Elderberry to the Rescue This Winter!

It’s like a scene out of a horror movie: your child comes home from school sniffling, sneezing, and coughing. You know what’s coming next. This new cold will make its rounds through every family member… including you. And you really don’t have time for any of this. Fall and winter are busy!
Unfortunately, they’re also prime time for colds and flu. It’s almost like these viruses take advantage of these busy times to throw a great big wrench into your schedule. Actually, that’s exactly what they do.
When we’re busy we’re usually stressed as well, and when we’re stressed, our immune system is depressed. It’s a survival mechanism from way back when stress for humans came in the form of a mammoth chasing us. It served a great purpose back then, freeing up excess energy—mostly from the digestive and immune systems—and putting it into the heart and limbs to make getting away from that mammoth a possibility. Today, our stress is chronic. That stress reaction might do a great job at helping us get through a big project or presentation, but in the long run, it’s more of a hindrance.

Ever wondered why that cold hits you last and the hardest?

As the caregiver, you have even more on your plate. You’ve got your job, household responsibilities, and now nose-wiping duties. It’s downright exhausting. With your stress level up and your immune system down, that nasty virus comes into your body, taking advantage of your depressed immune system to multiply and have a fun virus party. Your new virus colony has a grand ol’ time right up until the moment you relax. Everyone is better, your work project is over, and you take a deep, wonderful, cleansing breath. Then… ACHOO! As soon as you relax, your immune system comes back to normal, finds the virus colony, and starts to fight it. These are your cold symptoms, the symptoms of your immune system ridding your body of that virus. But there is help!
There are things you can do to take at that first sneeze—whether yours or your family’s—to help stop that virus in its tracks.


Elderberry is a more recent addition to my immune system tool chest. While it’s new to me, it has a seriously long history. There are records of ancient Egyptians using elderberry! There is lots of research behind it, too. It has been found to reduce the duration and severity of colds and flu. Elderberry Crystals (US/CA) and Elderberry Crystals for Kids (US/CA) both store easily, which allows me to take them the moment I feel something coming on. The key is to take it early, so it’s good to have on hand. If you take it when you start showing symptoms, or better yet when the people around you are sick, it can significantly reduce how sick you’ll get.


I know, it’s much easier said than done, but it is important. Every moment you relax, your immune system is back up at fighting strength and can find any new viruses in your body before they take up residence and start to party. A hot bath, a gentle walk, a cup of tea (US/CA), or even just 5 minutes spent in the car concentrating on breathing can help.


Sleep is so important, I can’t emphasize it enough. If you don’t have much trouble sleeping but stay up late because you get caught up with Netflix or Facebook, get to sleep! For those of you who struggle with sleep, my heart goes out to you. Keep looking for solutions, you never know what will work. You can try:
  • No screen time after 9pm; alternatively, try a color-shift app like f.lux or the night-shift feature for iPhone—they really work!
  • A relaxing bath before bed
  • Cooling off your room
  • A natural sleep aid like Sleep-Essence (US/CA)
I’ve heard of a woman who didn’t sleep well for 20 years, but then she tried wearing socks to bed and slept like a baby. Your sleep solution might be hard to find, but it’s out there! With just a few tools to keep your immune system happy, you can stop the horror of a sniffly family and have a happy and more relaxed winter.
About the author: Lisa Kilgour Lisa Kilgour is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist (RHN), founder of LisaKilgour.com, and a faculty member at the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition.