We're heading into holiday season, when you especially don't want to be laid up with a cold or the flu.
So now is a good time to think about preserving your health. Kathy
Stricker, a board-certified naturopath and owner of DayStar Naturals
wellness clinic in Mount Penn, typically recommends elderberry-based
products when it comes to either immune system maintenance or getting
well if you get sick.
"We have products that have elderberry as one of their
ingredients," Stricker said. "The ingredients all work together to help
the body overcome any kind of immune issue. Elderberry is a really key
component to a lot of supplements that are geared to fighting a virus or
bacteria."Nature's Sunshine is one such product carried in her small All 2 Natural store located behind the office."In
addition to the elderberry, it has vitamin D, which is a great immune
builder, echinacea, willow bark, royal jelly and olive leaf extract,"
she said.Sticker said antibiotics aren't normally effective against a virus, and that is another case when elderberry is a good option."Sometimes
something can support the body so that it can heal itself," she said.
"The body will heal itself when it's given the best nutrition."Nature's Sunshine offers capsules for adults and a chewable version for children.In addition to over-the-counter products, there are others you can make at home if you have access to elderberries."You can make it into a jelly, wine or pie," she said.Stricker said elderberries also are effective for preventive measures."You can take one a day to keep your immune system supported," she said. "It is maintenance, plus helping those that are sick."A
few years ago, Arwen Vermeulen, who lives in Malvern, Chester County,
with her husband, Jason Baranski, and daughter Avery, 5, received some
advice from her mother about the benefits of taking elderberry syrup."She
read an article about it and started making her own and had a ton of
elderberries she got at some farm, and she gave me a bunch after
freezing them," Vermeulen said. "My mom took a spoonful every day last
winter, and she rarely got sick. She swears by it."That led Vermeulen, a stay-at-home mom who had worked as a scientific sales rep, to do her own research."There
are plenty of articles about it, and recipes," she said. "Everything
you read says it will help you stay healthier, or if you are sick it has
some sort of properties that help your body fight things off better. It
boosts your immune system, and that is why a lot of people take a
spoonful a day to help you not get sick."Vermeulen then set out to make her own elderberry syrup using the berries she had been given by her mother."The
recipe I used was just 4 cups of water, 1 cup of elderberries, and you
boil it and let it simmer down to half the amount, which takes about an
hour," she said. "Then you take it out and you strain it."Some sweetener should be added afterward."You add a cup of honey, and I also put cinnamon in mine," she said.Elderberry
syrup is available from many retailers, particularly health food stores
such as Second Nature in Kutztown, Kimberton Whole Foods in
Douglassville and Nature's Garden Natural Foods and Shoes in Exeter
Township."I have bought some at Kimberton Whole Foods, and it is much more concentrated," Vermeulen said.She said the taste of elderberry is a bit tart.
Sarah Collins, manager of Second Nature for 10 years, said the store carries many products that include elderberry.
"We have lozenges, effervescent tablets, pastilles, chewable, syrup and capsules, too," Collins said.The products are in demand at her store."Cold
and flu season starts up right now and lasts through March, so I would
say October through March is our elderberry season," Collins said.The one she recommends most is an elderberry product by Gaia."That
is a syrup, and from what we learned it is the most potent," she said.
"You can take a teaspoon a day and just use that as a preventative, or
if you get sick you can take it up to every hour until you feel your
symptoms have abated."Vermeulen takes the syrup once she gets sick, and she gives it to her daughter."I
think that anything that is natural that could help is worth doing,"
she said. "I try not to take any over-the-counter meds if I can help
it."In the last few years, Vermeulen has seen more people have an awareness of elderberry syrup's benefits."I
have a friend who lives outside of D.C., and she swears by it now,
too," Vermeulen said. "A lot more people are trying to find more natural
alternatives if they can."Collins said most people who come into
Second Nature are looking for elderberry given their familiarity with
it, but that there has been more interest recently."It does grow
around here and has been used by the Pennsylvania Dutch and by the
Native Americans forever," she said. "The interest in elderberry has
only increased recently because of the interest in alternative therapies
and alternative living."
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