Make Medicinal Vinegar Extracts

| 6/8/2012 4:09:59 PM

ErinMcIntosh2Erin is the Communications Manager at Mountain Rose Herbs and a graduate of the Columbines School of Botanical Studies. She spends her days photographing flowers, creating herbal treats, and wildcrafting medicinal plants in the magnificent Oregon Cascades. 

Did you know that vinegar can be infused with medicinal herbs to create wonderful alcohol-free extracts? While not as potent as alcohol-based tinctures, an herbal vinegar extract is a strong alternative for children, anyone abstaining from alcohol, or those with alcohol sensitivities.

Vinegar has been used for thousands of years to preserve food, disinfect surfaces, deodorize and make medicinal formulas. In fact, before stills were used to produce high-proof alcohol, most herbal extracts were made with solvents like water, wine and vinegar. The original Four Thieves formula used to protect robbers against infection during the plague is thought to have been made with vinegar as the base.

We know that vinegar, especially organic raw apple cider vinegar, offers health benefits in addition to its extraction abilities. Studies show that vinegar can be helpful for diabetes, high cholesterol, digestion, skin health, hair care, fatigue, detoxification and weight control. Medicinal extractions can be made with vinegar alone or with both vinegar and alcohol to create an acetous tincture. This method will release more active properties than vinegar alone, but straight vinegar extracts still have a lot to offer as medicine if properly prepared.

Dried herbs tend to produce the most effective medicinal vinegar extract, but fresh herbs can be used to make nutritive flavoring vinegars for culinary recipes, since the vinegar will extract minerals as well as the flavor of the herbs. My favorite vinaigrette is made with fresh nettle and mugwort-infused vinegar, but thyme, oregano, garlic and rosemary are nice, too. Dried herbs are preferred when making vinegar-based medicinals since fresh herbs will surrender their juices in the solution. This juice tends to water down the extract and saturate the solvent (vinegar) before it has time to draw out the more powerful constituents you are looking for in a medicine. Powdered herbs are recommended due to the increased surface area of herb they offer in the extraction.


4/29/2015 8:41:35 AM

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