Oxymel. What a great word! Let’s break it down. Oxy comes from the Greek oxus meaning sharp or acid and mel from meli, or miel, meaning honey. Way back in the day, in 400 B.C.E. or so, Hippocrates wrote that this drink would promote expectoration and freedom of breathing. Oxymel has been used in folk medicine since those ancient times and has recently come to the foreground with the resurgence of interest in natural wellness and herbal medicine.
Apple cider vinegar (white distilled vinegar is not recommended) and raw honey are familiar kitchen allies. Combined in a 1:1 ratio, it can be taken several times daily by combining 2 tablespoons of the oxymel in water. According to D. C. Jarvis, author of Folk Medicine (1958), numerous ailments including rheumatism, arthritis, gout and high cholesterol may be relieved using this simple treatment. As a bonus, this delicious, nutritious medicine is a mineral-rich digestive aid, in addition to being full of honey’s anti-inflammatory, wound healing, probiotic, and immune-boosting properties.
Feel free to customize your oxymel anyway you’d like depending on the benefits you seek. Do this by first infusing your vinegar and/or honey with herbs that will bolster the medicinal properties of your oxymel, offering additional support for the immune system. Some of the best herbs to ward off the most common winter health woes are hyssop, elecampane, sage, rosemary, thyme and dried elderberries, mullein and garlic.
There are many ways to make an oxymel, but the method used here does not use heat for extraction. Instead, to keep the healthful properties of the raw apple cider vinegar and raw honey intact, we’ll use time.
Start by placing the desired herbs into a pint jar until it’s about ¼ of the way full. Cover them with a 1:1 combination of vinegar and honey and stir. Seal the jar (if using a metal cap, separate it from the glass rim with a piece of waxed paper). Store your jar in a cool dark place for 2-6 weeks. Give it a shake a couple of times a week. Now you’re ready to strain your oxymel into a clean glass jar. Another way is to infuse only the vinegar using the same method and add an equal amount of honey after the herbs have been strained from the vinegar. Clearly label you oxymel with the plant(s) and the date. This medicine is great for the entire family with the exception of children under the age of 12 months due to an infant’s possible reaction to honey. Take one or two tablespoons as needed – alone or in water. Consider using the same method in the spring and summertime when you can forage through your herb garden for lemon balm, borage, basil – you name it – and add your summer oxymel to fizzy water for a refreshing and thirst-quenching drink.