1 My Sick Secret: Elderberries | The Billfold

My Sick Secret: Elderberries

HAVE YOU GOTTEN SICK YET!?!??! Don’t worry if you haven’t—you will. And when you do, you’re going to be GREAT because you are going to have an ARSENAL OF CHEAP AND SICK SECRETS AT YOUR DISPOSAL (or, at least this 1 secret).  Who needs healthcare when we have each other? (Ha.) Anyway none of this is medical advice—or financial advice for that matter!—I am not a doctor, nurse, lawyer, or even anyone’s mom. Don’t listen to anything I say.

SO: ELDERBERRIES. I learned about elderberries from a hippie friend some years ago when I was working in a grocery store and EVERYONE WAS GETTING SICK. I did not want to get sick, and was advised to purchase ELDERBERRY SYRUP and swig it to ward off the flu.(You can also make your own but, as I always say, why DIY when you can buy?)  I bought some and swigged it and guess what: I never got sick! MIRACLE SUBSTANCE. 

So the syrup worked. But as the years passed I forgot about it. I lost the indigenous medical knowledge of my people. (I moved from Portland, Oregon.)

Cut to: A few weeks ago, Brooklyn, New York. I’m walking down the street, feeling like I’m sick, realizing that I’m probably sick, but hopefully I’m not? But probably I am. When, sent by the universe, a health store appears in front of me. I walk in, on autopilot. “Do you have elderberry syrup?” I ask the man behind the counter. “Elderberry syrup, that is such great stuff, so so good for you,” he says. “But no, I do not have it.”

Crushed, I shuffle home. When lo, on the next block: Another health store! An herb shop! Called The Herb Shoppe! I walk in. A man is talking to the woman behind the counter, explaining his wife’s diabetes and his lack of insurance and she is telling him some herbs to buy. I wait my turn, then ask for elderberry syrup. They don’t have the syrup, but they have the tincture, which is elderberry extract mixed with alcohol. I buy it ($14.40 for an ounce). At home I fill a dropper and squeeze it down my throat. Then I gulp some water and go to bed.

I still get sick. Fever, chills, aches—in bed for three days! HOWEVER every few hours I drink some of the tincture and lots of water, and it is is my firm belief that this ritual shortened my sickness. And that’s enough! 


Do you have a secret about how to prevent getting sick or get better quickly if you are sick or any other kind of healthcare hack? SEND ME YOUR SICK SECRETS. I will put them on my website maybe. And once again: Don’t take any advice from anyone, ever, especially not me. logan@thebillfold.com


32 Comments / Post A Comment

Raw garlic, crushed or chopped and left to sit for 20 minutes. Swallow that bad boy with a spoonful of honey and chase it with some lemon tea (literally, just hot water, the juice of a whole lemon, and throw the lemon rind in there too if it’s unwaxed/organic, and add honey if you must). Enjoy a few hours of freedom from illness.

BananaPeel (#1,555)

@Splendorofmorgan I don’t do the garlic but I DO do the lemon + hot water + honey a lot in the winter when I want something warm but don’t want anything with dairy (dairy tends to not be great for the phlegm situation.)

selenana (#673)

@Splendorofmorgan Exactly this EXCEPT add a thumb of ginger, mash/grate it up into that honey lemon mess. Clears the crap right out of your head.

orangezest (#317)

Logan, someday you may work somewhere that wants you to use LESS CAPS and more “actual tags” and fewer QUESTION MARKS and EXCLAMATION POINTS but… please never ever change.

@Emma Peel I feel like my writing style has changed only for the better after reading these posts.

@SarcasticFringehead My whole *life* improved after I discovered that there really *is* a Sarcastic Fringehead, and I saw pictures of it.

@Mingus_Thurber I KNOW, RIGHT. I saw it on a nature show one time, and decided that until such time as the technology exists for me to become a massively weird-looking fish, this will have to do.

Bill Fostex (#573)

My go-to source for medical and life advice, Cauldron Living, has some similarly effective cold and flu tips in this thread. Basically: Wash your hands often; Drink plenty of fluids; Avoid alcohol; Stay home and rest if you start to feel ill; Clear Quartz; Aqua Aura; Aventurine; Carnelian; Apophyllite.

Megano! (#124)

My secrets to health are green tea, all of it, every day. And avoiding children and the Greyhound like the plague they are. (Seriously! I had to go to Ottawa every month last year, and caught the bus sick TWICE b/c travel effs with my immune system and ppl on the Greyhound are walking balls of microbes that make me violently ill. Most winters I do not get sick.)

frozenstrawberry (#1,827)

I have no idea about their health benefits, but elderberries are my eating secret. In Peru, they are known as sauco and are used for the most amazing jams and pies. I think the moral here is that pie cures all, right?

See: http://dpurafruta.blogspot.com/2012/01/receta-de-cheese-pie-de-sauco.html

probs (#296)

When I was 8-ish, my family and I and I picked an insane amount of elderberries growing wild near our home in New Mexico, and made a huge, huge amount of elderberry jam. We ate it, and it was delicious. And then we ate it, and ate it, and ate it, and ate it, and ate it, and now about 18 years later I like elderberries again.

maude (#1,988)

Oregano oil! Every time I start getting sick (especially sore throats) or I worry that I’ll catch a cold, I use this stuff and it seems to clear up any throat or chest trouble right away. For everything else, I boil up a bunch of ginger root and wear scarves and sweaters. Cold medicine just makes my heart race way too much, so I prefer relying on hippie stuff like oregano oil & ginger, + fluids + sleep.

RachelG8489 (#1,297)

I am all about the Jewish penicillin, aka matzo ball soup. I’m convinced that it doesn’t work unless it’s homemade, so I keep containers of homemade chicken broth in my freezer and matzo ball mix in the pantry at ALL TIMES because that way I can just defrost it the broth and even when I’m sick, I can usually manage to make matzo balls from a mix. When I had pneumonia in college, my mom wanted to overnight me this stuff, but we couldn’t make it work. Instead, she taught me to make my own and now I shove it on all of my friends like I’m their Jewish mother.

TARDIStime (#1,633)

@RachelG8489 Be my Jewish Mum! You are a great friend.

acid burn (#113)

I have a bottle of elderberry syrup in my refrigerator that my boyfriend’s mother made and gave to us, BUT I think that that was two years ago. Do I trust it?? Important information: my throat has been “swallowing lots of broken glass” levels of sore for like four days.

BananaPeel (#1,555)

@acid burn if it wasn’t vacuum-sealed I would not trust it. However, maybe this was totally obvious to everyone else but when I get a sore throat now I brush my teeth and gargle with hardcore mouthwash (incl hydrogen peroxide) many times a day and I think it helps to kill bacteria/clear up infection in my throat.

selenana (#673)

@BananaPeel Yeah, here in Japan we have public service announcment posters about not getting/passing the flu that basically say: wash your hands a lot, gargle a lot, don’t touch your face, wear a mask/cover your cough.

sox (#246)

From what I understand, elderberry is best for cough and sore throat, but it is also one of those super intense berries with lots of antioxidants so it should be good for you in general.

I take this Herbal Resistance Liquid which not only has such an awesome name, it works great too! I like the alcohol free kind (less harsh tasting) and I put a dropperful or two in a half inch of water.

Be well everyone!

bah. i seem to have lost my linking powers… http://www.sourcenaturals.com/products/GP1347/

thecoffeestain (#1,483)

Everyone has all of these great thoughts about how not to get sick and the only thing I do is take a multi-vitamin and a super B vitamin. So far, that’s worked pretty well for me.

Megs (#644)

I know I’m going to sound like a total lush, but HOT TODDIES. Seriously, I could justify them all day long (and I often have to). Tea and lemon feel great when you’re sick! And the alcohol will kill the germs if you’re about to be sick! The whole thing will put you to sleep*!

*My second-best suggestion for preventing sickness is forcing yourself to sleep AS MUCH as possible.

Genghis Khat (#584)

@Megs The watered down alcohol in a drink is not going to kill any germs.

It will make you feel good though.

Megs (#644)

@Genghis Khat Haha, very true. When I’m sick, I’m able to convince myself of anything.

Jeni Vidi Vici (#1,121)

My instinctive response was to scoff at the healing powers of berries, but the science might back this one up:

awk (#840)

Has anyone tried visiting a medical professional for advice? That’s what I do if I have a cold I can’t kick after about five days or so. :)

BornSecular (#2,245)

@awk Inconceivable! ;)

faustbanana (#2,376)

@awk Away with you, wizard!

@awk Are you implying that the woman behind the counter at The Herb Shoppe is not a medical professional?

Wait 20 comments and no one saying: MAGIC BERRIES AND HERBS WILL NOT STOP VIRUSES. Or bacteria for that matter.

Also, DIABETES LADY YOU NEED MEDICINE NOT FUCKING VITAMINS. Is the Herb Shoppe going to be there at the hospital when she has to have her feet amputated? No, no they are not.

Here just let Tim Minchin say it.

@stuffisthings Shhhhh! Don’t harsh the collective mellow.

Myself, I think anything that convinces a sick person to drink more fluids is a good thing, provided not too many of those fluids contain alcohol. If there’s a nutritive component, like in chicken or vegetable broth, so much the better.

Sadly, though, that shit ain’t gonna cure you. Still, it’s a nice excuse to drink whiskey and eat soup.

@Mingus_Thurber If you need an *excuse* to drink whiskey and eat soup then you deserve to be miserable.

kate@twitter (#2,935)

Does this extend to St. Germain?

Haha, kate@twitter, I don’t know if the magic of elderberries extends to St. Germain. (Someone should do a study on that.) But it definitely extends to juice, syrup, and even jam (Dr. Oz calls it brain food).

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