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Flavonoid Herbs for Fall

Autumn breezes are bringing in cooler weather and with it comes an increased risk for colds and flus. Fortunately, Nature has our back. Here in the Sierra Foothills we have an abundance of flavonoid rich herbs that can help to build immunity and prevent seasonal illness. And you might find these herbs growing abundantly right in your own back yard during the time of the Fall Equinox.

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Flavonoids are natural constituents that give plants their bright colors. These are strongly antioxidant elements that can help us stay health during the changing season. Flavonoids are essential co-factors for nutrients like vitamin C, and are what make cherries red and oranges orange.

These color-rich plant constituents increase tissue integrity, making our blood vessels stronger, our lungs more elastic, and our immune systems more resistant to infection. The more flavonoids you consume the more resistant you are to seasonal illnesses, and the faster you’ll recover if you do get sick. My four favorite local flavonoid rich herbs are Hawthorn, Elderberry, Blackberry, and Rosehips.

Use any of these herbs as a syrup or elixir for a wellness remedy! Take smaller doses during cold and flu season to prevent illness. Take larger doses during active infection to speed up recovery.


Keep reading to learn how to make Syrups and Elixirs…

Hawthorn Berry

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  • Strengthens the cardiovascular and respiratory systems

  • Increases natural immune resistance

  • Builds muscular strength and endurance

The berries are bright red when ripe and ready to pick in September and October. They can be eaten fresh or can be dried to make teas, however they are best when made into a syrups and elixirs. Harvest enough berries to fill a quart sized jar for making a large batch of the recipe below.


  • Increases natural immune resistance

  • Traditionally used to treat fever and respiratory infections

  • Shortens the duration and severity of viral infections

Elderberries can be found in gardens and the wild hillsides throughout Nevada County. The berries can be either blue or black when ripe depending on the species. Green fruits should be left to ripen. To harvest snip the entire fruiting cluster from its stalk and put them in the freezer overnight. Once frozen the berries snap easily off the stem and can be made into syrup. Do not use Red Elderberries, they are poisonous. 


  • Antioxidant rich, creating better resistance to disease.

  • Increases cellular respiration

  • Tones digestion, aiding in nutrient assimilation

Blackberries are simply meant to be eaten. However, making a cordial can become a seasonal treat to serve at fall harvest gatherings, either sip straight or drizzled over pie and ice cream for dessert. To make a cordial gather at least a quart of fresh berries between August and October.


  • High in Vitamin C and broad spectrum flavonoid

  • Gently strengths all the tissues of the body by nourishing the blood

  • Increases immune resilience

Rosehips are the tastiest when harvested between the first and third frost of the season. The cold temperature causes them to ripen and become sweet. Pick them whole and allow to dry before making into syrups, cordials, or elixirs.

Traditional Elixir Formula

Pick your herb! It can be just elderberries, or hawthorn, or a combination.

Try it with fresh blackberries to make a tasty sipping cordial.

  1. Fill a quart size jar two-thirds full with dried herbs.

  2. Add vodka or brandy to the jar until half full and then top jar with honey until herbs are completely covered and saturated in liquid medium.

  3. Cover with lid and shake vigorously until the contents are free flowing.

  4. Let stand one month, shaking the jar daily.

  5. Strain out herbs.

  6. Bottle and label. Shelf stable for about two years.

Heather's Elderberry Syrup Recipe

Dose is 1 tablespoon taken 3 times per day for seasonal illness prevention or up to 1 ounce shot glass full every two hours during active illness to speed up recovery time.

4 parts Elderberries
2 parts Hawthorn berries
1 part Rosehips
1/2 part Cinnamon chips
1/4 part Ginger (dried cut rhizome)
1/4 part Licorice root

  1. Add ingredients to a pot of water in a ratio of 1 part herbs to 10 parts water 

  2. Simmer on low with lid about 2 hours to reduce volume 

  3. Strain out the herb

  4. Add honey to fill 1/3 of the liquid volume

  5. Bottle & label

  6. Store in fridge. Keeps up to one month. Add ¼ volume brandy to extend shelf life if desired.

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