How to Combat the Common Cold

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Words: Danielle Williams
Photo Credit: Herbal Academy

At the start of the pandemic, I found myself newly pregnant for the first time and working from home, so I hunkered down with my husband and watched the world unfold from my living room. I was lucky to be able to stay home and away from germs as much as possible, sending my husband out for grocery runs when needed. Due to this isolation and being cautious once the baby was born, it has been a while since I’ve caught a cold — that is until now. Going back into the office and socializing with more people means being exposed to more germs and viruses. 

After my husband and daughter both came down with a cold, I knew it was only a matter of time before it hit me. Fortunately, my symptoms weren’t too severe. My lack of sleep thanks to being a new mom probably didn’t help my immune system, so I started thinking about preventative measures I could take to prepare for the next cold. I remembered an article by Herbal Academy that we published in our Winter 2019 Issue of Willow and Sage on page 118. Marlene Adelmann shared their must-have elderberry calendula cold and flu elixir. In addition to getting enough sleep, exercising, and eating a nutrient-rich diet, this elixir is a great herbal ally for cold and flu season. Below is the elixir recipe to try; I know I’ll be making a batch! 

You Will Need:

-Jar: 1-qt. 

-⅔ cup dried calendula flowers 

-⅔ cup dried elderberries 

-⅓ cup dried elderflowers 

-⅓ cup dried rose hips 

-1 TB. dried orange peel 

-1 tsp. dried ginger 




-Fine-mesh filter/Cheesecloth

To Make:

Fill a clean, sterilized quart jar (4-cup capacity) with the herbs. Add brandy, pouring until the herbs are covered by 1–2 inches of brandy and the jar is approximately three-fourths full. Add honey, leaving 1 inch of space at the top of the jar. Poke a chopstick into the jar to release any trapped air bubbles and ensure the brandy and honey are coating the herbs. Put on the cap and label the jar with the ingredients and date. 

Let steep for four to six weeks in a cool, dark place, shaking daily. Filter the elixir by pouring through a fine-mesh filter or several layers of cheesecloth over a bowl or wide-mouth jar. Press the marc (plant material) to squeeze out every last drop of elixir. Compost the marc, and cap and label the elixir. 

Due to its immune-building, antimicrobial nature and high vitamin C content, this elixir can be used to support the immune system and ward off cold and flu symptoms. Adults can take 1 tablespoon daily during cold and flu season. At the first symptoms, adults can take 2–3 teaspoons of elixir every two to three hours. Frequent doses are the key to effective use! Of course, listen to your body to tailor the dosage to your needs. The elixir is not for use in children under the age of 1 because it contains honey; do not use during pregnancy. To determine a child’s dosage, divide the child’s weight by 150 and multiply the adult dose by this ratio. 

To learn more about Marlene Adelmann and her work at the Herbal Academy international school of herbal arts and sciences, visit This recipe was inspired by elderberry elixir recipes developed by herbalists Kami McBride and Kiva Rose, and is excerpted from the Intermediate Herbal Course by the Herbal Academy.

Danielle Williams is the assistant senior managing editor for Stampington & Company. She lives in Orange County, California, with her husband, daughter, and opinionated cat, Holly Golighty.

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