What is Oxymel? Benefits, Usage, Recipes
Oxymel and Brief History
An oxymel is a preparation that dates back a thousand plus years. It’s been noted by physicians like Al-Razi, Hippocrates, and many others. It’s likely that this preparation started in Persia that was called sekanjabin versus Greece medicine tradition called oxymeli as you’ll be able to find 1,200 recipes in ancient Persian pharmaceutical manuscripts.
There are many different ways to create unique oxymel, but the main basis of this preparation is raw honey and raw vinegar and medicinal herbs can be added to this.
In medieval Persia a vinegar and honey blend was used for its own therapeutic effects and as a modifier for other medicines. It was also used as an adjuvant to reinforce the effects of other medicines.
Some famous physicians who mention oxymel are Hippocrates (460-370 BC), Disocorides (Last Century A, Galen (second century AD). Its suggestions were for epilepsy, fever, oral contraceptive formulation, persistent cough, and asthma. Other famous and important physicians to note are Aegina (CE 625-690), Al-Razi (CE865-925), Sheik ( CE 1373-1431) etc. Haly Abbas suggested sekanjabin for breastfeeding mothers, remedying hypersplenism, foul breath, malaria, stomach pain, and also treatment of asthma.
Haly Abbas (930-994), Iranian outstanding physician whose principal work, "The Complete Book of Medical Art" was divided into sections on theoretical and tracts on specialized topics, and was translated into Latin. He also translated Arabic editions of works by the Greek physicians Hippocrates and Galen. The translations were the first works that gave the West a view of Greek medicine as a whole.
Oxymels are often used as expectorants, to reduce fever, energizer and restore the body, sooth a sore throat, support digestion, aid coughs, etc.
The breakdown of the word sekanjabin is serke, meaning vinegar and angabin, meaning honey.
Oxymel or oxymeli meaning acid and honey.
Vinegar has been a go to source for millennials as a food, preservative, and medicine. The word vinegar comes from French vin aigre, meaning “sour wine”. The sourness comes from the acetic acid. You can make vinegar from almost any fermentable carbohydrate source, including wine, fruits, molasses, grains, potatoes, honey, and more.
Let’s take a look at ACV or apple cider vinegar. The yeast digests the sugars in apples and converts them into alcohol. A bacteria, acetobacter, then turns the alcohol into acetic acid (what makes it sour). This process is essentially fermentation on a nontechnical level. You may hear some people refer to the "mother" in this process and it is the combination of yeast and bacteria formed during fermentation. There are sometimes pieces floating in raw ACV bottles.
Probiotics, acetic acid, and the nutrients in ACV are responsible for its health benefits. Vinegar contains acetic acid, vitamins, minerals, salt, amino acids, catechin, caffeic acid, ferulic acid, and nonvolatile organic acids (tartaric acid, citric acid, malic, lactic).
As a refrigerant vinegar has a cooling effect on the body meaning it can reduce body temperature and fever. It's great for bone building, in culinary, to help regulate gut flora, and improve GI function.
Honey has been in production for many years, bees produce honey from sugary secretions of plants (floral nectar) or other, by regurgitation, enzymatic activity, and water evaporation. Honey's main ingredients are carbohydrates (sugars), but honey also contains vitamins, minerals, amino acids, enzymes, organic acids, pollen, fragrance, and flavor compounds.
Honey is moistening, warming, and nourishing. It is often used to modify the energetics of medicinal herbs. Can extract all constituents soluble in water and 40% of constituents soluble in alcohol. Generally recognized as safe when consumed in food amounts.
For instance, if you have a very dry herb, you might pair it with honey to change the energetics of the herb. Or, if you have bitter herb you might combine it with honey to help the person take their herbal preparations. It's a generally good menstrum.
Traditionally, honey is used in the treatment of eye diseases, bronchial asthma, throat infections, tuberculosis, thirst, hiccups, fatigue, dizziness, hepatitis, constipation, worm infestation, piles, eczema, healing of ulcers, and wounds and used as a nutritious supplement.
Honey has been reported to exert antioxidant, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, antiproliferative, anticancer, and antimetastatic effects.
Honey has been used by humans since ancient times, nearly 5500 years ago. Most ancient populations, including the Chinese, Egyptians, Romans, Mayans, Babylonians, and Greeks consumed honey both for nutritional aims and for its medicinal properties. Honey is the only insect-derived natural product, and it has nutritional, cosmetic, therapeutic, and industrial values.
Recap of Oxymel
-Oxymels are a great way to get the extractive benefits of both vinegar and honey
-Shelf stable and portable
-Easily integrated into daily life by being added to drinks, dressings, soups, and other recipes that can benefit from sweet and salty flavors.
-They should be used within 6 months especially if prepared with fresh ingredients
-Not as strong as alcohol or glycerin extract
-Should not be given to children under 1
Before you start your oxymel let's take a look at which herbs you might consider using.
Herbs that extract well in honey:
Sweet/tonic: Pineapple sage
Simple and alkaloid bitters: Dandelion
Acrid: Blue vervain
Astringent sour: Sumac
Herbs that extract well in vinegar:
Astringent sour: Rose
Mineral rich: Nettle
The core formula is simply honey and vinegar, but we can also add lots of different herbs to create different flavors or medicinal effects.
Traditional Oxymel Recipes
-Equal parts honey to vinegar
-Mint, honey, vinegar
-Historical medicinal blends that include herbs like rose, onion, mustard, lavender, caraway, etc.
Tools you'll need to make Oxymel:
Herbs of choice
Clean, dry work station
Labels / Marker
Sterilized glass jar
Store in a cool dry place for 6 months - 1 year
The Easiest Oxymel Recipe
Combine 1 part infused honey to 1 part infused vinegar and blend well.
Store in a cool dry place for 6 months - 1 year
You can always play around with the flavors of your oxymel, 1 part honey to 2 parts vinegar etc. The outcome would be more sour versus sweet, or you can do the opposite to make your oxymel more on the sweet side.
Folk Method Oxymel Recipe
-Add herbs of choice to glass jar about 1/4 of the way
-Blend honey and vinegar in a separate measuring glass 1:1 or 1:2
-Pour the honey/vinegar mixture over herbs and stir in completely. About 1 part plant to 3-4 parts mixture and the plants to be completely submerged
-Add a piece of parchment paper to the top on the jar and cover with lid
-Allow this to sit for 4-6 week, turning daily or weekly
-When the flavor is to your liking strain and store in a cool dry place for 6 months to a year
If you still want more flavor you can always double infuse it. Strain the already prepared oxymel over a new batch of herbs and continue to wait another 4-6 weeks or to taste. You can do this double infusion multiple times it will just be an extremely concentrated formula.
Note: With any of these methods, make sure your herbs/food matter are always fully covered. If you notice that the herbs have soaked up a lot - add more to your jar.