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Medicinal vinegars are a kind of herbal extract – and are a fascinating option for those who wish to avoid using alcohol for tinctures. They also have some distinct qualities of their own which may be beneficial. An oxymel is similar; oxymel is an old word for a “sweet and sour herbal syrup” – it contains vinegar, honey and herbs.
Both oxymels and vinegars are “ancient” herbal preparations that have been around for hundreds of years. The reason why these substances were used was that they both drew out the nutritious / medicinal qualities of the plants and acted as preservatives. Remember, in old days there was neither electric refrigeration nor global food distribution. Fruit came once per year, in the fall, and in order to make it last the family had to use preservation methods. Vinegars and oxymels were two of the methods used to keep a supply of herbs for later in the year. Also used in old times were oils such as olive oil… and wine, which often had herbs added to it in ancient times. Herbs were also of course hung up to dry and then put in jars.
This is a quote from TheNerdyFarmWife.com about the benefits of medicinal vinegars:
“Medicinal vinegars (Vinegar Extracts) have been around since ancient times, and were an excellent way to preserve and dispense herbs before distilled spirits were known about. While the advantages of using vodka or brandy to make your herbal tinctures are many – including greater potency and longer shelf life, there are those who wish to avoid alcohol for personal reasons or due to the higher cost, making vinegar extracts ideal for them to create.
Vinegar extracts (also known as “aceta”) are weaker than alcohol based tinctures, so the required dose is higher. And, while vinegar won’t draw out as many of the beneficial components of an herb that alcohol will, it does excel at drawing minerals and vitamins from a plant. Add those extra nutrients to the already established benefits of apple cider vinegar and you have a very acceptable option for your herbal remedies toolbox.”
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