10 February, 2011

sweet folk medicine

Back in Denton is this great natural foods store with an amazing salad bar and cafe. It is one of the places that makes me realize living in a small town like that was actually really cool. Occassionally they have sampling days, in which they lure customers in with many free samples and recipe cards, etc. On one of these days a woman gave me a taste of some raw honey and touted its health benefits, as stated by physician D.C. Jarvis. She even had her own worn copy of his book to show customers. If you have never had raw honey before, it is delicious. It is firmer than regular honey and has more of a bite to it. It's the perfect consistency for spreading onto toast. Sometimes when I feel a cold coming on, I dip a raw piece of garlic into the honey and eat it just like that. This woman convinced me to buy both the raw honey and some apple cider vinegar. I was a pretty easy sell because I had recently seen a recipe calling for apple cider vinegar and the honey was so tasty.

This summer I came across a copy of D.C. Jarvis' Folk Medicine at our annual library book sale, so I bought it and set it aside until recently. I only read about half of the book, but the main gist of it is that you should drink apple cider vinegar and eat honey. This is Jarvis' panacea - have insomnia? try a few spoonfuls of honey before bed; overweight? drink a glass of water with apple cider vinegar before each meal; is your livestock giving birth to underweight calves? pour some apple cider vinegar over their fodder every day.

Obviously I think that he goes a bit too far with these two, but there is some legitimate insight to be gained about Vermont folk medicine. One theme is looking to animals for an example of healthy living. This encourages physical activity and a reasonable diet, as well as things like sleeping with the windows shut in the winter to mimic hens tucking their heads under their wings.

Plus, there are some legitimate benefits to both of these foods. First of all, honey as been shown to reduce burn-healing time and ease symptoms of cough in children, and it may be of beneficial use along with standard treatments for high blood pressure. Early evidence suggests that it might help lower blood sugar levels in diabetic patients when compared to other sugar sources because of its effects on insulin release and glycogen storage. Raw honey has anti-viral, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties, so it might help you to ease a sore throat or relieve a canker sore. Some naturopathic doctors will prescribe patients with pollen allergies raw unfiltered honey that was made within 20 miles of their, the idea being that it exposes you to the antigen in a small amount, just like allergy shots. Apple cider vinegar might also have benefits for diabetics. It is thought to slow starch digestion, thereby decreasing the spike in blood sugar that carbohydrates will cause. It might also help you to feel full more quickly so that you are less likely to over-eat.

The Mayo Clinic website is a good, trustworthy starting place for learning more about the risks and benefits of nutritional supplements. If this is something you are really interested in, you might consider getting a subscription to the Natural Standard website. With the amount of knowledge I have right now, I'm not suggesting that anyone starts consuming either honey or apple cider vinegar by the spoonful on a daily basis, but you might consider incorporating them into your diet as alternatives for other sweeteners and vinegars. If nothing else, they really do taste good.

Here's a recipe for a salad dressing using both of them. Making your own salad dressing really does not take much time and it will greatly increase the nutritional value of your salad. It is so difficult to find a dressing that does not have vegetable oil or high fructose corn syrup or preservatives. Here is one with only six ingredients - and you might already have them all on hand.

Honey Mustard Vinaigrette Recipe:

1/2 c. olive oil
4 T. apple cider vinegar
1 heaping T. honey (raw or filtered)
1 heaping tsp. mustard
1 T. ground flax seeds
black pepper to taste

Pour all ingredients into a glass jar, screw the lid on tightly and give it a good shake. Pour over your salad and enjoy.

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