Finding a natural solution
"The noblest of fruits is the apple. Let the most beautiful or swiftest have it" –Henry David Thoreau, 1851
"An apple a day keeps the doctor away" originally comes from the Old English proverb “To eat an apple before going to bed will make the doctor beg for his bread.” But this popular saying isn’t just a bit of folk lore. Apples are extremely good for your health. Take advantage of apples’ health benefits by eating them whole, using them in your cooking or—my new favorite way—using apple-derived apple cider vinegar. I recommend you go one step further and double up on the health benefits by pairing apples with honey—another health-benefiting food that is also a natural antibacterial. When you mix apple cider vinegar and honey together you benefit from natural sugars, vitamins, minerals and enzymes with one swift health choice.
The Health Benefits of Honey
"We've got to trust someone—why not let it be the bee?” –D.C. Jarvis
Honey—a sweet food made by nectar-loving bees—is a popular alternative to sugar in many desserts. Rich in vitamins, minerals and enzymes, raw honey is helpful for soothing the stomach, as it is said to be a natural laxative that can improve constipation and prevent fermentation from occurring in your gastrointestinal tract. Honey is also excellent at improving the absorption of calcium, increasing your hemoglobin count and treating nutrient-deficient ailments such as anemia. This popular sweetener is also a natural antibiotic and antibacterial that is useful in treating parasites, and bacterial and fungal infections. In fact, one Bulgarian study of almost 18,000 patients showed that honey improved chronic sinusitis, bronchitis, allergic rhinitis, asthma and hay fever, and stimulated the immune system.
Raw honey can treat allergies, anemia and insomnia, just to name a few.
When applied externally, this antibacterial treats infections, skin grafts, gangrene, stings, bites and burns. In clinical settings, honey has been found to effectively treat fist-sized ulcers and first to third degree burns (found more effective than silver sulfadiazine), where complete healing was “reported without the need for skin grafts and with no infection or muscle loss” by stimulating new tissue growth. It can even draw poisons from the body. So as long as the wound is clean, honey is an excellent healer!
Lastly, eating a spoonful of raw honey can also treat a slew of ailments, including insomnia, hyperactivity, nasal congestion, fatigue, sore throats, stress, osteoporosis and migraines.
Note: When buying honey try to get it as local as possible. Also, raw and organic honey is a lot more medicinally potent.
The Health Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar
Historically, apples have been known to have medicinal properties. When they are not in season they can be fermented and preserved in root cellars as either hard cider or apple cider vinegar. Today, apple cider vinegar is widely available in many brands, one of the most popular being Bragg.
I recently read that the founder of Bragg feeds his older chickens a mixture of apple cider vinegar and honey for 10 days before they are to be served as dinner so that, when cooked, they taste more tender and juicy. He thought that his older chickens didn’t taste as good as his younger chickens because his older chickens had a potassium deficiency; the combination of apple cider vinegar and honey are fed to them to help boost their potassium levels. In the book Folk Medicine: A New England Almanac of Natural Health Care, author D.C. Jarvis says that potassium deficiency symptoms can include loss of memory, alertness, muscle fatigue and lack of endurance as well as sensitivity to cold, susceptibility to sickness and constipation. Lack of potassium can also lead to loss of appetite, nausea, slow healing wounds, stiff joints and leg cramps.
Apple cider vinegar is a delicious must-have in the kitchen and medicine cabinet.
Apple cider vinegar may also prevent and treat acid crystal build-up in the body and joints. Acid crystal build-up can lead to hard, stiff joints and tissue, which could result in arthritis. If you ingest apple cider vinegar, these crystals will pass through the body harmlessly via the kidneys and your body’s natural elimination, keeping your joints and skin supple and elastic.
Apple cider vinegar is also excellent at keeping the blood thin, thus improving circulation and digestion, especially when animal fat intake is high.
Like honey, apple cider vinegar can also prevent the growth of bacteria and mold, both on the surface of your produce and within your digestive tract. This is why apple cider vinegar is useful in treating bacterial and fungal infections such as candida. Apple cider vinegar can even help relieve allergies from animal dander, pollen and food; plus it treat sore throats, sinus infections and chronic fatigue.
What is Switchel?
Take advantage of the health benefits of apple cider vinegar and honey by making switchel. Switchel, which is sometimes called the “original Gatorade,” is a refreshing, electrolyte-laden drink originating in the 1600s. Drink it one to two times a day to quench thirst, restore energy. You can even apply this beverage topically to treat burns, shingles, varicose veins, night sweats and poison ivy.
Switchel is a delicious and easy way to get the health benefits of both apple cider vinegar and honey, supplying all the sugars, vitamins, minerals and enzymes available! *Recipe courtesy herbalist Katherine Krumwiede
• 1/4 cup raw apple cider vinegar
• 2 tablespoons raw honey
• 1 quart filtered water
1. Mix vinegar and honey till dissolved.
2. Add water and stir again till mixed thoroughly.
3. Enjoy! Makes 1 quart.
• “The healing power of honey: From burns to weak bones, raw honey can help” by Kelly Joyce Neff
• “Enjoy fresh produce and a healthy glow with apple cider vinegar” by Kelly Joyce Neff
• “Switchel,” courtesy Diamond Stone Oriental Medicine, Inc.
• Cider Vinegar: The Natural Healer by Margaret Hills
• Apple Cider Vinegar: Miracle Health System by Paul C. Bragg and Patricia Bragg
• The Healing Powers of Honey by Cal Orey
Freelance writer, community herbalist and medicine maker, Jennifer Heinzel hails from the cold city of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Jennifer is an avid writer, especially for anything folklore or myth-related to herbalism. She has written for the Chequamegon co-op, the United Plant Savers' journal, and the NorthPoint Health & Wellness center. Visit Thymes Ancient Remedies to read more from Jennifer.