Skip to content

I'm an RD, and This Is the Drink I Recommend for Boosting Your Immunity

This eastern-world staple boasts some serious benefits for our immune health.

Are you looking to boost your immunity as the cooler months roll around? There are many drinks you can choose from to get you through the chillier seasons, but when it comes to boosting your immune system, there's one drink in particular I recommend and that's elderberry tonic.

Elderberry is traditionally used in eastern medicine to support the immune system. Elderberries are associated with shortened colds and flu-like symptoms and improve inflammatory markers.

The elderberry plant is known for its dark red/purple hue, signaling that it is high in antioxidants. The berries are a source of powerful antioxidants such as anthocyanins, flavonols, and phenolic acid.

Its antiviral properties are well-documented in research, and you might find it in many forms such as lozenges, tea, or syrup! Because of the antiviral nature of elderberries, it could reduce the length and severity of colds to just three or four days.

RELATED: Get even more healthy tips straight to your inbox by signing up for our newsletter!

One study found that air travelers who became sick with a cold or flu virus and supplemented with elderberry were able to significantly reduce the duration and severity of their symptoms.

In addition to its antiviral properties, more elderberry research shows this superfood may influence inflammatory markers in the body.

While additional research is needed to reach full conclusions, one review of elderberry research suggests that elderberry may decrease inflammatory markers. However, the effect appears to diminish over time.

A note on commercial versus homemade remedies: homemade elderberry syrup is not well-researched compared to commercial elderberry products.

Further, parts of the elderberry plant are poisonous, and homemade remedies are risky as a result if you do not carefully investigate your elderberry source. For these reasons, commercially bought elderberry supplements are recommended.

How to make an elderberry tonic

This versatile spin on a traditional tonic can be served hot or cold. It can be enjoyed like hot tea or as a bubbly refreshment! The benefits of lemon juice and cinnamon increase the immune-boosting effects of this homemade remedy.

This recipe can be made easily into large batches and stored in the fridge or freezer for cold and flu season!


1 tbsp elderberry syrup (commercially bought)
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp honey
1 cup water
Cinnamon (to taste)

How to Make It

  1. Boil water.
  2. Once boiling, remove from heat and add syrup, lemon juice, honey and cinnamon to taste.
  3. Whisk until all ingredients are dissolved.
  4. If you want to serve it cold, let the mixture cool then store in the fridge until ready to drink.


Are you seeking more information on choosing the right elderberry supplement? Here's everything you need to know about elderberries before trying it yourself! Then, be sure to read up on these immune-boosting tips:

Caroline Thomason, RDN
Caroline is a women's health Registered Dietitian and diabetes educator based in Northern Virginia. Read more about Caroline
Filed Under