark your calendar ahead of time. You should plan to make this elderberry wellness elixir in late summer, so it’s ready for the fall and winter cold and flu season.
Here are the instructions for making this natural wellness elixir for immune support:
1. To start, clean and sterilize a quart sized jar. Use measuring cups to measure out the herbs called for in the elderberry tincture recipe. Then fill the jar with the herbs.
2. Once all the herbs have been added to the mason jar, pour in the whiskey or bourbon. Use just enough of the alcohol to cover the herbs, then add an extra 1-2 inches of bourbon on top. You don’t want the herbs to be exposed to the air. The jar should be about ¾ full once filled with the herbs and liquid.
3. Now add the honey to the herbs and whiskey or bourbon mixture.
4. Use a chopstick or a butter knife to poke into the jar several times. This will release any air pockets and ensure that the herbs are completely coated with honey and alcohol.
5. Now screw on the lid to the mason jar and label it with the date.
6. Allow the elderberry tincture to sit for 4 to 6 weeks in a cool and dark place. I put mine in a cupboard in the kitchen. Shake the elderberry wellness elixir gently everyday to help the herbs infuse with the alcohol.
7. After 4 to 6 weeks, pour the herbs through several layers of cheesecloth or a fine mesh strainer to strain out the herbs. It will resemble a dark juice. You can use the back of a spoon to press the herbs to get all of the alcohol and honey out of them. I poured my elderberry tincture into a smaller sized mason jar. However, for best results and store, I recommend you use a funnel to fill several amber glass bottles with droppers instead, if they are available.
8. Now label the elderberry wellness elixir and write the date on it, so you know when it was made.
9. Finally, compost the spent herbs you used to make the tincture. You won’t be able to use them again.
How Much Elderberry Tincture to Take
You can take this elderberry tincture the same way you would any medicine, by the teaspoon. It can be taken as a preventative at a low dose, or to relieve symptoms and boost immunity at a higher dose at the onset of a cold or flu.
Alternately, you can also take this elderberry tincture in tea to make it more palatable. While it doesn’t taste as bad taking digestive bitters, another type of tincture, it does taste something akin to cough syrup. I recommend replacing the bourbon called for in my homemade cold remedy drink recipe with the recommended elderberry tincture dosage if you are sick, and actively fighting the cold and flu, to help alleviate the medicinal taste of the tincture.
Elderberry Tincture Dosage
To use this elderberry tincture as a preventative against cold and flu, take 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon 2 to 3 times daily.
If you are sick, take 2 to 3 teaspoons of my elderberry wellness elixir 2 to 3 times a day to help fight your illness, combat cold and flu symptoms and boost immunity.
How Do You Store Elderberry Tincture?
Your elderberry tincture is best stored in a cool, dark place such as a pantry or cabinet. Amber dropper bottles work best for storing tinctures as they help block out light and preserve their potency. They also make it easy to take a dose of the tincture as needed.
The tincture, properly stored, has a shelf life of up to 5 years.
Precautions When Taking Elderberry Tincture
It is not recommended that you take an elderberry tincture for longer than 12 weeks. This is due to lack of reliable data on outcomes of long term use. Further, pregnant and breastfeeding women should not take elderberry. If you have an autoimmune disease you also should not take elderberry without first consulting a physician, as it can stimulate your immune response and exacerbate the condition.
This herbal tincture is made using dried berries as the raw or ripe berries can be toxic. The seeds of raw elderberries contain a cyanide-inducing glycoside which can result of the buildup of cyanide in the body. In addition the raw berries may cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Therefore, berries should be dried or cooked before use for safety.
Elderberry Tincture Recipe
Learn how to make an elderberry tincture recipe with herbs. This wellness elixir for cold and flu relief offers benefits that support immune health.
- 2/3 cup dried calendula flowers
- 2/3 cup dried elderberries
- 1/2 cup dried chamomile flowers
- 1/2 cup dried hibiscus flowers
- 2 Tablespoons dried ginger root
- Cover with whiskey or bourbon
- 2-3 Tablespoons raw honey
- quart mason jar
- measuring cups
- chopstick or butter knife
- small funnel
- four 4 oz. amber glass bottles with droppers
- Clean and sterilize a quart sized jar. Fill with the herbs.
- Add whiskey or bourbon to cover the herbs. Make sure that you cover the herbs by 1 to 2 inches so they are not exposed to the air. The jar should be about ¾ full.
- Add the honey to the herbs and whiskey or bourbon mixture.
- Use a chopstick or a butter knife to poke into the jar several times.
- Place a cap on the jar and label it with the date.
- Let it sit for 4 to 6 weeks in a cool and dark place. Shake gently everyday to help the herbs infuse with the alcohol.
- After 4 to 6 weeks, pour the herbs through several layers of cheesecloth or a fine mesh strainer to strain out the herbs. Use the back of a spoon to press the herbs to get all of the alcohol and honey out of them.
- Use a funnel to pour the elderberry tincture into amber glass bottles with droppers. Label the tinctures with the type and date.
To use as a preventative against cold and flu, take 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon 2 to 3 times daily.
If you are sick, take 2 to 3 teaspoons 2 to 3 times a day to help fight your illness, combat cold and flu symptoms and boost immunity.
If preferable, you can use vodka to make this wellness and immunity elixir in lieu of whiskey or bourbon.
More Cold and Flu Remedies
If you enjoy my herbal wellness elixir, and want to make more cold and flu remedies like my elderberry tincture recipe, then be sure to check out my other cold and flu relief recipes.
- Fire Cider Vinegar Recipe for Cold and Flu Relief
- Homemade Cold Remedy Drink for Symptom Relief
- How to Make Custom Herbal Tea Blends for Colds & Flu
- Homemade Elderberry Syrup Recipe for Immune Support
- Golden Milk Benefits and Recipe for Immune Support
- Thyme Tea Recipe for Coughs, Cold and Congestion
If you’d like to learn more about herbalism, and the health benefits of other herbs, consider an educational course on herbalism from The Herbal Academy. You can also follow me across your favorite social media platforms for more natural health and wellness recipes. I am currently on Blog Lovin‘, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram. Or subscribe to my newsletter.
This article is not intended to provide diagnosis, treatment or medical advice and is provided for informational purposes only. Information on products mentioned are based on my own personal experience or research and have not been evaluated by the FDA. Please consult a physician prior to making any changes that may impact your health.
December 4, 2020 at 10:06 am
I knew about elderberries, but I had no idea the other herbs were so good for cold and flu relief. Thanks for the amazing recipe!
Rebecca D. Dillon
December 4, 2020 at 10:09 am
March 29, 2021 at 11:27 pm
Seems like with it being alcohol, sterilizing the jar would not be necessary.
Also, your recipe suggests fresh ginger cannot be used. I wish it could as I have a lot in the freezer.
October 17, 2021 at 9:22 pm
Where can a person purchase Elderberries? I absolutely love elderberry wine and I love and buy elderberry preserves/jelly.
Rebecca D. Dillon
October 18, 2021 at 4:25 pm
I’ve been buying mine from Mountain Rose Herbs for years. They have great quality!
August 30, 2021 at 4:37 pm
Can I use frozen elderberries instead of dried?
Rebecca D. Dillon
August 30, 2021 at 7:05 pm
Yes, you can thaw and use frozen elderberries.
July 28, 2022 at 7:02 pm
I’m currently learning about tinctures. I’ve seen vodka typically mentioned. Would honey help with the taste regardless of the alcohol? I currently make elderberry syrup but want an option that has a longer shelf life and doesn’t need to be refrigerated. But I don’t want it to taste terrible.
Rebecca D. Dillon
July 29, 2022 at 11:56 am
Honey definitely helps.
August 3, 2022 at 5:57 pm
Hi. Very informative, thank you. I’ve been hearing that fresh elderberry has cyanide in it and you should cook them first . What is your thoughts.
Rebecca D. Dillon
August 4, 2022 at 12:03 pm
This isn’t as issue if you are using dried elderberries to make a tincture.
September 21, 2022 at 12:06 am
I grow organic elderberries and make tinctures, elixirs, juice and syrup, and elderberry shrub (a beverage). I have a large crop this year and want to make some of it into tincture. I have always crushed the berries before soaking them in alcohol, which works of course, but then the straining through mesh cloth becomes quite a chore. So I am wondering if I can leave the berries whole, which is why I’m researching this on the net. I see that you use whole berries, and many others do as well. Are you convinced this method gives the best tincture? I might add that another drawback, for some, is that my tinctures contain a bit of the pulp. I actually like this as it gives added flavor. I’d very interested in having your opinion.
Rebecca D. Dillon
September 28, 2022 at 12:53 pm
You can definitely crush the dried berries first. As this is infused for so long however, it’s not necessary.
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