Confused about Elderberry? Let’s Work on That.

Written by Annemarie Downs and edited by Erin Mann



This is gonna be long y’all. Hunker down. Wait, we already are, so you should have ALL the time in the world to actually read this!Image result for elderberries

I haven’t had the time to sit and write in a very long time, and I’ve been meaning to change that, but sometimes life is just too busy. When I saw numerous “articles” going around about elderberry and COVID-19, and I started getting mass emails about it, I knew the time had come to put finger to keyboard and write again.

But this time I was hesitant. I usually won’t hesitate to sit down and write about how the common collective is wrong, and how fear mongering by people who do little to no reading yet are so fast to share the article they only read the headline of are the cause of it, why they are so and give enough argument for my argument.

I own my own business now, a business tied directly to the very subject I wanted to inform people about. So how could I do that without seeming biased? Those that know me personally know that I am pretty darn good at being unbiased when I need to be. If there’s evidence and research to something, whether I like the results or not, that’s what I’m going to side with, regardless if it goes against what I wish would be the case. They also know I started my business for the sole purpose of helping and educating people, not to make money. That is still the case. I wanted my food line to be an extension of my blog/lifestyle facebook group, and not the other way around. I just wasn’t expecting the response I got when I officially got that business license and kitchen inspection!

The only way I thought I could bring a more unbiased article to fruition for those who don’t know me personally was to ask a fellow MOPs Mom, to write, and let me add/edit with her approval of the final draft. See, this woman, the author you will be reading below, she’s about as passionate about the truth, health and getting the BullSh*t out of the way. She’s bluntly honest, (to the point I had to remove some of the sarcasm from her writing, but left enough that I liked) and that’s what I like about her. So I messaged her and said “hey, will you be able to write an article for me on elderberry and coronavirus” I didn’t ask her to write “hey will you write an article on elderberry and coronavirus so people won’t stop buying my stuff”.

I had an issue with those who were sharing articles without reading them. I mean, don’t y’all know that headlines are written not on the basis of the article but on what makes you want to read the article..whether that headline is true or not…????? Like this article could have the title “Fish launched into space to avoid COVID-19”. And people would literally share it without even reading it…the only true part about the title is there will be some discussion on COVID-19. I don’t even need to mention a fish.

See, if I thought it was unsafe to consume during this time, I would shut down. Turn off the lights, ENJOY being stuck at home with my family, instead of staying up til 3amm, and killing myself to make enough orders for the next day. I didn’t start my business to make money, I started it to help people, to educate people, and when it doesn’t anymore, I will wipe my stained hands and turn off the lights! But I don’t believe I or other should stop.

I wholeheartedly believe elderberry can help, and I also think that it can hinder, and when you read below you’ll find out why. Nothing in this world, especially when it comes to health and how the body works for people as a collective, is exactly black and white. That’s why we have 4 different kids of blood pressure medicine, 40 types of birth control pills, etc. You have to find what works for YOUR body, and in these next few pages, we are going to try to make that abundantly clear with elderberry. We are all our own versions of the definition of health and healthy. I heard the comment “There is a distinction in good health and the absence of illness” last week while watching a TV show, and its right. There is a distinction, and everyone’s good health is also relative to that one person, no one else. Good health for me means no Ulcerative Colitis flares, no joint pain, no frequent bathroom trips, and good bloodwork results. I, however, am not absent of illness. I have UC, it isnt curable, and I’ll have it forever. But for me, I have my own “good health” definition, when I am maintaining, symptom and prescription maintenance drug free.

Now, of course, I am going to say right here, neither myself nor AnneMarie are doctors, we aren’t medical professionals, and this is a mom blog. The only difference in this Mom blog is that you are going to have mention of several different research studies with the links to them below the article. This isn’t a published research article, and its not even a research article to boot, because I just don’t have the time for a proper bibliography and citation. I’m also telling you I’m not going to take any responsibility for any action you take upon reading this, that this is for entertainment purposes only and this is an expression of my first amendment right. I am expressing my speech, and what you do from it is your responsibility. By continuing to read below this line, you agree to the aforementioned statement. If you don’t agree with it, you must stop reading here and close your window.

What I HOPE this does is make you wonder against all the random headlines you have seen on Facebook, and make you do your OWN reading of various articles both for and against elderberry. When you do that, you will start seeing that the interpretation of elderberry and coronavirus is usually about when you HAVE it, not BEFORE you get it. So read on, then go and READ more, as that is what the goal of my blog has always been, not to be the one stop to knowledge, but to inspire to not believe in one thing you read, and read a collective of things to make a firm hypothesis on your own!!

Bottom Line:

I know not everyone is going to read the entirety of this lengthy article, although it’s my hope you’ll make the smart decision to do so. For those who don’t have time to read it all but will come back, here’s the Cliff Notes version for you: It’s our opinion that using elderberry BEFORE you are sick is good to help keep you from getting sick. If you are having mild cold/flu symptoms is good to use at the onset, and If you are at the hospital and have been diagnosed with COVID-19, and/or are on a ventilator, it’s not a good idea to be consuming it.

Elderberry Plant and it’s Common Use:

I mean before we go all crazy on elderberry, do you even know what it is??? Do you know WHY it is so popular? The funny thing to me is, I heard a pediatrician say he is recommending against the use of elderberry syrup right now, pretty soon after there was talk about how he didn’t know much about it and wasn’t sure what it was good for. So why is he recommending against it? To cover his butt, because he hasn’t educated himself in any regard for it.

For those that don’t know, elderberry is the fruit of the Sambucus tree. There are several types, some grow to be very small and others can grow the height of a 3 story building. The are common in the wild here in Virginia, and grow wild all over the US and in Europe. Elderberry got is start way back when, for its anti-inflammatory properties. If you do your own reading on elderberry, you will see that due to its nutrient profile it has MANY uses other than just cold/flu treatment most people know it for.

In the last decade, most peer reviewed published research on the berry has been in the cold/flu section, and it has always found consistent results: elderberry can help with the treatment of flu, lessening the severity of symptoms and decreasing sick time by up to half. 1 Elderberry has been used for a really long time, and there is also documentation of use by Native Americans. If you want a full more in depth reading on the history of elderberry, this is a great paper written on the plant.

So how does this happen, all this human body health with elderberry? Elderberry has been found in studies to inhibit the ability of viruses to attach to cell walls and also inhibit the ability of it to inhibit viral propagation at later stages of infection, when cells had already been infected with the virus 2. Viruses don’t have cell walls, so they have to find them in their hosts and latch on. It isn’t like a bacteria that infects and we have to kill it off with antibiotics. What does this mean? It means that it was good at keeping the flu virus from infecting a person and getting them sick, it was EVEN better at attacking the flu virus once it had entered the cells. Elderberry had a great effect due to its ability to block the viral cycle at several stages, but was strongest when used together at pre-infection and during infection 2.

So What’s the Fuss about Then?

Ok, so let’s start to break it down. The FUSS is about the possibility or theoretical evidence that elderberry can cause a cytokines storm response in the body, thereby making COVID-19 worse. This statement right here is what all the fuss is about and also is the way people are reading it wrong. So let’s break it down the easiest way we can.

  1. First of all..if you read the original articles on fear of elderberry it is a. theoretical since there are no studies on it at all b. ONLY speaking to WHEN you are already sick with COVID-19 and your body is already producing its own cytokines storm. This doesn’t have any thing to do with before, or right at the onset of sicknes.. Make sense? It should. So stop saying that its bad in general.
  2. What in the ever love is a Cytokines storm? It sounds isn’t. It’s a body’s natural way of working on making you better. Can it do a bad job sometimes? Yeah it can..just like sometimes our organs dont work the way they should or our eyesight goes bad. Crap just happens that shouldn’t sometimes. Cytokines are both good and bad, They are a way our cells talk to each other. It’s only when they go insane and can’t be modulated or regulated that they kill us.
  3. Has elderberry been show to induce a cytokine storm? NO. There is no evidence base that it creates a storm. What studies do show (in the references from before…have you read them yet? Cause if you have you’ll already know this and I won’t have to explain it) is that elderberry can cause a cytokine reaction..a good one. The good kind you need for your body to do what it Is supposed to do and do it quickly 3. Elderberry is known as a modulator plant, meaning it does no more or no less in your body than it needs to, so the cytokines it does help your body produce is because your body hasn’t started producing them yet, and it wants to get to work on modulating the inflammation response to take care of the virus that is trying to attach. This goes back to why it is so good in research studies on keeping you from getting sick OR keeping those symptoms down and recuperation time down when taken at the onset of a viral infection.

Cytokine Storms:

Ok, so now that we know we shouldn’t be afraid of these natrually occuring processes in our body, lets understand exactly what they are and also how things can go belly up and fast if you are in one of the compromised groups. Let’s first say there is a difference between Cytokines being released and a Cytokines storm. Whenever you are sick cytokines are going to be released, its a good thing, it is when so many are released that your body can’t handle it, is when its bad. Just like insulin and your body, in healthy adults our pancreas releases insulin as it should to handle blood sugar, but sometimes, if things don’t work right, it can just dump it into our blood stream with no regulation and that is a bad thing!

A cytokine storm is an overproduction of immune cells and their activating compounds (cytokines), which, in a flu infection, is often associated with a surge of activated immune cells into the lungs. The resulting lung inflammation and fluid buildup can lead to respiratory distress and can be contaminated by a secondary bacterial pneumonia — often enhancing the mortality in patients 4.

This is why the population with the highest mortality rates with COVID-19 have been the elderly, those with a weakened immune system, any type of comorbidity or underlying health issue, smokers (yes, this includes those who vape), and also the obese (excessive weight on the body frame taxes the lungs a great deal).

A cytokine storm is the bodies complete and utter “overreaction” to a contagion. That overreaction causes such distress and releases such vast quantities of antibodies into your blood stream and organs that your body literally attacks itself if it can’t regulate.

Your body has recognized there is extreme danger but cannot single out or sniper shot the single organism responsible for it. So your body’s survival method then switches to the cytokine storm which essentially fire bombs every.single.organ. Now if this fire-bombing storm is happening in your body and you decide that your best bet is to take elderberry supplements of any kind, you truly are making it worse for your body. How? Well your body is already taking a Dresden approach to your entire system and you’re ingesting a compound that is proven to stimulate immune response as a defense against viral attack. You don’t need to do this!! Your body has already recognized it’s under attack! Feeding yourself elderberry will basically only signal your body that you’re sending in extra troops to help fire bomb!! Even though elderberry is known as a modulator, and shouldn’t help more than it needs to, that is in a healthy individual. In an individual like this, is when things can get really bad. Possibly. Not saying it will. Again, its all theoretical.

THIS is why there is a “mental link” out there that elderberry itself is the cause for worsening when in reality it’s ANY type of additional supplement you take at this critical time for your body. Elderberry is proven to boost positive cytokine response at a cellular level, which is a great thing 99.8% of the time, but when your cytokine response is already off the Richter scale, why would you boost it up even more?! Your body is a survival machine and, in a cytokine storm, it is in the most extreme state of survival possible, to the point of actually killing itself. This hyper-response MUST be slowed and stopped if you are to actually pull through this. Actively giving yourself MORE things that will stimulate immune response is the LAST thing you want to do. If you are in a cytokine storm or MODS, the doctors are trying to save you by actually mitigating or STOPPING your immune response before it kills you. Let the doctors do what they are trained to do: save your life!

Corticosteroids have a ton of studies done on them with MODS as a means of slowing or stopping the storm (there are really cool studies out there that show the slowing and healing of inflammation is incredibly helpful in slowing the immune response). There are new drugs being tested now that are looking to work better but still very new in the testing/trial phase. There is not just one drug out there yet that will stop this. Please do not think that this delicious syrup that lessened your regular flu symptoms will have the same effect on an extreme case of coronavirus.

Elderberry syrup is one of the many FANTASTIC weapons to have in your arsenal prior to getting sick, but is worth drastically more as a prevention to getting sick than it is as a means of fighting an illness with a severe mortality rate. This holds true for any and all of the other holistic, homeopathic, herbal, etc remedies I know of. Two years ago when one of my uncles was battling cancer, his doctors told him to stop taking his spirulina and turmeric supplements. Those things are intrinsically good and cause no harm in a regular body, but a cancerous body is not the same. His doctors explained that, much in the same way a pregnant mothers body will steal nutrients from the mother to feed the child in utero in a time of need, the cancer was stealing the nutrients from the spirulina and turmeric to help itself grow and his healthy body was not getting any of the benefits from them. This is a similar concept to the cytokine storm-elderberry link. Do not feed the flames; cut the source of oxygen off. Keep in mind that both cancer and cytokine storm are extreme responses in the body, not the average case, and AGAIN, you will know when you are that drastically ill. Know your alternative therapies. Do your research. Use them with guidance and intelligence. Love them. Do not ignore professional medical care in a time of evident crisis. Love them, too. Also, wash your hands.

Why Should I Take Elderberry? Are you taking it?

Multiple clinical studies have shown that elderberry works by actively blocking vital proteins from viruses from entering the cells, thereby not allowing the virus or bacterium to enter the actual cell and cause damage. Studies have also shown that the phytonutrients in elderberry will trigger positive cytokine production response in the immune system to fight the virus off (this is where the grain of truth “linking” elderberry to cytokine storms has its foothold remember) Your best bet to not get sickness of any kind, and to have a strong, healthy immune system and a quick immune response to pathogens. This is where elderberry shines its true light; by taking elderberry every day you are continually stocking your system with immune boosting responses while also protectively coating your cells so that pathogens cannot take root and reproduce inside the cell and perpetuate outside the cell. Doses of 10ml/day for healthy adults and those over 4 years of age and doses of 5ml/day for those 1-4 years old have shown phenomenal results in clinical studies. Again, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!!

If you skip days taking elderberry and you become exposed to a pathogen, that pathogen can take effect inside a host cell and rapidly reproduce. At that point, taking elderberry will help to mitigate, slow, and fight the infection, but the infection has already taken hold in your system, and elderberry will have a lot of work to do, as we’ve seen in studies, to mitigate that viral attachment that has occurred. If you are doing good to take elderberry during the first stages of sickness, you also have to keep your wits about you and adequately monitor your symptoms, be aware of their changes (both good and bad), and keep and heed your doctor’s advice should you need a doctor. Given the current panicked environment we live in, if you feel that you are falling ill faster than elderberry is helping you, speak to your doctor and stop taking the supplement if that is what you are advised to do or feel the need to do to calm yourself. The odds of taking elderberry syrup to the extent of it becoming a concern for either playing a part in causing or exacerbating a cytokine storm are very small, because fatal cytokine storm responses are very rare in general.

If that is your concern, please re-read the above paragraphs about a cytokine storm, its causes and effects, as well as the fact that there is no research out there that links elderberry to causing a cytokine storm in the first place. Or just re-read that last sentence. A cytokine storm is not something that will sneak up on you out of nowhere, three days after successively taking elderberry supplements. You will feel like absolute crap prior to it happening. You will be CLEARLY sick, if not already under professional medical care. If you are sick enough to be concerned about whether elderberry supplements of any kind are helpful or harmful to you, you are sick enough to be seeing a doctor and voicing your concerns to him/her.

Wash your hands, monitor your health and the health of those around you, and listen to your doctor! If you take good enough care of yourself prior to getting sick you will greatly diminish your odds of not only getting sick in the first place, but will also give yourself better fighting odds of beating whatever is attacking your system.


To sum up, Cytokines release is a good thing, and when too many are released without the body regulating it, it can be bad, fatal even. There is no scientific study link to elderberry causing a mass release of cytokines, aka a cytokines storm, only that elderberry is thought to release good modulating inflammation response cytokines. There is evidence that elderberry has the ability to block viruses from attaching to healthy cell walls and also modulate the release of cytokine response to flu viruses. One should definitely not take elderberry when a positive COVID-19 diagnosis has been made, or the person is in the hospital on a ventilator due to caution of the unknown. It sould not, however, be confused with the rumor and fear mongering phrases that elderberry use should be stopped completely by otherwise known healthy adults.

Are we taking elderberry in our home? You betcha we are. Are we also making sure we wash hands, sanitize clothing, get extra rest and eat a lot better at this point in time, yes we are.

Stay Healthy y’all!

-Annemarie is a wife and mother and active researcher and reader of all things, with a passion for making sure people understand when misinformed. Erin is a wife and mom, passionate about making sure the best information is always at people’s fingertips, and getting to the bottom of any question one may have.

Disclosure: Erin Mann, the owner of this website, is the owner of Erin’s Elderberries, LLC. She asked AnneMarie to assist her in writing an unbiased, science based article for publication. The article is not meant to drive sales or make money, the article is solely meant to inform and make people curious to further their own research of the topic. Erin strives to maintain an unbiased look at everything she does and promotes, because she is a Mom too, she only wants what is best for her family, and if she wouldn’t do or give something to her family, she definitely wouldn’t want yours to do it either!

This article is not meant to be medical advice and should not be read as such. The author and owner of this website does not take any responsibility for your health, actions or otherwise. You agree by being on this website that you are here for entertainment purposes only.


Photo credit: Rebecca Graney Photography


Welcome to Elderberry Syrup Season!

Welcome to Elderberry Syrup Season! We are going to learn about all thing Elderberry Syrup! Since this is a longer blog post than most I am going to list the main topics discussed so that you know what you will be reading about and also so you can scroll to find what you need!

a. How and Why I chose Elderberry Syrup for my family

b. Benefits and studies of Elderberries and Elderberry Syrup

c. Benefits of cloves, ginger, cinnamon and honey

d. Different in Cassia and Ceylon cinnamon

e. How to shop for honey

f. What to ask/look for when purchasing local or store elderberry syrup

g. Recipe and instructions for making my “Yummy Syrup”

h. Link to a special announcement regarding my Yummy Syrup, a local charity and the holidays!

When it come to germs, cold and flu season is probably one of the most dreaded seasons for parents, second being back to school time. Kids spread germs like wild fire and there is only so much we can do, but as parents we try our best. As a first time Mom, I am always up for learning new tricks or tips from others. Anyone that knows me knows that I spend a great deal of time going down whatever research rabbit hole that has caught my attention that week. I don’t do things all willy-nilly, there’s always a purpose to my methods or my decisions, and I wanted to share a decision I made for our family a few years ago.

You see, my son was sick at the time. He had just started preschool and pretty much kept a cold non stop, and with his severe allergies on top of that, I pretty much spent our days in the docs office, or the allergist, or with Lucas on my lap doing a nebulizer treatment. We were all miserable. Then, one day at the docs office I let them know that he hadn’t gotten his flu shot. His doc responded by saying, in a nut shell, that Lucas wasn’t healthy enough to get a vaccine. That his immune system had been compromised for so long that he wouldn’t advise it. I looked at him kind of in disbelief, and, knowing me, he then said straight out, “if he were my child I wouldn’t”. Well ok then. So we didn’t. So I went home petrified of letting Lucas out into the world. You read every day about the horrors of kids and what happens when they get the flu and I just couldn’t hardly handle it. For me, times like that, that is when I turn to my research. I guess it is my way of taking control so I don’t feel so helpless. So I got my handy dandy notebook out and started googling “keep your toddler safe from the flu”. I mean, you need something to start right? So the usual…wash hands, always change clothes as soon as you come home from school or the playground, sanitize phones, backpacks, etc every day. Then I stumbled on a mom’s blog: Elderberry Syryp to prevent cold and flu. Well, ok…click. So I read, and as I tried to keep an open, yet skeptical mind I was wondering how I had never heard of this berry before…and if the flu is so bad and this works so well, why isn’t it mainstream??? Before I let myself ask anything else, I then asked this: Is it scientifically proven? Have there been any studies done to back up these claims?

A quick run down on Elderberry:

Elderberry syrup has its roots in herbal medicine, it also has the scientific research to back it up. It is loaded up with Vitamins A, B, and C, as well as iron, potassium, phosphorus, copper, fiber, protein and antioxidants. Elderberry syrup got its headlining start in Panama in 1995 when it was used to treat an influenza outbreak. Since then, it has been studied in small randomized studies, all with promising results. One study found it helped reduce cold symptoms of airline passengers faster than placebo groups.1 Another study found it reduced influenza A and B symptoms by 4 days versus placebo group.2 It is a very promising anti-viral and anti-bacterial herb.

But wait! That’s not all! Here, we don’t just use elderberry syrup to ward off colds and flus. This is a short list to highlight some of the elderberry’s benefits. Find them all here. Helps with: digestion, constipation, reduces blood pressure, reduces LDL, expectorant for phlegm (great for bronchitis or asthma), protects against effects of autoimmune disorders, helps regulate blood sugar, promotes bone strength and lessens joint pain. So while the elderberry may be popular for cold and flu, it has some other health benefits as well.

Here are some study links for you to read when/if you have the time!

Now, most homemade elderberry syrup has these key ingredients: elderberries, cloves, ginger, cinnamon and honey. I want to discuss quickly why each of them have their place in your syrup.

Other ingredients:

Cloves are a spice that are usually overlooked and not thought of as a health spice. We use them come fall for a lot of our dishes, but until I started making my own elderberry syrup did I think of why. Vitamins found in cloves include: vitamin E, folate, niacin, phosphorus, iron, zinc, vitamin C, thiamin, riboflavin, and vitamin A and K. Minerals include: potassium, calcium, sodium, and magnesium. Cloves have long been used medicinally for bad breath, liver health, anti-inflammatory and anit-microbial properties. So it is no wonder why a dash of a few cloves goes a long way in your syrup.

Ginger is a well known spice with powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, so much so that is has been deemed a “superfood”. The bioactive substance in ginger, called gingerol, has been found to inhibit the growth of many types of bacteria, and studies are being conducted to test its ability to possibly fight off the RSV virus. (For us parents, that is huge!) Ginger has also been found to possibly aid in: lowering cholesterol levels, decreasing heart disease risk, lowering indigestion, and lowering blood sugar levels.

Cinnamon is one of my favorite additions to elderberry syrup, as it is probably the spice I have learned the most about in my elderberry syrup journey. As soon as I started making mine I was using whatever cinnamon stick I had in my cupboard at the time. One day, at a local health food store, I noticed there were 2 types of cinnamon, each drastically different in price. Same company, both organic, totally different names of cinnamon. So I took a pic of them and as soon as my son laid down for his nap I went to work…down the rabbit hole of google once again. What I found out was that there are 2 main different types of cinnamon in our American markets, each with their own health properties. I was using Cassia cinnamon, also coined “fake cinnamon”, which is what 90% of cinnamon sold in stores here is. Cassia cinnamon, if ingested regularly can cause a few different health issues, none of which are good. For starters, and the main con of Cassia is that it has high concentrations of Coumarin. Coumarin is an anticoagulant, which thins the blood, and has been shown to cause cancer in lab rats. The absorption rate of coumarin in cassia cinnamon has been found to be that of ingesting a pure form of coumarin itself. Research has found that the Tolerable Daily Intake of cassia cinnamon is .07mg per kg of body weight. Which means that for any adult OR child who puts cinnamon in their oatmeal a few times a week is reaching an exceeding daily amount when averaged out! 

So what is a better cinnamon? Ceylon. Ceylon is named “true” cinnamon. It is the cinnamon that carries all the wonderful health benefits, such as lowering blood sugar (a great spice for diabetics),lowering heart disease risk, preserving brain function, and relieving inflammation. Each serving of cinnamon also contains a small amount of vitamin E, niacin, vitamin B6, magnesium, potassium, zinc and copper. Studies have varied on exactly how much difference the levels of coumarin are in cassia vs. ceylon. It depends on the soil, growing conditions, etc. However on average, the amount in ceylon is 70 times LESS than that of cassia.

How do I tell the difference in the store? Well, price will be one thing. Ceylon is usually about double in price. Also, the label MUST be marked “Ceylon Cinnamon” for it to be actual Ceylon. Anything with just the one word cinnamon, well that is going to be Cassia. If it is in a glass jar and you can look at it, it is super easy to tell them apart. Cassia is a dark brown-reddish single piece of cinnamon that is rolled. Just one “layer”. Ceylon is a lighter brown, very fragile stick. You’ll often see little slivers or shavings in the bottom if the jar. Ceylon also resembles the layers of a cigar. It looks like you could sit and peel off later by layer. If you are at a market and can touch them, ceylon has some give (since it is fragile) and cassia is very hard. Lastly, ceylon has a very mild smell of cinnamon. Cassia smells like, well the potpourri you buy in the store at Christmas that has all the cassia sticks in it!Image result for ceylon vs cassia cinnamon


Lastly is the honey. Good ole’ local honey! Anyone that knows me knows that I am a honey critic! I search out the best honey I can find for the best price and I ask several questions about it, as I want the best health benefits for my family. I mean I’m going to war with cold/flu here, there’s no room in my syrup for ingredients that aren’t useful! There are 3 main questions I ask when buying honey: 1. Is it heated? You never want to buy heated honey,always raw (just don’t give this to a child under 1). When you heat honey above 105 degrees you kill off all the good anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties of the honey. 2. Is it filtered? Once filtered is okay with me, mainly because if my son sees anything in something he freaks out and refuses to eat it. If you are buying honey for its allergy benefits, you want as little filtration as possible. Pieces of pollen and comb are good, because you will be ingesting tiny amounts of this every day or every other day, which will slowly work towards protecting yourself against allergy season. So really, honey in elderberry syrup has 2 uses. First is fights against cold and flu with its anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties, and second, it helps prepare your body for allergy season in the spring and fall. Now, if you aren’t someone who has a family that suffers from allergies, then find a good raw honey and go with that, don’t worry about it being local. For allergy sufferers, research has shown that ingesting local honey for 4 MONTHS PRIOR to the start of the allergy season is the most beneficial. When you read about honey and allergies you find claims that it works and claims that it doesnt. Two things come to mind when I read these. First is that not all people are the same, one thing can’t help every single person. Second is that most people wait UNTIL they are sick to take action. They are reactive. Ingesting honey for allergies is a proactive approach. It takes time to work and for your body to build a tolerance up for itself. It doesn’t happen within a day or a week, it needs time. This is why it is a great addition to elderberry syrup. You are already taking it every day starting in November and going through March (the end of flu season). This basically does double duty for you, and when the spring comes and everyone around you has scratchy eyeballs and a sore throat, you will realize “hey, that’s not me anymore!” I can say for our family, this has been amazing. I realized just how bad my allergies were when I was pregnant with my son and wasn’t allowed to take my allergy meds. And of course everyone who reads my blog knows just how bad my son’s allergies were. If you don’t just picture this: Zyrtec in the am, rescue inhaler when needed, medical inhaler once a day at lunch (that cause God awful nightmares) and Benadryl at night. Well, the season after our first round of elderberry syrup neither my son nor I needed anything. My son would still get a little congested, but it was manageable. I mean we went from stage 4 nuclear to a runny nose. I can totally handle that! It’s been a full 3 allergy seasons now, and we have made it all 3 with no trips to the doc, no inhalers that give him nightmares, and no doing him twice a day with over the counter meds. Again though, I made him and my family take it every single day. I made a commitment to do it, we did, and we have reaped the benefits since.

The Do’s and Dont’s of good syrup:

Now that we have talked about all the good things about Elderberry Syrup and why it may possibly be a good idea for your family, lets also talk about what you shouldn’t do or should avoid when getting elderberry syrup. Even if you have someone that makes it locally, do not be afraid to quiz them on their ingredients and how they go about making their syrup! When looking to buy from the store, try and go as healthy as possible. Here are some things to look out for on both locally made and store bought:

Locally made:

  1. Are all the ingredients organic? What are the ingredients?

  2. Do they use honey or cane sugar? If they use honey, is is local or big box store bought?

  3. At what point in their cooking process do they add the honey? (the answer should ALWAYS be “after it has cooled to less than 105 degrees”)

  4. What type of cinnamon do they use? (answer should always be Ceylon..your family is taking this every single day, and if they are sick, multiple times a day)

For me, I would never purchase something locally made if it did not contain local honey in it. That is supposed to be one of the key benefits of buying from a local producer. It is my opinion anyone making homemade that is using granulated sugar is really just out for the profit and hasn’t done their research to give a quality preventative product to the community. Now, when it comes to babies, sugar is fine because they do not need to ingest the raw honey…let me just make sure I say that!

Store bought: Pretty much all store bought syrup is going to have sugar and no honey, so my recommendations for it is just to try and get as healthy as possible.

  1. Buy certified organic

  2. Get one that uses cane sugar or maple syrup as a sweetener and not high fructose corn syrup or splenda or a fake sugar.

    Let’s Get Cooking!

I always recommend making your own, because it is way cheaper and you know exactly what is going in it. A lot of people are intimidated to make their own syrup because they hear the elderberry is poisonous. Well yes and no. The berry is the least poisonous part of the elderberry bush, and the berries need to be heated for an extended period of time to render that poison inert. Many people eat elderberry pie, jam, jelly and a host of other cooked elderberry goodies 🙂 So let’s go through how to make your own for your family!!

Erin’s Elderberry Yummy Syrup:

Kitchen supplies:

  1. small simmer pot
  2. mason jar with lid, pint size if doing full recipe
  3. mesh strainer
  4. whisk
  5. large bowl
  6. meat or cooking thermometer

1 cup organic dried elderberries (I use frontier brand)

2 sticks of cinnamon

3 cloves (and only 3, sometimes 2 if they are big, or else it will be so strong tasting your little won’t take it)

1 tsp fresh grated ginger

4 cups of water

½ -1 cup local raw honey (if you have a child that isn’t old enough for honey, sweeten with regular sugar)


Put everything into pot and bring to a boil.

Reduce very low, just a bare simmer and set a timer for 40 minutes.

After 40 minutes use a fine mesh strainer to strain into large bowl. I let sit for a few minutes to cool off then I squeeze the berries for more juice.

LET REST. For a while. The temp needs to come down to 105 degrees F or lower in order not to kill off the anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties that are in the honey. This is where a key mistake is made with a lot of cooks. I usually wait until at least 100 F just to give plenty of leeway if my thermometer is off my a few degrees.

Once cooled enough, pour in honey and stir with whisk. I usually use about ¾ cup, but you can play with it to see how sweet you need it to be for your child to take it without complaint.

Mix well and put in mason jar in the fridge. Will last for up to 3 months. (Honey is also used as a preservative)


  1. For taking: 1tsp for kids, 1 TBS for adults per day. When SICK: use same amount but take every hour until symptoms/fever are gone.
  2. For dual purpose allergy relief: make sure to start taking at least around Christmas to get the benefits come spring. If you don’t need the allergy benefits then any store bought honey will do and you also don’t have to worry about the temp of mixing because processed honey in the stores has already been heated and everything killed off.
  3. Don’t eat or let your kids eat the raw dried berries. They can be poisonous. That being said, I had NO clue about that when I first started out and I popped a couple in my mouth to see what they tasted like. I’m still breathing. So don’t freak out if they get one, just don’t let them get a tiny handful.
  4. As always, any questions, email me:

***These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA, and I am not a medical professional. You read and do everything at your own risk and it is your responsibility to consult with your physical regarding allergies or negative side effects :)***

Let’s Cook Up a Little Help for the Holidays!

Let’s Cook Up a Little Help for the Holidays!

When my son was first born, I began volunteering with a wonderful local organization called Crossroads Connections. I learned about them in our local paper, how they made bags of food for the weekends for children in need. These children are known as “food insecure” children. Having a newborn, the thought of any child going without food about made me sick to my stomach, much less ones that lived within a few miles of me. So I would take Lucas and we would help deliver these food packs to neighboring schools. I fell in love with the program. It wasn’t a big program, it was started by a few people who wanted to make a difference, and they did, and they still do. This Christian based organization started in a lovely couples basement, and they currently feed 90 children a year in 9 local schools.

This Christmas season, I would like to donate 1.00 from every elderberry syrup, kit, and any product affiliate orders I am a part of to Crossroads Connections. If you would like to read my blog post on Elderberry Syrup and its possible usefulness for your family, please click HERE.

For the holiday season I am going to offer special elderberry syrup kits, packaged in pretty Christmas themed ribbon and wrapping that contain the following:

Made by Me “Yummy Syrup”– My son, at 1.5 years old started calling this his “Yummy syrup”. Everyday he asks me for it, which is wonderful because sometimes with the hustle and bustle of life I forget! So my dear friend made this label for me. Coined by my son, made by my friend, I am so blessed. This is syrup made in my kitchen, by me, and my son taste tests every batch I make. If he doesn’t like it I know other kids won’t. It needs to stay refrigerated, but will last up to 4 months in the fridge. 15.00. If you are a repeat elderberry syrup fan, it is 14.50 if you bring your original glass jar back to that I can recycle it.


Partial Kit– Includes everything you need to make roughly 2 pints of elderberry syrup, except for the honey. They come with detailed instructions, all of the dry ingredients, a usage card and a “Yummy Syrup” label for your jar. These are perfect for stocking stuffers or gifts that you want to mail. They will be 12.00 or 15.00 shipped to anywhere in the US.

A Full kit– This will have everything you need to make roughly 2 pints of elderberry syrup from start to finish. It will include all the dry ingredients in a mason jar with a label on it, detailed directions and also exactly enough honey for the recipe in a ½ pint glass jar. I will ship these as well, but adding ½ pound of honey will make it a little more to ship. These will be 20.00 and shipping will be based on your zip code. These are great for a full gift to a friend, new mom, grandmother, teacher, or Sunday school teacher!

Pictured to the right is a full kit, however it will be packaged with green and red ribbon and some sort of fun Christmas cheer, I just haven’t decided on it yet! I will post that when I do though!

I am also an affiliate with eCloth and Murchison-Hume home cleaning products. These are products I love, have used in my home for 4 years now, and stand behind. They have helped me make my home a more safe environment for our family, while also not breaking the bank. I do not sell them out of my home or website, I am just an affiliate. So using my links below, if you place an order, I will get a credit for that. So for each ITEM purchased (not just each individual order) I will donate 1.00.

Stay tuned for a blog post on each of those to understand why I love them so much. I will also do a Facebook live video when I return home so that you can see what I have, how I use it, and why I use these products. They also make amazing Christmas gifts. I will post the links below for each! If before then, you have any questions about them please email me or message me in our facebook group!

If you are reading this and not part of my closed Facebook group called Raising Tiny Healthy Humans (join here), please feel free to join as this is where most people will place orders for their elderberry syrup and kits. The group is for anyone wanting health and nutrition ideas, recipes, or just want to ask a question! You can also email me at to place an order.

Ecloth affiliate link:

Murchison-Hume affiliate link: (fig is my favorite scent)

See the source image

In Good, Happy, Health-


Balancing in Heels and True Roots…Lifestyle Cookbooks You Need in Your Life

Grab a coffee, take a seat and indulge in two great books!

Teen reality star and amazing cookbook author are not two things I think I would have ever put together in a sentence. So how did I stumble upon 2 really good introductions to healthy cooking that was indeed penned by a teen reality star I have pretty much done everything to avoid in my youth?..Let’s take a look.

It all started when a friend of mine told me there was a “cute new reality show about fashion and Nashville” on TV. Pretty much everyone around me knows how much I long for home (Alabama) so anything on TV that is remotely close to it, I tune in to give my accent a tune up. I started watching this new show “Very Cavallari”..wait, she looks familiar. As I googled, I realized it was Kristen Cavallari, famous reality star from Laguna Beach and The Hills. I had never watched either show and frankly did all I could to avoid reality TV in general. I never got the “Team Heidi” shirts or random jokes from that show. So here it is 15 or some odd years later, and I am face to screen with a woman I never once took seriously, only now she seemed poised, smart and articulate.

During all of my googling, I found that she had also written a couple of books. Her first one, Balancing in Heels, is about her and her life and how she has gotten to the mindset of where she is now with her health, happiness and work life. The second one, True Roots, is a cookbook she collaborated with Chef Mike Kubiesa to make an astounding entry level look at DIY healthy organic cooking for adults and kids at home.

I have never read a book, especially one that involves information about eating and nutrition, that I don’t have at least some disagreement with, but this book is different. This first book really spoke to me and I see it as a fabulous “entry level” book for anyone that is wondering how a whole foods, organic food lifestyle would work.

In, Balancing in Heels, while she mainly talks about her entry into Laguna Beach, meeting her husband and then having kids and the challenges of that, the most interesting part is her discussion of her mindset change on food. She discusses how when she was younger it was all about calories in and calories out, never looking at the quality of the food itself. When she became pregnant with her first child, all that changed.

She discusses GMOs, additives, vitamins and supplements and some quick and easy food ideas. Keep in mind though, that this is mixed into a book about her life, but if you have no interest in that, you can skip those chapters and head straight for the lifestyle. She also throws some good tidbits in there on working out with kids, and how to have a good wardrobe for home or work.

Her words are very inspiring, and she even throws in some of her favorite easy recipes in this book. I think my favorite thing about her philosophy with food is that it does not have to be 100% all the time. Moderation is key. She understands that going out to dinner, sacrifices are made and not so great food for you is usually consumed, but instead of feeling guilt or shame about it, she just goes home and the next meal is healthy, home cooked. Eating healthy is a lifestyle, not a diet, and she could not be more spot on with that or any of the other great points she makes. Is this ground breaking new info? No, it isn’t. But she puts forth this information in a relaxed, well spoken and interesting way in her book. A way that keeps you reading and not getting bored, or thinking “this is just too hard, no way can I accomplish this for my family”.

So if you are new to a healthy, organic style of cooking and eating, I highly recommend this. It is a one-stop shop for a variety of information, no need to rummage through 456 pins on Pinterest that you have saved. Also, if you are like me, and not new to this lifestyle, I highly recommend as a light and easy refresher or even just a rejuvenation of your eating philosophy and motivation.

I was glad I ordered both of her books off Amazon at the same time, because her first book really paved the way to understand why she penned a cookbook like she did, and gave her the bones fides for someone like me, a skeptic of a reality star, to actually take the cookbook seriously.

True Roots does not discuss GMOs vs. Organic foods, additives, etc like Balancing in Heels did, it is a true cookbook. There are tons of family friendly recipes in there, one of my favorites being Buffalo Chicken Salad. These actually made an appearance on one of her show episodes, Since I recognized what it was I thought “here we go, let’s start plugging the cookbook now”. Nope. There was hardly a mention of either of her books in the show, not knowing the exact timeline of filming and publishing, I am not sure if it was on purpose or not. Even then she could have been “Hey Jay (her husband) want some of these Buffalo chicken salad wraps I’m putting in my new cookbook?”. This kinda made me like it even more. The book stands alone, without her plugs about it in her new show. Another favorite of mine is her pudding pops, made totally from scratch with coconut milk, cocoa and organic gelatin. I have not made everything in this book or her first, but it is definitely one I am pulling out on more occasions than not.

So which book would I pick if I could only have one? For me, it would be True Roots, only because I am familiar with a healthier form of eating in our house. If I wasn’t, I would pick Balancing in Heels to give me the info and motivation to do so and then ask for the other book for Christmas! Oh, and one other thing, the recipes and ideas she puts in her first book are not redone in True Roots. I liked that also!

If you get one or both of these books comment in our private facebook group on which recipes you have tried and post some pics!!

In happy and good health,


When a Mom Puts Food First

When did I decide it was okay to have a spotless house, but not a healthy family??

As a Stay at Home Mom, I have many responsibilities. First and foremost is the physical and emotional well being of my toddler, who is a spunky little 2.5 year old boy. Second comes the daily “running” of the household. This includes (but is not limited to): meal planning, grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, laundry washing and putting away, dry cleaning, bill paying, any errand under the sun you can name, lawn maintenance, and the occasional emergency or time sensitive matter that may come up that needs to be dealt with accordingly. Doesn’t sound like a lot at a 70,000 foot view, but when you get into the weeds of it all, it is. I will be the first to admit that I have NO clue how full time working Moms do it. I just don’t. I am good at time management and multi tasking, but I can’t for the life of me figure out how working moms cram everything into 6:30pm-10:00pm.

When speaking with another Mom friend one day, telling her about nutrition classes I was taking and how I really need to put more of an emphasis on food in our home, she immediately told me she felt guilty as well, but on a whole other level. For me, we eat out maybe once a week, but when I don’t feel like cooking we just eat whatever we can find, no thought to it. For her, it was eating out, almost every night. She knew it wasn’t good for them or the kids, but she felt she had no other option. Then it struck me…why is that the only option??? Further discussion led to the realization that a lot of moms (me included) feel like the house chores must be done, everyday, no questions. If something needs cleaned or washed or ironed, that goes to the top of the list. If there is no time for meal prep, grocery shopping or cooking, then out to eat or a drive thru it is.

I took this to some other Mom friends and when asking them, it was kind of split down the middle. Some said that dinner always came first and if there was time for the house chores, they would get done. While some said the daily house work came first, dinner came when it was time to cook, and if there was no time, alternatives were met. This led to me to ask, “Why is it ok to have a spotless house, 100% of the laundry done when we have plenty of clothes to last a long time, etc and put our family’s health second, and really last?”. Do we think our husband’s will think us stay at home moms did nothing during the day if the only real accomplishment is putting a healthy, delicious meal on the table for everyone? If so, what was the husband’s reasoning for thinking that way?

Being a researcher at heart, I wanted to look into this, but did not have the time to make it an actual reliable and valid study, but we did do a little mini test in our home! Here is what happened:

For one week, family food and health came first. We defined this as being meal planning and prep (including grocery shopping), cooking, and family “fun” time. It is summer and warm and any chance we get to take our son outside or for a bike ride, it is good exercise, so we counted that type of activity as health. This food and health definition would come before any other house chores that weren’t deemed necessary or immediate. For example, if a bill was due and it needed to be paid that day, well I took the time to pay that. If a shirt my husband was hoping to wear for work hadn’t been ironed, then he agreed to pick a different one. Make sense?? He agreed not to do any more or less around the house. I have a great husband and any time that I am bogged down, he always pitches in to help more, but for this to work, he needed to do the same things he usually did as if I wasn’t falling behind!

The results?? Well, we are still married! Ha! No really, it actually didn’t have an impact on us that much. If anything, I think for my husband it actually made things better, because he knew going to work every day he had breakfast and lunch. He didn’t have to each a granola bar or go out and take time off work to deal with lunch. So for him, I think it decreased his stress level, and probably double so because he was also eating healthier and getting the benefit of feeling that as well.

Me, well I am a different story! The first day was probably the hardest to be honest! I am not used to letting things sit around or out or dirty dishes sit in the sink. I pretty much had to sit down and just focus and breathe at the end of the day!! I found a cleaning schedule a long time ago that has always helped me keep the house clean (15-20 min a day and the entire house is cleaned each week). I will be the first to admit that my house will never be “dirty”, but it can be strowed from time to time! I did still manage time to get those quick cleanings in, although I did not mop the floors…they will have to wait until next week. My handy Roomba though, has made it’s way into almost every room of the house this week.

I remember my first real food challenge came that first day as well! We had agreed no eating out, only eating at home, and 85% healthy (if he wanted some pretzels and dip I wasn’t going to stop him). I had agreed that for me, everything I plated was homemade. We got broccoli in our CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) box that week so I planned to make a quinoa chicken and broccoli bake. My son loves it, so that is a win. What I forgot was that it used 2 cans of cream of chicken soup. Sigh. What was I going to do?? For one I didn’t even have those to cheat and use, and I thought to myself, nope, this is not going to get me! I quickly looked up a recipe online for a copycat cream of chicken soup and found one that got really high reviews. Find it here:   If anyone has a toddler, you know, if taste is off by a little they won’t eat it!

It actually really tastes like the canned variety. It is definitely going to be my “go to” recipe for here on out. I don’t even need to try any others. I found that making the soup was super easy and viola! Dinner! The soup didn’t even set me back that much time either. We did decide to go on a family bike ride while it was still light out, we had a blast! When we walked back in it was bath and bed time for the little one, and I saw all the dirty dishes and instantly felt the stress. So I said I would clean up as long as it took my husband to give our son a bath and then it was snuggles and bed time. That is exactly what I did. Not everything got done, and at the end of my night, I went to bed with dishes in the sink.

The middle of the week was much of the same. I had planned meals pretty well so there was no random running to the store for an ingredient. It was my son’s last week of preschool (he goes 3 times a week for 4 hours). So I did the health and food first. Usually while he is gone, I workout, clean different parts

of the house and pay bills and mow the lawn. This week I meal prepped for dinner, made my husband’s breakfasts and lunches to take to work, and also made sure to exercise. It is the height of strawberry season here, so when I had one day that needed no prepping, instead of cleaning the house I decided to go to the local you-pick and picked 3 gallons of organically raised strawberries (roughly 19 pounds), and prepped and froze them when I got home. I was tired and sweaty so I counted this as a win for the day. I put away delicious healthy berries for our family and I also got a workout in over those 2 hours in the field!

Picture: End of the week and our Den survived…kind of.

The end of the week came, and while the house was cluttered and dishes are still in the sink, we are all still alive. Honestly, looking back, probably a little happier and better off. I think I am. I am a lot less stressed, and I don’t feel like my husband is looking at me like I am a failure. Hopefully after this we can find a happy medium. Food does need to come first in our family above regular house chores, and I am hoping this was the motivation to make that happen. Now, if someone popped by unexpectedly, I probably wouldn’t let them through the front door…but I would bring with me a health strawberry snack for them that I had the time to actually make this week!

Picture: The kitchen is a little more cluttered than normal, but man was there a lot of cooking going on this past week!