Cold and flu season is here, and I’ve been prepping my autumn natural medicine cabinet for weeks now. One thing you’ll find in it is this Vitamin C Elderberry Oxymel for an added vitamin C boost on days where my diet has been less than sufficient.
Did you know that vitamin C is a helpful nutrient to support your immune system during cold and flu season? It’s true! Clinical studies have shown that vitamin C helps to fight off infections, decrease the severity of symptoms, and speed up recovery time (Chambial et al, 2013). The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends 75 mg (women) and 90 mg (men) of vitamin C each day. When you’re sick, that amount increases to 1000 – 2000 mg of vitamin C a day!
If you’re eating a variety of fresh fruits and veggies, chances are you’re getting the daily recommended amount of vitamin C, but if your diet is lacking a bit every now and again or you’re ill, herbs like elderberry, rosehips, and violet leaf can help fill in the gaps!
Herbal Vitamin C
To increase my daily intake of vitamin C with herbs, I did some research to find herbs high in vitamin C that I could blend together and use in my preparations during cold and flu season. Before I share that information with you, let me say that all of this info is really easy to find on Google, so feel free to do some research on your own if you’d like. Also, my guess is that these numbers vary between sources, so take these as approximate vitamin C levels.
Vitamin C-Rich Herbs
(Approximate mg calculations are based on 100 g of plant material)
- Nutritives::: red raspberry (25 mg), dandelion leaf (35 mg), nettle (20-60 mg), and violet (264 mg)
- Berries::: Hawthorne (9 mg) , rosehips (426 mg), elderberry (36 mg), hibiscus (18 mg), orange (110 mg), and lemon peel (129 mg)
- Conifers::: pine (50 mg)
- Sweet spices::: anise (21 mg) and fennel (12 mg)
- Spices::: cinnamon (3.8 mg), clove (.2 mg), and ginger (5 mg)
As you can see from this list, some herbs pack a vitamin C punch! After finding this information, I formulated the following vitamin C herb blend. I make this blend in bulk and store it in a labeled glass canning jar and pull it out to use anytime I want to give myself a boost of this essential nutrient.
One way I use this herbal vitamin C blend is in my Vitamin C Elderberry Oxymel recipe, which I’ll share with you below. However, I also use it in daily herbal infusions (cool water only as heat from boiled water will destroy the vitamin C) and in herbal syrups or honeys.
Vitamin C Herbal Blend
4 parts elder (Sambucus nigra) berry
2 parts rose (Rosa spp.) hips
2 parts violet (Viola odorata) leaf
1 part cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum) bark
1 part ginger (Zingiber officinale) root
1/2 part anise (Pimpinella anisum) seed
Remember that a “part” can be any form of measurement you prefer (cup, spoonful, scoop, handful, etc.). For my part, I used 25 g of plant material by weight since I wanted to know approximately how much vitamin C my herb blend contained. My exact measurements looked like this, and the vitamin C amounts are rounded (because no one really cares about .1245s of a mg! LOL!)
200 grams elder (Sambucus nigra) berry – 72 mg
100 grams rose (Rosa spp.) hips – 426 mg
100 grams violet (Viola odorata) leaf – 264 mg
50 grams cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum) bark – 2 mg
50 grams ginger (Zingiber officinale) root – 2.5 mg
25 grams anise (Pimpinella anisum) seed – 5 mg
Total vitamin C content: ~771.5 mg
Now that you can see where the herbal vitamin C content is coming from in this blend, let me share the Vitamin C Elderberry Oxymel recipe with you.
Vitamin C Elderberry Oxymel
An oxymel is a combination of vinegar, honey, and herbs, and they are a great preparation for extracting vitamins and minerals from plant material. Not only that, but they’re easy to use. When using my oxymels, I either take a tablespoon full in a shot glass all at once, mixed it with carbonated water for a drink or as the sweet or sour component of a cocktail or mocktail, or use it as a vinaigrette on salads or veggies.
To make this Vitamin C Elderberry Oxymel, you’ll need:
- Clean glass canning jar and lid
- Vitamin C herb blend (above)
- Raw apple cider vinegar
- Raw honey
- Fill a glass canning jar 1/3 full of your vitamin C herb blend, 1/3 full of raw apple cider vinegar, and 1/3 full of raw honey.
- Mix well.
- Place a piece of labeled parchment paper between the jar and the lid and cap tightly.
- Store the jar in a warm, dark location for 3-4 weeks or longer, shaking daily if you remember.
- When time is up, strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve, composting the herbs, and reserving the liquid in a labeled glass jar for use.
And that’s it! It’s that easy to make a vitamin C-rich herbal oxymel that you can use to increase your nutrient intake during winter and support your immune system when it’s most needed.
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Love and light,
Chambial S, Dwivedi S, Shukla KK, John PJ, Sharma P. Vitamin C in disease prevention and cure: an overview. Indian J Clin Biochem. 2013;28(4):314-328. doi:10.1007/s12291-013-0375-3