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Saturday, July 18, 2015

Headaches Begone with Switchel!

Yesterday afternoon, a friend of mine stopped and shared something new with me -- switchel. I'd never really heard of it before, and she mentioned that it was great for headaches. Intrigued, I had to do some research on this.

CideRoad is the brand my friend brought over.
Honestly, I didn't love it. I thought it a little bland.
More ginger would've been nice.

Going way back in history, Hippocrates prescribed something called oxymel -- vinegar mixed with honey. It was used as a remedy for various ailments on its own, but it was also used as a pleasant-tasting carrier for not-so-pleasant medicinal herbs.

The Vermont Switchel Company

Switchel kind of takes oxymel and turns it into a refreshing beverage. Switchel, which is thought to have originated in the Caribbean, had become a popular summer drink in the American colonies by the 17th century. In the 19th century, it was nicknamed haymaker's punch because it was served to thirsty farmers during the summer hay harvest. Prior to the discovery of electrolyes and the advent of blue sports drinks, switchel fit the bill for replacing minerals lost through sweating.

Superior Switchel

The ingredients for switchel are quite simple -- water, ginger, apple cider vinegar, and a sweetener (e.g., honey, molasses, brown sugar, or maple syrup). Except for the water, all of the ingredients contain potassium to assist with rehydration. The ginger itself is an important ingredient, too. Apparently, it "warms the stomach," making it possible for a person to drink more fluid than if he/she were drinking plain cold water alone.

Up Mountain Switchel

I did some more digging, and it seems that, to my friend's point about the headaches, ginger is a popular home remedy for headaches. Lucky me, I had a chance to test out her claim the same day.

Last night, I came down with a massive, head-splitting pain. After suffering miserably for a couple of hours, I made myself a glass of switchel. I didn't use a recipe but just mixed:

  • A glass of water
  • 1 Tbsp fire cider (apple cider vinegar that's been steeped in herbs)
  • Some honey
  • About a Tbsp of ginger 
Lo and behold, within 15-20 minutes I did indeed feel human again. I actually felt fairly well!

Fire Tonic No9 is the fire cider brand I used.
There's a big dispute about the product bearing the name Fire Cider,
but that's a different story.

I realize this post is only loosely related to bees or honey, since honey is just an ingredient in switchel (and not even the main ingredient or a necessary one since it can be replaced by another sweetener). However, the pain relief came so quickly that I wanted to share this since it might be helpful to a lot of people. In particular, I have some people in mind who limit their use of pain killers due to kidney conditions, and I think they could benefit from this easy, fast, healthful alternative.

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