GTPulse: Traverse City Woman Owns Michigan’s Only FDA-Registered Elderberry Syrup Company
“I’ve had people say it tastes almost like blueberry pie meets pumpkin pie.”
Sarah Wallstrom is talking about elderberry syrup, and though she may love the taste, that’s not why she started making the natural elixirs. TC Elderberry is Sarah’s small business, and she’s proud to be the only FDA registered elderberry syrup company in Michigan.
When Sarah was pregnant with her first child almost eight years ago she kept getting sick during the winter. Her midwife suggested taking elderberry syrup.
“I was like, ‘what is that?’ She said that I could make my own, I could go and get elderberries at Oryana or Edson Farms and buy them in bulk. So I made this syrup.”
She was surprised how expensive it was to buy elderberries and raw honey, but she wasn’t interested in the elderberry products offered at health food stores.
She made her first batch of the syrup in the worst part of an intense cold and felt almost completely better after two days. She was hooked.
Her husband owns a chiropractic business and when Sarah decided to make more syrup she was able to have friends and family buy it and pick it up there. She didn’t initially start making the syrup for profit, though.
“We were doing it as a fundraiser for my brother-in-law who, at the time had stage four cancer, it’s progressed. We were putting all the money from that towards him because he was doing the holistic approach and it’s expensive.”
Sarah had to jump through a lot of hoops to start making a product that could be stocked on store shelves. The line between food product and health supplement was blurry.
“When I went into Oryana to sell, she asked about FDA and wasn’t really sure so we looked into it and that’s when I registered with the FDA.”
Registering for the FDA was the first hoop of many, which included having all of her products carefully looked at. Sarah ships her product too, so packaging, labeling and shipping had to go through inspection as well. Her labor paid off.
She offers three different products, her original elderberry syrup, a kicked up syrup and elderberry syrup with agave instead of honey so that vegans and babies over the age of six months can reap the benefits too. The syrups can be used to help get over a cold faster, and they can also be used to prevent a cold.
“We say take a tablespoon a day for preventative measures.”
The raw honey she uses is from a farm in Beulah and she credits some of the syrups success and taste profile to the honey.
“It has antibacterial and antiviral properties. The honey’s important to me. I cool my elderberry liquid before adding the honey so that it gives the maximum amount of benefits. It’s really important to me that people are getting something that’s going to be effective.”
She also offers kits to people who want to know what is going to their syrup and make their own.
Like most holistic health products, Sarah isn’t allowed to say that it’s proven to help cut cold time down by a certain amount of time or that other health benefits are fact, she is, however, allowed to say that the product is good for the immune system because those claims have been proven. Other health benefits like pain management, stress, fevers and headaches may not have been proven yet, but avid fans of the fruit have claimed that it’s helped them with those issues as well.
TC Elderberry is sold locally at health stores, cafes and can be shipped as well. She hopes to get her product into more stores so she can spread the immunity-boosting benefits of elderberries.
“I wanna try and get myself out there more throughout Michigan. My mission is to spread health, hope and love one bottle at a time.”