Herbal vinegars were some of the very first remedies that I made for my shop back in 2010 and one of my earliest recipes + tutorials post was on making your own Four Thieves Vinegar. I sold three types of vinegars in my shop: my Tough As Nails Iron Vinegar as a easy-to-digest source of iron, my Amazon Brew for pre- and post-workout support, and a topical Herbal Hair Vinegar for scalp and hair health.
Suffice to say, herbal vinegars have a special spot in my heart for a number of reasons. First, they are abundantly easy to make and very inexpensive (especially when compared with other extract-based remedies that use alcohol as their menstruum). Second, they are alcohol-free and I have always served people who for various reasons do not consume alcohol. While I do use small dose amounts (1 - 3 drops) of alcohol-based remedies in my own personal practice on occasion, I don't drink and have always been interested in alternatives to alcohol-based remedies. In part, removing alcohol as a primary way of creating remedies meant that I had to become skilled at more popular remedy styles such as herbal teas as well as lesser used forms of herbal medicine (at least within modern Traditional Western Herbalism at the time that I was a student and beginning my herbal business) including herbal powders, glycerites, herbal vinegars, and oxymels (when vinegar and honey is combined, also known as honeygars). Finally, herbal vinegars are quite tasty and easy to work into meals, whether adding into sauces or salad dressings.
Using (preferably raw and local) Apple Cider Vinegar as a base for your brew brings in the added benefit of the minerals, vitamins, amino acids, enzymes, and help the body maintain an acid/alkaline balance. Apple Cider Vinegar is an especially good choice for extracting minerals from herbs and I find Apple Cider Vinegar to be an excellent preservative when only dried herbs are used and no additional water is added (following the advice of herbalist James Green).
I'll be sharing all three of my favorite herbal vinegar recipes - two via my site and the third, my Tough As Nails Iron Vinegar will only be available to my Magick Mail subscribers via their super secret Magick Mail member's only page. It's free to subscribe and in turn I give you free stuff. Because that's how I roll (Or maybe pour my tea? Or blend my brews?). But before I do that, I want to make sure you know about an important issue in the herbal community - protecting our herbal heritage, such as vinegar-based remedies that have been around for a very long time, from folks who are damaging that legacy and going after the herbalists trying to protect it.
Fire Cider is a recipe that most herbalists will learn about during their training - whether they come across it in a book or are exposed to it through a class it is a common, well-traveled, and much-loved herbal remedy. As for myself, I made Fire Cider as a student and continued to make it for a small cafe that I worked for in Maine. The Four Thieves vinegar is part of the Fire Cider legacy and herbalist and beloved community elder, Rosemary Gladstar, has documented use of creating and sharing her Fire Cider recipe with her students for well over three decades. It came as a shock to many of us in the herbal community when one company decided to trademark the term "Fire Cider," not announce the trademark through notices to other herb companies until after the period of Public Opposition was over, and then proceeded to order cease and desist notices to many small herbal businesses. If that were not awful enough, they then proceeded to file a lawsuit against three herbalists Mary Blue of Farmacy Herbs, Nicole Telkes of Wildflower School of Botanical Medicine and Kathi Langelier of Herbal Revolution alleging trademark infringement and other nonsense. Learn all the details via the FREE FIRE CIDER site on how to support the boycott, the Fire Cider 3, and how to participate in the upcoming 2nd Anniversary of the Fire Cider movement. You should also learn how to make your own Fire Cider such as the one posted by Mountain Rose Herbs. Or watch a lesson on how to make Fire Cider from Rosemary Gladstar herself!
I like a little bit of revolution in my remedy-making, don't you?
The following recipes are provided in the spirit of continuing to celebrate our craft and heritage as remedy-makers. I encourage you to tweak them (such as adding honey if you want something a bit more sweet and therefore turning them into an oxymel - how magickal!) to fit your unique needs and bring your special spark to your brew.
My Amazon Brew is formulated specifically for athletes recovering from training or games, the vinegar helps reduce recovery time with its anti-inflammatory, vulnerary, and nervine properties. It's an easy addition to a training regime to help reduces soreness and swelling and can be taken before and after hard training sessions and/or competitions. I've had a number of injuries as an athlete over the years and I have found that herbs can provide great supplemental support to proper training and a good sports-medicine trained bodyworker (blessed be the bodyworkers!).
Chamomile (Matricaria recutita): Anti-inflammatory, vulnerary, antioxidant, nervine, and analgesic, Chamomile also addresses arthritis pain, headache, cramps, and exhaustion on a mental and emotional level. In my original recipe I included Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) and while I do think that it is quite a useful herb
Nettles (Urtica dioica): Nettles are full of iron, vitamin E, vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin B, calcium, just to name a few of this green beauty’s constituents. An adrenal tonic, anti-inflammatory, and detoxifying.
St. Joan's / John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum): Vulnerary, nerve restorative, anti-inflammatory, St. John’s Wort treats pain and promotes confidence in self and athletic performance.
Red Clover (Trifolium pratense): Anti-spasmodic, anti-inflammatory, vulnerary, and nutritive. Red Clover supports the natural detoxification process of working out by clearing the body of toxins. Promotes tissue repair and reduces swelling as well as pain.
Optional herb: Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) was part my original recipe but some folks find it to be stimulating rather than relaxing, so I as with any herb, I encourage you to do your research on what does and does not work for you.
Valerian (Valeriana officinalis): With a name derived from the Latin valere “to be in health,” Valerian is both a restorative and relaxant. Increasing blood flow to the heart, Valerian improves performance and stamina while also helping promote a better night’s sleep, supporting the idea that our ability to completely relax enhances our ability to completely invest in our performance.
To begin, grind together the following dried herbs into a coarse powder:
- 1 part Chamomile (Matricaria recutita)
- 1 part Nettles (Urtica dioica)
- 1 part St. Joan's / John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum)
- 1/2 part Red Clover (Trifolium pratense)
- Optional: 1/4 part Valerian (Valeriana officinalis)
Add 1 part of your herbal blend to 5 parts apple cider vinegar. In other words you are creating a 1:5 vinegar extract. You can determine your weight (1 part of herb) to volume (5 parts measurement) by first weighing out your herbs. You might have, for example, 200 grams of powdered herb. Multiple 200 by 5 which would bring you to 1000 which is how many milliliters of vinegar you need. Combine the herbs and vinegar into a glass jar and mix thoroughly. Cap tightly either with a metal top that has a piece of wax paper between the contents of the jar and the metal (to prevent the vinegar from eating away at the metal) or a bpa free plastic lid. Shake daily and sing your charms for three weeks making sure that the herbs stay fully emerged in the vinegar to prevent molding from exposure to air.
After three weeks, strain the herbs from the vinegar and store your Amazon Brew in a glass bottle with secure cap. Refrigeration is not required and recommended dosage is 1 tablespoon in a cup of water before and/or after training sessions and games.
Herbal Hair Rinse
Our Herbal Hair Rinse combines golden, raw apple cider vinegar with healing herbs that will help promote hair growth and beautiful locks. Raw apple cider vinegar is an all-natural conditioner for the hair, aids in manageability of your luscious locks, and cleans the scalp of residue and build-up. Vinegar is very acid/alkaline balancing and helps restore health to a scalp prone to dandruff and itchiness.
Our Herbal Hair Rinse includes the following scalp-nourishing, itch-reliving, hair-growing, highlight-enhancing herbs:
Chamomile (Matricaria recutita): Accentuates golden highlights as well as relieves an itchy scalp.
Lavender (Lavandula officinalis): Soothing to the scalp and spirit while helping the hair to grow
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis): Prevents hair loss and promotes hair growth
Peppermint (Mentha piperita): Balances the pH of the scalp so hair is not too oily or too dry.
Rose (Rosa damascena): Nourishes and revitalizes hair.
Basil (Ocimum basilicum): Great for hair growth.
Nettles (Urtica dioica): Promotes the growth and regrowth of hair, reduces dandruff and helps thicken hair.
Ylang Ylang (Cananga odorata) Essential Oil
Lavender Lavandula officinalis Essential Oil
Rosemary Rosmarinus officinalis Essential Oil
To begin, grind together equal parts of the following dried herbs into a coarse powder:
- Chamomile (Matricaria recutita)
- Lavender (Lavandula officinalis)
- Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
- Peppermint (Mentha piperita)
- Rose (Rosa damascena)
- Basil (Ocimum basilicum)
- Nettles (Urtica dioica)
Add 1 part of your herbal blend to 3 parts apple cider vinegar (or a 1:3 vinegar extract). Learn how to make a weight-to-volume measurement in under the Amazon Brew recipe and follow the brew time directions. Once strained, you can choose to add in the following essential oils per 16 ounces of your vinegar brew:
- 6 drops Lavender Lavandula officinalis Essential Oil
- 5 drops Ylang Ylang (Cananga odorata) Essential Oil
- 5 drops Rosemary Rosmarinus officinalis Essential Oil
To use the Herbal Hair Rinse shake it up and then combine 1 – 3 tablespoons with 1 - 3 cups warm water. After you’ve wet your hair thoroughly, slowly pour the Herbal Hair Rinse mixed with warm water onto your head, massaging it into your scalp. Rinse (or not - I like to keep the vinegar in my hair) and enjoy your majestic mane!
Looking for a vinegar-based source of iron? I've gotten such positive feedback over the years for my Tough As Nails Iron Vinegar from folks who have tried other iron supplements only to feel nauseas afterwards but find my vinegar-based recipe to be gentle on their stomachs. I'm making my Tough As Nails recipe available to my Magick Mail subscribers only who have their own super-secret member's only section on my site. It's free to sign-up and I give you free stuff in return - pretty sweet, right? Sign-up today to get access to my Tough As Nails recipe and more!