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Be Your Own Herbal Expert
In our first session, we learned how to "listen" to the messages of plant's tastes. In session two, we learned about simples and how to make effective water-based herbal remedies. The third session helped us distinguish safe nourishing and tonifying herbs from the more dangerous stimulating and sedating herbs. Our fourth session focused on poisons in herbs and herbal tinctures, which we made and then collected into an Herbal Medicine Chest.
In this, our fifth session, we will find out how to help ourselves and our families with herbal vinegars, one of the green blessings of the Wise Woman Way.
Why Use Herbal Vinegars?
Herbal vinegars are an unstoppable combination: they marry the healing and nutritional properties of apple cider vinegar with the mineral- and antioxidant- richness of health-protective green herbs and wild roots. Herbal vinegars are tasty medicine, enriching and enlivening our food, while building health from the inside out.
Herbal vinegars are far better for the bones and the heart than soy beverages. They have a reputation for banishing grey hair and wrinkles. Sprayed in the armpits, herbal vinegars are highly effective deodorants. As a hair rinse (try rosemary or lavender vinegar) they add luster and eliminate split ends.
Anything vinegar can do, including clean the kitchen, herbal vinegars can do better.
Vinegars Seek Minerals
Minerals are important for the health and proper functioning of our bones, our heart and blood vessels, our nerves, our brain (especially memory), our immune system, and our hormonal glands. No wonder lack of minerals can lead to chronic problems and getting more can make a big different in health in a few weeks. One of the best way to get more minerals -- besides drinking nourishing herbal infusions and eating well-cooked leafy greens -- is to use herbal vinegars.
Vinegar and Your Bones
It is not true that ingesting vinegar will erode your bones. Adding vinegar to your food actually helps build bones because it frees up minerals from the vegetables you eat and increases the ability of the stomach to digest minerals. Adding a splash of vinegar to cooked greens is a classic trick of old ladies who want to be spry and flexible when they're ancient old ladies. (Maybe your granny already taught you this?) In fact, a spoonful of vinegar on your broccoli or kale or dandelion greens increases the calcium you get by one-third. All by itself, apple cider vinegar is said to help build bones; when enriched with minerals from herbs, I think of it as better than calcium pills.
Vinegar and Candida
Some people worry that eating vinegar will upset the balance of gut flora and contribute to an overgrowth of candida yeast in the intestines. Some people have been told to avoid vinegar altogether. My experience has led me to believe that herbal vinegars help health those with candida overgrowth, perhaps because they're so mineral rich. I've worked with women who have suffered for years and kept to a strict "anti-candida" diet with little improvement and seen them get better fast when they add nourishing herbal vinegars (and fermented foods such as sauerkraut, miso, and yogurt) to their diets.
Making Herbal Vinegars
Fill any size jar with fresh-cut aromatic herbs: leaves, stalks, flowers, fruits, roots, and even nuts can be used. For best results and highest mineral content, be sure the jar is well filled and chop the herb finely.
Pour room-temperature vinegar into the jar until it is full. Cover jar: A plastic screw-on lid, several layers of plastic or wax paper held on with a rubber band, or a cork are the best covers. Avoid metal lids -- or protect them well with plastic -- as vinegar will corrode them.
Label the jar with the name of the herb and the date. Put it some place away from direct sunlight, though it doesn't have to be in the dark, and someplace that isn't too hot, but not too cold either. A kitchen cupboard is fine, but choose one that you open a lot so you remember to use your vinegar, which will be ready in six weeks.
You can decant your vinegar into a beautiful serving container, or use it right from the jar you made it in.
Apple cider vinegar has been used as a health-giving agent for centuries. Hippocrates, father of medicine, is said to have used only two remedies: honey and apple cider vinegar. Some of the many benefits of apple cider vinegar include: better digestion, reduction of cholesterol, improvements in blood pressure, prevention/care of osteoporosis, normalization of thyroid/metabolic functioning, possible reduction of cancer risk, and lessening of wrinkles and grey hair.
Notes for Herbal Vinegar Makers
* The wider the mouth of the jar, the easier it will be to remove the plant material when you're done.
* Always fill jar to the top with plant material and vinegar; never fill a jar only part way.
*Really fill the jar. This will take far more herb or root than you would think. How much? With leaves and stems, make a comfortable mattress for a fairy: not too tight; and not too loose. With roots, fill your jar to within a thumb's width of the top.
* After decanting your vinegar into a beautiful jar, add a spring of whole herb. Pretty.
My Favorite Herbal Vinegar
Pick the needles of white pine on a sunny day. Make herbal
vinegar with them. Inhale deeply the scent of the forest.
I call this my "homemade balsamic vinegar."
Herbal vinegars taste so good, you'll want to use them frequently.
Regular use boosts the nutrient level of your diet with very
little effort and virtually no expense.
In our next sessions we will learn more about herbal medicine making, with a focus on oils, explore the difference between fixing disease and promoting health, learn how to apply the three traditions of healing, and how to take charge of our own health care with the six steps of healing.
Experiment Number One
Experiment Number Two
Experiment Number Three
Taste your vinegars daily for a week, then weekly for five
more weeks. You may, if you wish, decant some of your vinegars
for use after six weeks. But you may also wish to keep observing
them as they age (for years, if you wish). I have some vinegars
which are more than thirty years old and still in good shape.
Note which stay edible the longest, and what happens to those
that become inedible.
Reprint Authorization Information- The following 8 articles are provided by Susan S. Weed © 2002 (Link: http://www.susunweed.com/An_Article_Weed_Self-help1.htm) These articles are designed as lessons for my students in herbal medicine and are not intended for any use other than learning and personal use. To contact Susan S. Weed for reprint authorization contact her at the following email address: firstname.lastname@example.org.