For as many years as I can remember my mum has been drinking beverages with blackstrap molasses to help with arthritis. That’s not so surprising as it’s a good source of calcium and minerals like copper, manganese and potassium which are essential for building bones. (It’s useful to note that vitamins D and K and protein also help. Exercise is helpful too.) But I often wondered what that strange, strong smelling syrupy stuff she put in her drinks was.
Blackstrap molasses seems to be one of those ancient cure-alls, a bit like cider vinegar (which is also famous for helping with arthritis – Sir Ranulph Fiennes swears by it.) Because the causes of arthritis are not known the focus remains on relieving the pain. And now there’s a new kid on the block: pine bark extract.
When I say “new kid” you have to understand that while the benefits of vinegar were supposedly noted by Shennong 7000 years ago, we have to wait until around 400BC for Hippocrates to write about pine bark. However, pine bark was only successfully marketed in the 1990s while molasses and cider vinegar have been in the public eye for a lot longer.
However, when my mum reads this she’ll probably scold me for not heeding her wisdom about drinking pine needle tea if ever I get scurvy?
Anyway, I digress. Researchers from Chieitl-Pescara University and Munster University have now found that the pine bark extract sold under the name Pycnogenol significantly relieves the inflammation of osteoarthritic joints which causes arthritis sufferers so much pain; they even found that patients who took the supplements felt relieved from pain for a further two weeks.
That’s good news as at this point my mum will probably regain interest in the conversation. It’s also interesting to note that while blackstrap molasses helps with heavy periods, pine bark has been found to significantly reduce menstrual pain.
As a cure-all the extract has long been known for it’s aid in healing wounds (and scurvy). Research is now being done into its ability to reduce stress, particularly in children with ADHD (google Dr Peter Rohdewald). And because it destroys free radicals it’s being used in many beauty care products too. Though, you know, I think I’ll pass over talking about anything to do with mum’s need to look more beautiful – or I might find myself ducking a jar of flying molasses.
Years ago a doctor friend of mine raved on to me about the benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar combined with a little honey. He advocated drinking this on a daily basis, not even in a medicinal way, but as a beverage of choice! Oh la la, it is vinegar after all!
I tentatively tried a teaspoon of Cider vinegar with a teaspoon of honey in hot water. It was a taste I needed to work on acquiring, but now I love it, in fact I go for a couple of cupfuls of the cider vinegar to get a good tang. It smells a little as those around me remind me every time I drink it, but its worth it.
The reason for my doctor friends’ advice was that cider vinegar (or cyder vinegar) is a bit of a ‘cure all’, helping to ward off colds ( I hardly ever get one), helping with arthritic issues and it can help you lose weight.
There is loads of info available on the net about it so I won’t waffle on here, it’s just that this week someone asked me how you take it, or use it, so here is my advice:
As a drink as mentioned above, especially great first thing in the morning. The honey can be adjusted to taste. The great thing about this drink is that it is still drinkable when its gone cold because you have forgotten to drink it. It is also really refreshing in cold water for a summer drink, thirst quenching.
Use cider vinegar as a salad dressing, or anytime you would use malt vinegar, in fact get rid of your malt vinegar as this can increase the build up of toxins in your joints and replace with cider vinegar which doesn’t do this.
Once you have acquired the taste try it without the honey, especially refreshing as a cold drink.
There is one cider vinegar on the market which has honey already added, its called Honeygar and is worth a try.