In this era of readily available pharmaceutical products for every imaginable ailment, it can be easy to default to the drugstore when we need relief. It hasn't always been that way. For millennia, our ancestors had a deep knowledge of the remedies provided by the earth. Fortunately, much of that wisdom still exists, and many people are using it to skip the drugs—and the side effects.
One such example is an herbal tonic called oxymel, a recipe so simple that it can be made in your own kitchen.
What Is Oxymel?Also known by its Turkish name sirkencubin, oxymel is a mixture of vinegar and honey with other ingredients added for taste or purpose. Its health benefits differ depending on the type of spice or herb used in the drink. Medieval Persian pharmaceutical manuscripts refer to 1,200 types of oxymel. Oxymel is a great way to extract and use the benefits of countless herbs and therapeutic plants.
Healthful IngredientsA study on polyfloral honey, published in the Journal of Argentine Chemical Society, noted the presence of essential minerals such as potassium, calcium, and magnesium.
Choose a Target Health IssueThere are thousands of oxymel recipes. How do you know which one is right for you?
ObesityInsulin resistance is a health challenge for obese individuals, as well as for people with metabolic syndrome and diabetes. As outlined in the journal Antioxidants and Redox Signaling, this complication is often caused by oxidative stress. The good news is that you can counteract this effect by adding antioxidant-rich food sources to your diet.
Chronic InflammationInflammation itself isn't always bad—it's part of the body’s natural defense mechanism. The immune system recognizes and removes harmful foreign irritants through inflammation in healthy individuals. Thus begins the healing process—inside and out.
Don’t be dismayed, however. You can thwart some of the symptoms of chronic inflammation by eliminating processed foods from your diet and by supplementing with common herbs and spices—such as in a refreshing oxymel beverage.
AsthmaA study published in the Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine indicates that herbal medicine is a good alternative treatment for asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Immune SupportThe immune system defends your body against infections. When it gets weak, you get sick. A healthy immune system is a lifesaver.
Thyme oxymel is an excellent example of how the basic honey-vinegar mixture combined with just one common culinary and medicinal herb can create a multi-layered health remedy.
2 Ways to Make Oxymel at HomeNote for all extracts:
- Many recipes suggest a 1:1 honey-to-vinegar ratio, but that can range widely, with some suggesting up to 3 parts honey to 1 part vinegar. Adjust based on your preference for a sweet versus tart flavor.
- It's best to use apple cider vinegar for its many health benefits.
- Always ensure that all plant matter is covered by the liquid, with no bubbles.
- Store finished oxymel in dark glass bottles, or store in a cool, dark space.
Oxymel-Preparation Technique I: Easy and Slow Extraction
- In a glass jar, mix the honey with the vinegar.
- Wash and cut chosen herbs into small pieces. Add them to the jar with the honey-vinegar mixture.
- If using a metal lid, place a double-layered piece of plastic wrap in between the glass and the lid (the acid in vinegar reacts with metal).
- Keep in a dark but warm place for 3 to 4 weeks.
- Shake vigorously every day.
- After the extraction time has ended, the oxymel can be kept with the herbs in it, or strained through a muslin cloth to filter out the plant matter.
Oxymel-Preparation Technique II: Fast and Dry Herb ExtractionThe fastest extraction method utilizes heat—and in so doing some of the beneficial active components of the apple cider vinegar may be lost—however, this method works well when extracting from dried herbs.
- Add vinegar, honey, and cut herbs to a pot.
- Heat for about 1 hour or until the extract is syrup-like. Don't exceed a temperature of 195 degrees F.
- Stir frequently.
Bottom LineAs an effective medicinal remedy, oxymel has withstood the test of time.
The wisdom of Hippocrates, Dioscorides, Galen, and other ancient doctors who prescribed the drink for a litany of complaints still holds true today.
Today, as we're often looking for the newest and most innovative pharmaceutical remedies, it would be wise to not cast aside the ancient wisdom they're built upon.