1 Feb 2022

DIY Immune Stimulating Elderberry Gummies

It’s that time of year when winter has solidly set in and cold and flu season is at its peak. Since we spend more time inside this time of year, we tend to spread colds around more readily and may be feeling more susceptible to infection. And, with an ongoing worldwide viral illness, natural immune support becomes even more important during these times.

Luckily, there are many ways to help support the immune system. With a nourishing diet, healthy lifestyle choices, and supportive herbs, we can promote balance in our bodies when it is much needed.

In this article, you will find a simple and fun recipe to make immunity-stimulating gummies using elderberry juice sweetened with raw honey, then thickened with gelatin, which supports gut health and provides collagen and nutrients! All ingredients nourish and support the body, making these a perfect support for cold and flu season!

Furthermore, as Valentine’s Day is upon us and love is in the air, these elderberry gummies are a great last-minute gift idea for your loved ones. Let’s show some appreciation by gifting homemade delicious treats that support their immunity, too!

close-up of elderberries growing outside

The Immune-Stimulating Effects of Elderberry (Sambucus canadenis, S. nigra)

Immune stimulants are herbs that turn up the volume of the immune response. They are often taken at the onset of illness and can be used throughout the acute phase of infection to help reduce its duration and intensity. During acute illness, at the start of a cold, for example, immune stimulants need to be taken frequently throughout the day, and sometimes even once or twice during the night, in order to keep the active compounds circulating throughout the body.

As a staple in many an herbalist’s apothecary, elderberry juice, tincture, or syrup are go-to herbal preparations at the very initial signs of cold or flu. The herb is referred to time and again as “the medicine chest for the country people,” alluding to its wide-ranging actions and ready availability (Hoffmann, 2003).

Actions and Energetics of Elderberry 

Energetically, elderberry is cooling, pungent, slightly astringent, and slightly sweet. It’s a great ally during colds, flu, and respiratory infections due to its diaphoretic and antiviral actions. Elderberry is also effective for coughs and congestion associated with lower respiratory viral infections, promoting expectoration of mucus associated with bronchial infections. By inhibiting viral replication and strengthening cell walls, elderberry can reduce the duration of colds and the flu (Hoffmann, 2003).

plate of heart-shaped elderberry gummies

Cautions When Using Elderberry 

There are a number of different types of elder, but only some of them are used in herbalism. Luckily, it’s not hard to tell them apart if you’re harvesting the fruit on your own. All of the elders with dark berries (blue, purple, or black) are varieties of black elderberry (Sambucus nigra or S. canadensis); red elderberry, from Sambucus racemosa, is mildly toxic and generally not used.

Raw elderberries and several other parts of the plant contain alkaloids and cyanogenic glycosides, which may cause unpleasant side effects, such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and in severe cases depression of the central nervous and respiratory systems (American Botanical Council, 2004).

This reaction occurs only if the berries are used fresh, as cooking, drying, or macerating in alcohol reduces the cyanogenic glycoside content (Gardner & McGuffin, 2013). Therefore, it’s recommended to use a juice that has been boiled for at least 30 minutes or a syrup made from dried elderberries when making gummies.

During pregnancy or lactation, the use of elderberry is not recommended, as its safety has not been established (Gardner & McGuffin, 2013).

hand holding elderberry gummy

Immune-Stimulating Elderberry Gummies for Valentine’s Day

Elderberry has been a staple in folk use to ward off illness for decades. In this simple gummy recipe, the pure juice is combined with grass-fed beef gelatin and raw honey, two other powerful superfoods.

Elderberry Gummies

These delicious treats can be enjoyed on a regular basis to stimulate immune function. They can also be taken at the first sign of illness or to soothe a sore throat, cough, cold, or the flu. If you are using a heart-shaped mold, these will make a wonderful little Valentine’s gift for your loved ones!

2 cups pure pasteurized elderberry (Sambucus canadensis/ S. nigra.) juice (or elderberry syrup)
2-4 tbsp raw honey (according to your taste-omit completely if using elderberry syrup)
2½  tablespoons organic grass-fed beef gelatin

  • Gently heat 1 cup of the elderberry juice in a pot (not bringing it to a boil).
  • In another bowl, add the remaining 1 cup of juice, honey, and the gelatin powder. Allow the gelatin to thicken for a few minutes.
  • Once the juice in the pot starts to steam, add it to the gelatin-honey-juice mix and combine well. Whisk until fully dissolved, about 1-2 minutes.
    (Alternatively, if not using juice, you can gently heat your homemade elderberry syrup and combine it with the gelatin powder as described above.)
  • Pour the mixture into (heart-shaped) silicone gummy molds.
  • Allow the gummies to set for about 1-2 hours in the refrigerator until firm.
  • Remove the gummies from their molds.

Place in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator. Consume within 2-3 weeks.

To Use:
Adults: Enjoy a gummy or two a day during this cold and flu season.
Kids: One gummy a day. This recipe is also great for kids, as they will love the taste and consistency of this lovely immune-stimulating treat! 

These elderberry gummies can be made with other herbs as well. Simply add your choice of ingredients to the simmering juice or combine different syrups.

If you have no mold, a simple container will work perfectly too. Just allow the mixture to firm and then dice the gummy block into smaller cubes. 

heart-shaped elderberry gummies in a glass bowl

In Closing,

With Valentine’s Day quickly approaching, you might be searching for a lovely homemade gift idea. These elderberry gummies are not only delicious but will provide immune-stimulating support for your loved ones! With much love and full hearts, we wish you a very Happy and Healthy Valentine’s Day!

DIY Immune Stimulating Elderberry Gummies for Valentine's Day | Herbal Academy | These elderberry gummies are not only delicious but will provide immune-stimulating support for your loved ones!


American Botanical Council. (2004). The ABC Clinical Guide to Elderberry. Retrieved from http://cms.herbalgram.org/press/files/elderberry-scr.pdf 

Gardner, Z., & McGuffin, M. (2013). American herbal product association’s herbal safety handbook. New York: CRC Press.

Hoffmann, D. (2003). Medical herbalism: The science and practice of herbal medicine. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts.