Vinegars have many medical uses. You can make your own apple cider vinegar or blackberry vinegar, or you can add certain medicinal or culinary herbs to commercially prepared vinegars.
Apple cider vinegar is one of my favorite external and internal medicines. To make a restorative, refreshing, energiz
ing drink which also helps to dissolve arthritic and gouty deposits, combine a tablespoon of uncooked honey and a tablespoon of a good apple cider vinegar. Add to a glass of water. A little less honey may be used if you are making a pitcherful. This drink is good for small children (not newborn infants, though), as this ancient combination of sweet and sour plus water normalizes the body.
The apple cider vinegar is useful externally to alleviate pain and help reduce sprains. I use at least a cup at a time in the bath to alleviate muscle soreness. I also splash it directly on my shoulders, arms, chest, and torso to restore flagging energy. I don't really know why apple cider vinegar patted on the body or placed in the bathwater will overcome body fatigue, but it does.
Diluted apple cider vinegar may be used in small amounts to help reduce fever and may also be splashed or sponged on the patient to reduce the temperature. Sponge the body in sections and friction dry, and do not allow the rest of the body to be in a draft. Blackberry vinegar may also be used in the same way in relation to fever.
Herb vinegars and here, especially, note the justifiably famous Vinegar of the Four Thieves may be used to cleanse sickrooms and wash the body during any bacterial illness or during epidemics.
Making Vinegar at Home
You will need a wide mouthed jar or crock, a cover for the crock, and the peelings, cores, and bruised apples left after making apple sauce or apple pie. Place the leftover pieces of apple in the crock, and cover with cold water. Place the top on the crock, and store it in a warm place. Occasionally lift the cover and add whatever additional peels, cores, and apple pieces you can. Strain off the froth as you go along. When the vinegar smells and tastes right, strain out the apple pieces. Pour the vinegar into sterilized bottles, and cork for further use. Label.
A Cider Vinegar Shortcut
Aeration is the answer to souring a vinegar. Also, if you wish to quicken the fermentation process, add a small amount of live yeast in a brown paper to your crock or keg.
To aerate as farmers once did, keep two barrels with spigots. In one barrel, make the vinegar as described above. In the second barrel, keep matchstick thin sticks of birch or beech boards. After a few days, open the faucet and allow the cider to dribble through the birch or beech boards. As soon as the second barrel fills up, pour the vinegar into the first barrel again. This process may be repeated several times.
4 pounds fresh blackberries
1-Enough malt vinegar to cover blackberries
1-pound sugar for every pint extracted blackberry juice
Wash the blackberries in cold running water. Place in a glass, earthenware, or ceramic pot. Cover with malt vinegar for three days. Stir once a day. Strain through a sieve, and drain thoroughly by placing a plate on top and putting a weight on the plate. Let it drip all day. Measure the juice, and allow I pound of sugar per pint of juice (for external use, glycerine is preferred see next recipe). Simmer in another glass, ceramic, or earthenware pot for five minutes. Collect and discard the top scum. Cool, bottle, cork, and label.
This vinegar is excellent for fevers, arthritis, and gout. The dose here is I tablespoon dissolved in a large cup of distilled water. Use three times a day. This preparation will somewhat ease the pain and is said to eventually help dissolve arthritic deposits. This vinegar is also said to be good for anemia and may be used with advantage by many heart patients.
Blackberry Glycerite The recipe for this is almost the same as that for blackberry vinegar, but glycerine is used instead of the sugar. For every pint of the extracted juice, use 8 ounces of glycerine (1/2 pint). Simmer the blackberry vinegar and glycerine together for five minutes. Skim. Cool and place in a sterilized, labeled bottle. Store in a cool place.
This glycerite of blackberry can be used in the same way as the vinegar. For painful joints, heat this preparation in small quantities, dip in a folded cloth. Several times a day apply hot cloths to painful joints.
Vinegar of the Four Thieves * This is one of the most interesting legends in the fascinating history of herbalism. There is a possibility that this remedy was used and devised by an apothecary, Richard Forthave, and that the success and usefulness of the remedy created its own myth. This recipe has been in use for centuries, but the legend has it that it was discovered during a devastating bubonic plague.
Four thieves who had safely ransacked empty plagueridden houses were caught by policemen and brought before the French judges in Marseilles. The judges wondered aloud
how these thieves had resisted the plague, especially since they were in and out of plague infested homes.
"We drink and wash with this vinegar preparation every few hours," they answered.
In return for giving the recipe, the thieves were given their freedom.
There are several Four Thieves vinegars. I extracted the simplest recipe from the notebook of a Virginia housewife. She combined a handful of each of the antidisease herbs and steeped them in apple cider vinegar. After the initial two week steeping (a vinegar tincture), she added garlic buds.
This aromatic and antibacterial vinegar is an excellent wash for floors, walls, sinks, bedsteads, pots, and pans, in sickrooms, bathrooms, and kitchens. It will offset a dampweather smell in a house and be a helpful floor and wall wash in a room overcrowded with people.
Externally, this vinegar may be used in small proportions in a bath or diluted for body wash. Ordinary apple cider vinegars may be used in undiluted state if desired, but some of the herbs in this recipe are too strong for the skin, and the vinegar must be diluted.
Internally, the dose is a teaspoon at a time in water no more than one tablespoon an hour (3 teaspoons make up a tablespoon). This acts as a preventive during an epidemic. If you are caught in a flu epidemic you will also want to read the recipe listed in the Cayenne Pepper section and the cinnamon bark preventive.
Vinegar of the Four Thieves
2-quarts apple cider vinegar
2 -tablespoons garlic buds
Combine the dried herbs (except the garlic), and steep in the vinegar in the sun for two weeks. Strain and rebottle.
Label. Add several cloves of garlic. Close lid. When garlic has steeped for several days, strain out. Melt paraffin wax around the lid to preserve the contents, or add 4 ounces of glycerine for preservation.
Modern Antiepidentic Vinegar
1-quart apple cider vinegar
1-pound garlic buds for 8 ounces expressed juice
8-ounces comfrey root
4-ounces oak bark
4-ounces marshmallow root
4-ounces mullein flowers
4-ounces rosemary flowers
4-ounces lavender flowers
4-ounces black walnut leaves
About 12 ounces glycerine
Make separate teas of each of the herbs. First soak each ounce of herb in clean spring water. After about half a day, simmer each herb separately for ten minutes. Steep for a half hour. Strain out, simmer again, and reduce each herb so that it is concentrated. Press garlic buds into 8 ounces of concentrated juice. Add 12 ounces of glycerine to preserve it. Place in a large bottle. Label. Close. You may want to add paraffin for additional preservation power.
Dosage: 1-3 teaspoons during epidemics, or I teaspoon per hour if someone in the family is ill with a communicable disease. Dilute with water if too strong to take, or use added to hot herbal tea.