It’s hot and sunny, the birds are singing, campfires are roaring and smores are toasted. It’s so hard to think about winter and it’s accompanying ailments this time of year, but this is exactly when you need to start building your own herbal apothecary for the impending cold and flu season.
I was never taught about oxymels in school. My teacher was fairly tincture biased and while they are still my go-to for my clients, I love exploring new ways of preserving and enjoying herbs. I honestly cannot believe I’ve never made an oxymel up until this point but it will be a regular occurrence in my herbal medicine cabinet for sure.
So What Is An Oxymel?
I’m so very glad you asked! Beneficial for respiratory conditions, oxymels are one of the oldest form of herbal remedies used. The term oxymel comes from the Latin word oxymeli which means “acid and honey”. Traditionally this method of herbal preparation was often used for herbs that were not palatable by themselves as both honey and apple cider vinegar are quite delicious (especially combined).
The use of an acid (my preferred is apple cider vinegar) and honey makes this a very easy remedy to take as well; you can use it as a salad dressing, take it on its own, or add it to hot water to make warm beverage. In fact when you are feeling under the weather, hot tea/water is perfect for soothing an irritated throat and loosening mucus.
There is an endless list of herbs that can be used in oxymels:
Each of these herbs would be excellent for a cold/flu herbal remedy but today we will focus on hyssop.
Hyssopus officinalis is an excellent expectorant helping to both thin and loosen mucus, as well as cough it up out of the lungs (expectorate). It’s a respiratory antispasmodic making it perfect for folks with asthma or spasmodic cough conditions (like bronchitis, pneumonia etc.). It’s also an antiviral and a febrifuge (which means it helps lower fevers). Hyssop’s stimulating and warming nature combined with it’s anticatarrhal properties also make it a great remedy for congestion in the sinuses as well (including sinus infections).
There are no contraindications for hyssop except pregnancy which makes it a good remedy for the entire family. Combine this herb with the stimulating actions of apple cider vinegar and the soothing effects of honey, I predict it will become a regular member of my winter herbal medicine kit.
Originally from the Mediterranean regions of the planet, hyssop has naturalized here and is very easy to grow. I highly recommend adding a few plants to your gardens! If not you can find dried Hyssopus at Mountain Rose Herbs.
How to Make an Oxymel
What You’ll Need
- Hyssop – either freshly harvested or dried
- Honey – preferably local and raw
- Apple cider vinegar – preferably organic if you can get it
- Jar with lid
- Either a plastic lid or use a sheet of waxed paper in between the lid and the jar
- If you are using fresh herbs roughly chop them using a good knife or a mezzaluna
- Fill your jar with your Hyssop
- Almost full if you are using fresh and 1/2 full if you are using dried
- Pour honey into your jar filling about 1/3 full
- Top off with apple cider vinegar
- Seal and label in a cool and dark location
- If all you have is a metal lid you will want to line it with wax or parchment paper because the acid will cause the metal lid to corrode.
This remedy will be ready in about 2-3 weeks. When you are ready to use it simple strain out the herbs and enjoy. Your hyssop oxymel will keep for 9-12 months in the fridge. Once you find yourself ill you will want to take small doses frequently. An example would be 1-2 tsp every few hours.
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Enjoy and until next time!