Monday, May 18, 2009

Vinegar - Not just for your salad

Not having medical insurance means I'll use traditional and alternative remedies for anything not requiring emergency care, ie spurting wounds or broken bones. I could mention that as a biologist, I've had the standard pre-med training, as a certified massage therapist, I know how humans are put together, have completed two herbal apprenticeships and I am certified in First Aid and CPR. I could probably safely handle the first stage of many medical emergencies should it come to that. I can take vitals and administer shots (to livestock at least). I should also point out that I'm not a doctor, so kids, don't try this at home without first consulting a physician. (Nods to legal department.)

Last year I got poison oak for the first time, and the itching was unbearable. There wasn't enough Tecnu and hydrocortizone cream to assuage the itching. My first outbreak this year persisted over two weeks, driving me over the edge, until I tried manzanita/vinegar compresses. Applied topically it takes the itching and redness right out, and halves the healing time of the skin.

My second outbreak this year was a systemic reaction, the kind that would have most people rushing to get cortizone shots. Face puffy, eyes swelled half closed. I was miserable. I immediately boiled up some manzanita, took lots of antihistamines, and went on with life. Five days later my face was not puffy and another two days saw my skin clear up. Seven days instead of 2-3 weeks of itchiness and peeling skin.

The Recipe.
Boil up a handful of manzanita leaves in 1-2 cups of water and let it simmer for 30-40 minutes. Strain out the leaves and mix 1:1 with vinegar. I've been using white vinegar, but apple cider would work just as well. Try it and let me know!

Then I noticed a great side effect - it also took out the swelling and itching of mosquito bites. Maharani and I were being eaten my hordes of mosquitoes while milking. The idea of using DEET or that new chemical (that doesn't work) while milking left lots of concerns. What if I contaminated the milk and inadvertently poisoned someone?

Now, I should mention that I have tested most of the herbal repellents on the market. To say I found them unsatisfactory is an vast understatement. The ingredient they lack is vinegar. So I'm testing a series of essential oils mixed with vinegar and water, which are then sprayed on myself and Maharani. The rose geranium mixture has worked better than those herbal repellents. I'm also going to try lavender and citronella.

What else is vinegar good for? Removing hard water deposits, as a household cleanser, removing all kinds of stains, deorderizing, disinfecting... The list is long. Best of all, your typical household vinegar is non-toxic.

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