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Cold Season Immunity Booster: Elderberry

Cold Season Immunity Booster: Elderberry

    Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries.
    – French Solider, Monty Python and The Holy Grail (1974)

    The first time I ever heard of elderberries was from watching TV. While Monty Python’s quote is easy to remember, I also remember the pioneer shows where “good, old fashioned” remedies included elderberry wine, syrup and tincture. I just assumed it was the alcoholic properties of the wine that did the “job” in reducing cold symptoms, but a year ago my wife joined the elderberry team. She made us some tincture, and insisted I have some every time I started the cold season sniffle. At first, I thought she was just being silly, but when I made it through the cold season without getting sick, I thought maybe there was something to my mad-scientist, real food ninja wife’s elderberry magic.
    Simply put, if you want to fight a cold this season, look no further than the old fashioned remedy of elderberries.

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    The Benefits 

    Below are a few of the many benefits that elderberries can give you through this cold season:

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    1. High in antioxidants
    2. Treatment for flu, cold or sinus infection due to anti-inflammatory and anti-viral qualities.
    3. May have potential anti-cancer properties
    4. Diuretic, laxative and emetic
    5. Speeds up recovery times

    (source: University of Maryland Medical Center)

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    Those are some serious benefits and thus the age old remedy actually makes sense.

    Elderberry Solutions

    What are some ways to take elderberries?

    1. Pies, tarts and other treats
      A great way to enjoy elderberries, but one has to balance out the bitter berries with large amounts of sugar.
    2. Wine
      Probably one of the better known solutions and the wine can be made from either the flowers (the white wine) or the berries (the red wine). Both provide great results. Often, people used it as an aperitif.
    3. Tincture
      This is a great way to get a solid dose of the elderberry benefits. However, it is also extremely bitter. It feels like it works because no self-respecting cold would go near something that tastes that bad. With that said, it is very common and a great way to boost that immune system. This is alcohol based, typically made with a proof of 80 to 100, often vodka.
    4. Syrup
      This is my favorite way out of the solutions. It has a long shelf life. It is sweet, and it doesn’t have any alcohol. Drinking the syrup is similar to drinking Nyquil. It is thick as it coats your throat, and you are getting the great health benefits and boosts. You also get great benefits from the honey and spices used to sweeten the syrup.
    5. Tea
      I have not tried the tea, but it is a very common solution mentioned. While there are a lot of options, one of the simpler tea options is to mix the tincture in with tea in the morning. However, it is also possible to brew the flower petals or berry into your tea solution.

    Considerations

    As always, consult with a qualified health care provider before trying remedies. Do not eat an elderberry without first cooking it. While the remedies used widely in Europe and in the homes of many real foodies for cold and flu treatments, elderberry is not recognized by the FDA to manage flu conditions.

    Sources For More Information:

    • Real Food and Health Digital Magazine (kindle or pdf)
      The November issue contains a recipe for elderberry syrup along with additional information
      (Disclosure: my wife is the editor for the magazine and wrote the article on elderberry syrup)
    • LiveStrong.com – Elderberry Section
      A great selection of articles on elderberries.
    • Mountain Rose Herbs
      A place to order elderberries in bulk if you do not have a local health food store that carries them.
    • Deep Roots At Home Elderberry Tincture
      A good tincture recipe is hard to come by, but Jacqueline’s recipe is pretty good. It made my wife’s seal of approval.
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    Last Updated on November 15, 2019

    10 Real Reasons Why Breaking Bad Habits Is So Difficult

    10 Real Reasons Why Breaking Bad Habits Is So Difficult

    Bad habits expose us to suffering that is entirely avoidable. Unfortunately, these bad habits are difficult to break because they are 100% dependent on our mental and emotional state.

    Anything we do that can prove harmful to us is a bad habit – drinking, drugs, smoking, procrastination, poor communication are all examples of bad habits. These habits have negative effects on our physical, mental and emotional health.

    Humans are hardwired to respond to stimuli and to expect a consequence of any action. This is how habits are acquired: the brain expects to be rewarded a certain way under certain circumstances. How you initially responded to certain stimuli is how your brain will always remind you to behave when the same stimuli are experienced.

    If you visited the bar close to your office with colleagues every Friday, your brain will learn to send you a signal to stop there even when you are alone and eventually not just on Fridays. It will expect the reward of a drink after work every day, which can potentially lead to a drinking problem.

    Kicking negative behavior patterns and steering clear of them requires a lot of willpower and there are many reasons why breaking bad habits is so difficult.

    1. Lack of Awareness or Acceptance

    Breaking a bad habit is not possible if the person who has it is not aware that it is a bad one.

    Many people will not realize that their communication skills are poor or that their procrastination is affecting them negatively, or even that the drink they had as a nightcap has now increased to three.

    Awareness brings acceptance. Unless a person realizes on their own that a habit is bad, or someone manages to convince them of the same, there is very little chance of the habit being kicked.

    2. No Motivation

    Going through a divorce, not being able to cope with academics and falling into debt are instances that can bring a profound sense of failure with them. A person going through these times can fall into a cycle of negative thinking where the world is against them and nothing they can do will ever help, so they stop trying altogether.

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    This give-up attitude is a bad habit that just keeps coming around. Being in debt could make you feel like you are failing at maintaining your home, family and life in general.

    If you are looking to get out of a rut and feel motivated, take a look at this article: Why Is Internal Motivation So Powerful (And How to Find It)

    3. Underlying Psychological Conditions

    Psychological conditions such as depression and ADD can make it difficult to break bad habits.

    A depressed person may find it difficult to summon the energy to cook a healthy meal, resulting in food being ordered in or consumption of packaged foods. This could lead to eventually become a habit that adversely affects health and is difficult to overcome.

    A person with ADD may start to clean their house but get distracted soon after, leaving the task incomplete, eventually leading to a state where it is acceptable to live in a house that is untidy and dirty.

    The fear of missing out (FOMO) is very real to some people. Obsessively checking their social media and news sources, they may believe that not knowing of something as soon as it is published can be catastrophic to their social standing.

    4. Bad Habits Make Us Feel Good

    One of the reasons it is difficult to break habits is that a lot of them make us feel good.[1]

    We’ve all been there – the craving for a tub of ice cream after a breakup or a casual drag on a joint, never to be repeated until we miss how good it made us feel. We succumb to the craving for the pleasure felt while indulging in it, cementing it as a habit even while we are aware it isn’t good for us.

    Over-eating is a very common bad habit. Just another pack of crisps, a couple of candies, a large soda… none of these are needed by us. We want them because they give us comfort. They’re familiar, they taste good and we don’t even notice when we progress from just one extra slice of pizza to four.

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    You can read this article to learn more: We Do What We Know Is Bad for Us, Why?

    5. Upward Comparisons

    Comparisons are a bad habit that many of us have been exposed to since we were children. Parents might have compared us to siblings, teachers may have compared us to classmates, and bosses could compare us to past and present employees.

    The people who have developed the bad habit of comparing themselves to others have been given incorrect yardsticks for measurement from the start.

    These people will always find it difficult to break out of this bad habit because there will always be someone who has it better than they do: a better house, better car, better job, higher income and so on.

    6. No Alternative

    This is a real and valid reason why bad habits are hard to break. These habits could fulfill a need that may not be met any other way.

    Someone who has physical or psychological limitations such as a disability or social anxiety may find it hard to quit obsessive content consumption for better habits.

    Alternately, a perfectly healthy person may be unable to quit smoking because alternates are just not working out.

    Similarly, a person who bites their nails when anxious may be unable to relieve stress in any other socially accepted manner.

    7. Stress

    As mentioned above, anything that stresses us out can lead to adopting and cementing bad habits.

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    When a person is stressed about something, it is easy to give in to a bad habit because the mental resources required to fight them are not available.

    Stress plays such a huge role in this that we commonly find a person who had previously managed to kick a bad habit fall back into the old ways because they felt their stress couldn’t be managed any other way.

    8. Sense of Failure

    People looking to kick bad habits may feel a strong sense of failure because it’s just that difficult.

    Dropping a bad habit usually means changes in lifestyle that people may be unwilling to make, or these changes might not be easy to make in spite of the will to make them.

    Over-eaters need to empty their house of unhealthy food, resist the urge to order in and not pick up their standard grocery items from the store.

    Those who drink too much need to avoid the bars or even people who drink often.

    If such people slip even once with a glass of wine or a smoke or a bag of chips, they tend to be excessively harsh on themselves and feel like failures.

    9. The Need to Be All-New

    People who are looking to break bad habits feel they need to re-create themselves in order to break themselves of their bad habits, while the truth is the complete opposite.

    These people actually need to go back to who they were before they developed the bad habit.

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    10. Force of Habit

    Humans are creatures of habit and having familiar, comforting outcomes for daily triggers helps us maintain a sense of balance in our lives.

    Consider people who are used to lighting up a cigarette every time they talk on the phone or munching on crisps when watching TV. They will always associate a phone call with a puff on the cigarette and screen time with eating.

    These habits, though bad, are a source of comfort to them as is meeting with those people they indulge in these bad habits with.

    Final Thoughts

    These are the main reasons why bad habits may be difficult to break but it is important to remember that the task is not impossible.

    Do you have bad habits you want to kick? My article How to Break a Bad Habit (and Replace It With a Good One) gives you tips on well, how to kick bad habits while my other article How Long Does It Take to Break a Habit? Science Will Tell You gives realistic information on what to expect while you’re trying to quit them.

    There are many compassionate, positive and self-loving techniques to kick bad habits. The internet is rich in information regarding bad habits, their effects and how to overcome them, while professional help is always available for those who feel they need it.

    Featured photo credit: NORTHFOLK via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] After Skool: Why Do Bad Habits Feel SO GOOD?

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