Pliny the Younger, the author and politicians of the late 2nd century – meaning it likely was used during the time of Christ.
Raw vinegar is full of antioxidants and is a natural probiotic, but it’s also been shown to sooth sore throats, improve digestion, reduce cholesterol, help guard against cancer and maintain a healthy weight. As a natural antibiotic, it can help clear out your throat and digestive system of harmful pathogens, allowing you get better faster. Raw cider vinegar has also been shown to help the body absorb nutrients from the foods you eat.
Raw honey is a nutrient powerhouse, full of antioxidants, minerals and enzymes that promote health and wellness. It’s used throughout the world for its antimicrobial and anti-fungal properties, as well as an immune system booster. Research shows that it can be just as effective as commercial cough syrup in treating coughs and sore throats. Taken regularly, raw honey can act as an allergy shot to reduce your sensitivity to pollen and allergens in your environment over time.
The herbs used in oxymel vary based on your goals, but in general, they’re often herbs designed to improve your immune response, or address a respiratory condition such as cough, cold, flu or sore throat. Whichever herbs you choose, do your homework, and make sure they reflect your needs, and the needs of your family; great choices include sage, thyme, rosemary, oregano, mint, Echinacea, ginger, elecampane, fennel, garlic, mullein, hyssop, wild cherry bark and horseradish. Sweeter nutrient-rich and health-promoting fruits are sometimes included, as well, including elderberries or sea berries.
One famous version, referred to as “fire cider,” is made with ginger, garlic, cayenne and horseradish. Other times, elderberry, ginger and Echinacea are combined for immune support. Another mixture is a cough syrup/respiratory blend that includes wild cherry bark, elecampane root, rose hips, ginger, slippery elm bark and peppermint.
Pre-mixed remedies sell in health food stores and online for as much as $5 per ounce, but can be mixed at home for pennies and a little patience. Recipes vary widely, but a common formula includes 1 part dried herbs steeped in 2 parts honey and 2 parts vinegar. Leave in a cool dark place for at least a month, and then strain. Feel free to use more honey if your tastes require a sweeter version to overcome the herb flavors you’ve chosen, or if you simply have trouble with vinegar. Likewise, recipes with up to 5 parts vinegar and 1 part honey are also acceptable for those who like a little extra zing in their medicine.
Some people choose to steep the honey with the herb in one jar, and then the vinegar with the herb in a separate jar, only mixing them at the end. That way, they can have an infused honey and an infused vinegar which also have a variety of uses, and they don’t have to commit all of the infusion to being an oxymel mixture.
While they’re generally pleasant to use on their own as a medicine by simply taking them on a spoon as you would a cough syrup, they can also be incorporated into meals to turn your food into medicine. Oxymel is a great way to enjoy sweetness without negative effects on your blood sugar. Raw vinegar has also been shown to balance blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity in diabetics, which will help to balance out the effects of the honey on your system. With that in mind, these medicines make a great addition to cold sparkling water to make a medicinal spritzer, or when used to top a salad as a sweet and tangy dressing. Recipes using sweet herbs (such as elderberry) make excellent pancake syrups or yogurt/dessert toppings.
However you choose to take your oxymel, know that you’re participating in a medicinal tradition that goes back millennia, and taking your health into your own hands by crafting your own homemade medicine.
Have you ever made or used oxymel? What advice would you add? Share it in the section below: