What Is an Oxymel? Discover Its Benefits & Usage—Plus, Meet Our New Black Elderberry Tonic

Published on July 13, 2021

What Is an Oxymel? Discover Its Benefits & Usage—Plus, Meet Our New Black Elderberry Tonic
What Is an Oxymel? Discover Its Benefits & Usage—Plus, Meet Our New Black Elderberry Tonic

Been seeing or hearing the term oxymel lately? This classic elixir is having a bit of renaissance, and we couldn’t be more excited about it. After all, at Gaia Herbs, we combine traditional herbal wisdom with modern scientific expertise to create the highest-quality wellness solutions for today’s needs.

Which is precisely what we’ve done with our brand-new Black Elderberry Tonic—our spin on the time-honored oxymel. Read on to learn exactly what makes up an oxymel and why our new tonic is so special.

What Makes an Oxymel—And Why You Should Make One Part of Your Routine

An oxymel is a traditional elixir of vinegar (typically apple cider vinegar) and raw honey, often with complementary herbs. Indeed, the term comes from the ancient Greek word oxymeli, which translates to “acid and honey.” Unsurprisingly then, oxymels have been around—and literally on the books—for centuries, documented since the age of Hippocrates and showing up as important folk remedies for a wide array of issues in both European and American pharmacopoeias.*

But the term and variations on the tonic itself have stayed somewhat under the radar and out of the public eye in our contemporary world, mostly just known to herbalists and herbal devotees. Oxymels did have a brush with fame back in the 1980s, though, when renowned herbalist Rosemary Gladstar developed her beloved Fire Cider recipe, an oxymel with Echinacea, Turmeric, and other pungent, fiery-like ingredients. And their star has been on the rise ever since. Thankfully, these days, oxymels are finally getting much more of the attention they deserve, even making headlines recently in Bon Appetite!

It’s for good reason: Apple cider vinegar and raw honey have been turned to for millennia to support the immune system, among other uses.* Though these two ingredients on their own (the most basic oxymel) are beneficial for the body, when herbs are added to the mix, you get an even more supportive elixir.* The options for herbal combinations are virtually endless, making the oxymel truly customizable to one’s needs and a range of concerns.*

What’s more, oxymels taste great and are highly versatile—they can be enjoyed on their own or used in all manner of recipes (keep reading for two of our favorites). And, they can easily be added to a daily wellness routine to support overall health.*

Our Oxymel Approach: The Best Vinegar and Honey + the Best Herbs

At Gaia, we’ve taken the standard, revered oxymel recipe and added organic Black Elderberry and organic Acerola to create a deliciously different and incredibly versatile option for everyday immune support.* We use only the most carefully chosen herbs and ingredients, including organic apple cider vinegar with the “mother” and organic raw honey, to create the highest-quality product.

The Best Black Elderberries

Black Elderberries have a long history of use for supporting immune health.* Though traditional herbalists didn’t know it then, these small, dark berries are rich in constituents called polyphenols, antioxidants that can support the immune system to help us all stay feeling well.*

We pick only the best Elderberries for our entire line of Black Elderberry products—including our new tonic—a variety called Haschberg that is rich in polyphenols, specifically beneficial flavonoids and anthocyanins. The berries come from a renowned European farming cooperative based in Austria, from growers that have a deep respect for the land and for this powerful historic herb: Each and every Elderberry is handpicked at its peak ripeness and fresh-pressed shortly after harvest to preserve potency.*

Additional Support from Acerola

For additional antioxidant support, we include Acerola.* Also known as West Indian Cherry or Barbados Cherry, Acerola does look similar to a cherry—it’s a deep red color when ripe. It has been called a superfruit, likely because of its high content of vitamin C and other antioxidant compounds, such as carotenoids.*

Vinegar with Mother Nature’s Wisdom

What do we mean when we say we use organic raw apple cider vinegar with the “mother”? If you’ve ever purchased raw apple cider vinegar and noticed something floating in it, that’s the mother. It is composed of strands of proteins, enzymes, and friendly bacteria—in other words, good stuff that only adds to the vinegar’s ability to support immune function.*

Unbeelievable Honey

Our organic raw honey comes from a cooperative of beekeepers using traditional, sustainable harvesting methods deep in the wilderness areas and untouched reserves of western Tanzania. That means it is completely wild, from bees never fed sugar syrups of any kind. The honey is gently processed, without the use of heat, to ensure its raw state, and it is fairly traded. What's more, the operation is carbon negative and creates economic opportunity in rural communities through meaningful jobs and beekeeping training.

At Gaia Herbs, we have nothing to hide and everything to share when it comes to the ingredients we use in our products. That's why we launched, the industry's first herb traceability platform, as part of our commitment to transparency. At the site, simply enter your supplement's ID number (located on the back of all Gaia Herbs products) to learn more about how all of the herbs in the formula were grown, harvested, and extracted; the origin of these ingredients; and to see the results of the rigorous quality tests they went through in order to validate their purity and potency.

Meet Our Oxymel: Gaia Herbs Black Elderberry Tonic

Black Elderberry Tonic

Add these top-quality ingredients together—organic raw honey, organic apple cider vinegar with the mother, organic Black Elderberries, and organic Acerola—and you get our new Black Elderberry Tonic, a delicious USDA Certified Organic, non-GMO wellness tonic formulated to provide adults with daily support for immune health.* Each 1 teaspoon serving contains 3.2 grams of fresh Black Elderberries, the equivalent of 55 individual berries.

Our new elixir is made with these four whole-food ingredients and nothing else—no added flavors or artificial preservatives or sweeteners—and is vegetarian, soy-free, gluten-free, and dairy-free.* It joins our family of safe, gentle, and trusted Black Elderberry supplements for help maintaining immune health.* Our line includes syrups, capsules, and gummies, so you can get the support you need in the format that works best for your lifestyle.*

A Tasty Take on Immune Support: Black Elderberry Tonic Recipes*

Did we mention that our Black Elderberry Tonic is as delicious as it is versatile? The berry flavor is a perfect blend of sweet and sour, making it enjoyable and ready to be sipped straight from the spoon or mixed into sparkling water or other drinks, drizzled over fruit, and the list of possibilities goes on.

Find two of our favorite ways to use the tonic in the kitchen via the recipes below, developed by Lily Holmberg, Gaia Herbs Director of Learning.

Gaia Herbs Black Elderberry Tonic Iced Tea Mocktail

Yield: 1 drink


  • 1 cup (8 oz) green tea, brewed according to package directions and cooled
  • Ice
  • 1 teaspoon Gaia Herbs Black Elderberry Tonic
  • Sparkling water (optional)
  • A few small sprigs of fresh herbs, such as Basil or Lemon Balm
  • A lemon wheel


  1. Pour cooled tea over ice, then add Black Elderberry Tonic. Stir gently. Add sparkling water, if using.
  2. Lightly rub herbs between hands until they are fragrant and slightly crushed, then add to the glass and stir gently to incorporate.
  3. Add lemon wheel to the side of the glass or squeeze slightly and add directly to the beverage for more lemon flavor. Salut!


Gaia Herbs Black Elderberry Tonic Vinaigrette


  • ¼ cup good-quality olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons Gaia Herbs Black Elderberry Tonic
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice and zest
  • 1 teaspoon mayonnaise (optional)
  • ½ small garlic clove, grated with a small grater or chopped very fine (optional)
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Add olive oil, Black Elderberry Tonic, lemon juice, and mayonnaise (if using) to a small bowl or jar with a tight-fitting lid. Whisk if using a bowl or shake vigorously if using a jar, until ingredients come together and emulsify.
  2. Add lemon zest, garlic (if using), and salt and pepper to taste (at least a big pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper, but adjust according to preference). Whisk or shake again to incorporate ingredients. Enjoy!

Expert Tips:

  • This vinaigrette is wonderful as a salad dressing but versatile for other uses, too: Just before serving, drizzle over warm roasted vegetables; stir into pilafs or warm grain salads; or use as a sauce for roasted tofu, fish, etc.
  • Mayonnaise helps the ingredients come together easily in an emulsion for a creamier dressing. But feel free to omit mayonnaise if it’s unavailable or you don’t like it—the vinaigrette will still taste great.
  • You can omit the garlic altogether or adjust to your taste.
  • Lemon zest is a lovely addition, but this dressing is also great without the zest if you prefer.

Make the recipes? Let us know how they turn out! Share your sweet (and sour!) success with us via Instagram and Facebook.

And if you're interested in other Gaia Herbs supplements containing Black Elderberry, view our full list of Black Elderberry products.