Loaded with powerful antioxidants, and antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and antiviral properties, Elderberry Winter Immunity Tincture will help strengthen the body’s natural healing process during the cold winter months. It is sure to be a star in your home natural remedies tool kit.
Elderberry Winter Immunity Tincture
I refuse to give colds and flu a “season” with my words of agreement. Instead I focus on living a healthy lifestyle year round and boosting immunity with healing herbs, roots, and spices when needed. Elderberry Winter Immunity Tincture is a must have in your natural remedies arsenal. Thankfully, I grow, harvest, and preserve my own elderberries every year to be used in my natural remedies and body care recipes. They are dehydrated and stored in airtight labeled jars to be used in the fall and winter months. Elderberry Winter Immunity Tincture is power-packed with many antioxidants, and antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and antiviral properties. It is easy to administer from a dropper bottle to not only build up the bodies natural immune system, but also keep sickness at bay at the first sign of a sniffle.
What is a Tincture?
Tinctures are herbal preparations that use alcohol as a solvent. It is the most effective extraction process and will preserve your herbal preparation for a longer period than say an infusion or extract. Extractions that use a menstrum (solvent medium) such as vinegar, glycerine, or other solvent are called extracts. Generally, children prefer remedies prepared in glycerine because it is a sweet solvent.
There are two components that make up a tincture: the menstrum, which is the liquid component that does the extracting, and herbs. Make sure that all your herbs are clean and dry, using only their usable parts. For instance, discard any sticks or branches, fibrous parts, stems, or flower heads. You want only the plant parts with the most concentrated beneficial qualities present.
For this recipe, I use Prairie organic vodka as my menstrum. Tincture preparations require at least an 80-100 proof alcohol to be sufficient. If using fresh herbs that contain water, use 150-proof or higher. I don’t recommend using fresh herbs in this recipe.
Elderberries- A Great Plant to Have Around
Elderberry bushes are the first plants I plant when we move somewhere new. Not only are they beautiful and easy to care for, but they provide many nutritional benefits in both the flowers as well as the ripened berries. They are a wonderful herb to start with if you are just learning about herbs, because there are so many nourishing recipes that you can make that are delicious. For example, I not only use them in this Elderberry Winter Immunity Tincture, but in my Elderberry syrup, Citrus and Pine Winter Shrub, elderflower face tonic, elderflower and chamomile tea, and many other recipes. I am only getting started. Get the kids involved. Packed with a powerful antioxidant punch, they are a life saver to have around.
Just a Note: Elderberry require both a male and a female plant, and once they settle into an area they are quite prolific. They can grow over 7 feet tall, so make sure you find a good place for them to make their home and they will serve you well.
The Key Players and Their Rolls in Elderberry Winter Immunity Tincture
- Elderberries– powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory. Great for the respiratory system and full of Vitamin C.
- Calendula flower– although mostly used externally to disinfect and facilitate healing in wounds or skin conditions, calendula has wonderful anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties. It also works great on reducing fever as well. I love growing calendula in my garden. I use it in salves every year. Plus, it is just a happy little orange flower with a prolific nature. I enJOY it in all my summer bouquets as well.
- Astragalus Root– anti-inflammatory; strengthens and tones the lungs. It is a powerful adaptogen, helping the body adapt to stress. Astragalus is a key component in my Adaptogen Bliss Bombs recipe.
- Echinacea– an immune-stimulant loaded with numerous healthy components.
- Eleuthero Root– immune stimulant and tonic herb, especially good for children.
- Nettle– a tonic herb loaded with vitamins and minerals.
Process of Turning Herbs into A Tincture Using the Folk-Method
What is a folk method? Before you get all nervous on me and run the other way, the folk-method is simply a way of stating that I don’t measure or weigh the herbs. The mathematical method uses a lot of math and weight-to-volume ratio measurements. If I were preparing a tincture that I planned on selling and wanted consistent results, then I would need to us the mathematical method. Apologies to those of you who prefer actual measurements. For home use, I am not actually that concerned with exact measurements for this recipe.
- Alcohol (I use Prairie Organic Vodka)
- Knife and cutting board
- Clean and Sterilized quart jars with lids (I used a half gallon jar thinking I could double the recipe, but next time I would put them in two separate quart sized jars instead.)
- Natural waxed paper
- Glass weights (optional but suggested)
- Wire strainer lined with cheesecloth
- Dark-colored dropper tincture bottles
- Small funnel
- Permanent marker and labels of choice
Literally, this recipe takes minutes to prepare. The measurements really depend on the jar you use. Make sure and only fill your jar 3/4 full of herbs and don’t pack it down. The herbs will expand in your jar once they are rehydrated with the alcohol. Consequently, if they are not submerged under the liquid, they could mold and spoil.
I like to layer my herbs starting with the elderberries. Use two parts elderberries compared to the other herbs and then lightly layer with each herb until all herbs are present. After your jar is 3/4 of the way filled with herbs, place your glass weight on top to ensure that all herbs will be submerged under the liquid. Next, fill the jar with your alcohol menstrum until it is 1 inch below the top of the jar.
Finally, cover with a tight fitting lid. Use waxed paper if you have a metal lid so it does not react with the solvent. Place is a cool, dark cabinet and shake occasionally. Allow to macerate (steep) for 4-6 weeks. Mark it on the calendar so you don’t forget. Hey it happens.
Once the tincture has set for 6 weeks, it is ready to be strained, bottled and labeled for use. Line a wire strainer with a few layers of cheesecloth. With clean, dry hands, massage the herbs to squeeze out as much liquid as possible. If desired, run the liquid through a coffee filter to strain further. Using a small funnel, bottle your tincture in dark dropper bottles and store the rest in a clean, labeled, and dated quart jar for future use. Keep out of direct light or heat.
How to Administer
*I am legally bound to remind you that I am not a doctor or a pharmacist. I am not giving medical advice but merely sharing what we do in our house. It is your responsibility to use your own due diligence and consult a healthcare professional that you trust.
Typically, in our house, adults take two dropperfuls (1 ml) a day for maintenance in the winter months. If we feel a cold coming on, we administer 1-4 ml (8 dropperfuls) 3 times a day . For children, Clark’s Rule suggests dividing the child’s weight (in pounds) by 150 and then giving the child that fraction of the adult dosage. For example, for a 50 pound child give 50/150 (or 1/3) of the adult dose. We administer 1 dropperful every 2 hours during sickness to help boost and support the immune system with our small children. I dropperful is equivalent to 1/2 ml.
The above picture of my jar of layered herbs is WAY too full and actually needs to be distributed between two quart-sized jars. This was my first time using a half gallon jar and I used too many herbs. I guess I got a little too folky. The circumference of a quart jar compared to a half gallon jar is very different when it comes to eyeballing for layers. Learning experience. Wont happen again. I wanted to show you the layers for the picture so you could get the idea of how to layer. It was too packed down.
Your herbs don’t need to remain in a layer for the steeping process, especially since you will be shaking it occasionally. Ideally, you want to fill your jars 3/4 full of herbs so that it gives room for expansion once the herbs are reconstituted with the alcohol.
If I Don’t Grow My Own Herbs, Where Can I Source Them?
I am glad you asked. Ultimately, sourcing your herbs from a good, reputable source is important. Amazon can be great in a pinch, with their unlimited selection, convenience, and easy shopping experience, but lately I have been feeling a little concerned that they are becoming too big for their britches. We have all been lulled into comfort and convenience and expect everything now to be delivered in 2-days or less. Even so, I like to remind myself that it is good to patiently wait for things.
I have always trusted Mountain Rose Herbs in Oregon for my herbal needs. They are a great small business and I love supporting the little guy. I am not getting a commission for saying this. Without a doubt, I am just a woman who likes good quality ingredients and I love supporting small businesses. When I was visiting family in Oregon, we stopped in the shop and I literally wanted to buy everything there. Their quality and dedication to their products is phenomenal. Check them out here.
Furthering Your Herbal Education
If you are interested in learning more about the benefits of herbs, either for culinary purposes, learning to make your own herbal remedies, herbs with children, or even furthering your education to become a certified herbalist or herbal entrepreneur, I highly recommend these websites:
Herbal Learning Opportunities with Your Children
I began my herbal journey on LearningHerbs.com. I took my children through the Herb Fairies course as well as have enjoyed the board game, Wildcraft with them. Learning and discovering along with my children has enriched our relationships as well as passed on a wonderful herbal heritage to them. I recommend all their courses offered.
Rosalee De La Foret’s Alchemy of Herbs… Where it All Began For Me
Rosalee De La Foret, from Learning Herbs has a wonderful book called Alchemy of Herbs. You can watch a video trailer of her book here. This book is what launched me into my herbal studies. It easily introduces you to twenty-nine of the most common herbs and several recipes to make with them. I have tried almost all of them. Alchemy of Herbs is one of my favorite go-to herbal cook books. The recipes have been amazing and I will feature some of them as well as adaptations of her recipes on this blog in the future.
Continuing Education and Certification at Herbal Academy
As I continued my herbal journey, I wanted to go further and even become certified as an herbalist as well as possibly create my own body, home, and wellness care products to sell. I am currently enrolled at Herbal Academy in their Introductory, Intermediate, and Business courses where I am engaged in over 4 years of intensive study. The courses are phenomenal and I encourage anyone to take charge of their own healthcare even if mastery is not the goal. Learning how to incorporate healing herbs and plants into your diet as well as discovering how the nutrients in various foods have healing properties is a wonderful skill. Hippocrates, the father of medicine, is famous for his quote, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” Amen that.
Precautions in Using Herbs and Roots
Just a note of caution: It is recommend that you consult with a qualified healthcare practitioner before using herbal products, particularly if you are pregnant, nursing, or on any medications.
*This recipe has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Herbs are used to aide the body in promoting a healthy lifestyle. For educational purposes only.
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If I don’t grow an herb myself, I trust Mountain Rose Herbs in Oregon for all my spices, jars, and herbal purchases.
Glass weights for fermenting or herbal preparations