your natural self

The Potential Health Benefits of Oxymel: Honey, Vinegar, and How to Make Your Own

Published on January 25, 2024

By Lisa Stockwell

Lisa Stockwell

Lisa Stockwell has worked as a copywriter, writer, author, and editor for 35 years, specializing in the field of healthcare since 2009. She recognized the need for reliable health information while supporting friends through unique health challenges and refocused her career to bring clarity and compassion to healthcare communications. Lisa is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley and a lifelong Northern Californian.

It was one of every grandmother’s cure-alls. Oxymel has been around—and literally on the books—for centuries. It was prescribed by ancient Greeks and included as an important folk remedy for various health issues in both European and American pharmacopeias. 

Today, as science begins to offer evidence for its age-old claims, Oxymel is gaining popularity, both as a healthful tonic and an ingredient for cocktails and other culinary concoctions.

Oxymel is a syrup-like mixture of honey and vinegar, often made with complementary herbs. Its name comes from the Greek words "oxys" (acid) and "meli" (honey), aptly reflecting its sweet and sour taste.

Should you make Oxymel part of your natural health routine? This article covers the history and benefits of this ancient elixir and provides an easy and inexpensive recipe you can make at home.

The Origins of Oxymel

First documented in Greek medicine around 400 BC, Oxymel began as a simple yet versatile syrup of honey and vinegar. 

Oxymel's popularity wasn't confined to Greece. Roman texts embraced it both as a health remedy and a culinary condiment. Throughout the Middle Ages, Oxymel remained a staple in European folk medicine, passed down through generations.

Oxymels were popular in early America, from Appalachian cabins to colonial kitchens. However, the term and variations on the tonic became less familiar in our contemporary world, mostly known to herbalists and herbal devotees. 

Oxymels regained some of their favor in the 1980s, when renowned herbalist Rosemary Gladstar developed her “Fire Cider” recipe, an Oxymel with Echinacea, Turmeric, and other pungent, fiery-like ingredients. 

Today, Oxymels are beginning to get the attention they deserve, and for good reason: as research sheds light on their potential health benefits, scientists are noting the powerful synergy between honey's antioxidants and vitamins and vinegar's acidic properties and natural astringency. 

The Potential Health Benefits of Oxymel

Human clinical trials provide evidence that Oxymel tonics support general health and serve as an effective astringent. Though the combination of honey and vinegar on their own (the most basic version of Oxymel) is beneficial for the body, when herbs are added to the mix, Oxymel gains additional benefits from the properties of the individual herbs. 

The options for herbal combinations are virtually endless, making Oxymel truly customizable to one’s needs and a range of concerns.

The most studied benefits of Oxymels include:

  • Cleansing properties: A recent study demonstrated that the high sugar content and acidity of medical-grade manuka honey combined with the acetic acid in vinegar work synergistically to support healthy bacteria levels in your body. It may potentially support wound healing, creating a less hospitable environment for infection and promoting faster recovery. The study found that neither product alone had the same effect.REF#3444 More research is needed to determine why this combination is effective.
  • Antioxidant properties: Both honey and vinegar contain polyphenols, which are plant compounds with antioxidant properties.REF#3445 REF#3446 Antioxidants help protect the body from oxidative stress from free radicals that can cause cell damage.
  • Healthy metabolic function: In a study that added Zataria, a thyme-like plant, to the Oxymel, Oxymel was found to support several aspects of metabolic function.REF#3447 Your body’s metabolic function affects your inflammatory response, weight, and risk of disease.
  • Digestive health: Studies suggest that combining vinegar's digestion-boosting and satiety-promoting properties with honey's prebiotic support supports healthy digestion and may support weight management.REF#3448

Oxymel is also used frequently to soothe a sore throat and help loosen mucus, although no studies have confirmed these benefits. 

Studies have shown no serious side effects from taking Oxymel, either in animals or humans, making this a safe elixir for supporting general health. 

The Best Ingredients for an Effective Oxymel

Crafting your own Oxymel allows you to customize its flavor and potential benefits. Since nature and manufacturers offer a wide variety of vinegar and honey, each with its own flavor profile and potential health benefits, choosing the right duo for your Oxymel can be overwhelming. 

Here's a guide to determining the best options for your Oxymel:


  • Acidity: Opt for vinegars with at least 5% acidity. Organic raw apple cider vinegar with “the mother” is a popular choice. 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. Wine vinegar and pomegranate vinegar are also good choices for Oxymels. 
  • Flavor: Consider the flavor profile you desire. Apple cider vinegar offers a familiar tang, red wine vinegar adds a deeper, fruitier note, while white wine vinegar has a more subtle flavor. Pomegranate vinegar is sweet and tart, like apple cider vinegar, but with a distinct pomegranate flavor.
  • Go organic: Choose an organic vinegar, since this assures it has no unwanted additives and has been produced using sustainable methods.


  • Raw and unfiltered: Organic raw honey that is unfiltered, unheated and gravity-strained retains its trace minerals and pollens and ensures the greatest potential health properties. Organic raw honey that is completely wild comes from bees never fed sugar syrups of any kind. Look for labels like "raw," "unfiltered," and "unheated."
  • Manuka: Manuka honey is used medically in wound healing because it has a high concentration of methylglyoxal (MGO), which has been found to fight drug-resistant bacteria.REF#3449 Other honey doesn’t contain MGO. But Manuka honey is very expensive and not essential for general health maintenance. Support local beekeepers and opt for honey produced in your region.
  • Floral notes: The flavor of honey is determined by its nectar source. For instance, wildflower honey adds a complex sweetness, while buckwheat honey offers a rich, earthy note.


  • Herbs:  Infuse your vinegar with herbs that offer specific potential health benefits. For immune support, consider oregano, thyme, fresh or dried elderberry, rose hips, or sage. Use ginger or garlic for extra digestive support. 
  • Lemon: You can add lemon for flavor. But since it’s acidic, if you use lemon, reduce the amount of vinegar in the mix by the amount of lemon juice you add.

There is no right or wrong combination when it comes to making an Oxymel. Experiment with different vinegar and honey combinations to discover an Oxymel that works best for you.

How to Make a Simple Oxymel

The simplest Oxymel is a combination of equal parts honey and just-warm vinegar. For about two cups of Oxymel, you’ll need the following ingredients and equipment:

  • One cup of raw unfiltered honey
  • One cup of raw apple cider, red wine, or pomegranate vinegar
  • Glass jar with a tight sealing lid
  • ¼ cup of dried herbs or ¾ cup of fresh herbs of your choice (optional)


  1. Combine honey with lukewarm vinegar. (Heating the vinegar will reduce its potential health benefits, but warming it slightly will help the ingredients blend together.) Add in herbs, if using. Stir to combine all ingredients.
  1. Cover the container with a tight lid. Let the concoction sit on your counter for four to six weeks, shaking it every few days.
  1. After four weeks, strain the resulting liquid and store in a clean jar with a tight lid in a cool dark cupboard. This should keep for up to a year. 

Take one to two teaspoonfuls for everyday immune support to help maintain overall well-being. Most Oxymels are as delicious as they are healthful, and you’ll look forward to your daily dose!


  • 1. , "Sweet and sour synergy: exploring the antibacterial and antibiofilm activity of acetic acid and vinegar combined with medical-grade honeys", Microbiology.
  • 2. , "Honey as a Potential Natural Antioxidant Medicine: An Insight into Its Molecular Mechanisms of Action", Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity .
  • 3. , "Nutrients and bioactive components from vinegar: A fermented and functional food", Journal of Functional Foods .
  • 4. , "Effects of Zataria oxymel on obesity, insulin resistance and lipid profile: A randomized, controlled, triple-blind trial", Journal of Integrative Medicine .
  • 5. , "Oxymel: A systematic review of preclinical and clinical studies", Heliyon .
  • 6. , "Clinical Significance of Manuka and Medical-Grade Honey for Antibiotic-Resistant Infections: A Systematic Review", Antibiotics .