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Is Vinegar the Best Germ Killer?
Beware of the superbug
We all know of the hand soap found in restrooms everywhere that boasts its antimicrobial power on the label. Have you ever stopped to wonder what exactly is in it that kills the germs? Most of the products on the market that are advertised to kill germs on surfaces are made with synthetic chemicals, such as Triclosan, that can cause superbug overgrowth. According to Stuart B. Levy, of Tufts University School of Medicine, commonly used disinfectants and antimicrobial agents are causing the same problem as overuse of antibiotics. Using a product that contributes to superbug overgrowth is especially dangerous in places filled with children, sick people and the elderly.
In the United States, a product can only be labeled and advertised as a disinfectant or antimicrobial agent after it has been registered as a pesticide with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The vast majority of the products approved contain Triclosan or other synthetic chemicals that can contribute to superbug overgrowth. Fortunately, there are now also EPA-registered products on the market that are safer, such as a botanical disinfectant, as well as a “green” version using silver that has the lowest toxicity rating with the EPA.
Get to know the natural germ-killers
Herbs and essential oils are not known to cause drug resistance, and numerous studies concur that many, if not most, botanicals have remarkable abilities to kill all types of germs, which is why they have been used for centuries in home remedies. In my research, I came across a remarkable formula called “The Vinegar of the Four Thieves” or “Grave Robber’s Blend.” The story behind the formula speaks volumes about plants and their germ-killing properties. Having grown up with Western medicine, we might not think about herbs and essential oils as ways to keep germs at bay, but they are effective, and this method was once considered commonplace.
The "Vinegar of the Four Thieves"
Around the time of the Black Plague, a family of perfumers robbed the dead. As perfumers, they knew well which essential oils had antiseptic properties, and they infused those in vinegar and rubbed them on their bodies. By doing so, they protected themselves from certain death. The doctors of the time used the same herbs and essential oils to protect themselves while tending to those who were contagious. They wore big draping cloaks over their heads that reached down well below their shoulders. A hole was made for the nose, and attached to the cloak was a 10-inch-long canoe-shaped beak full of antiseptic herbs and essential oils.
How to make your own
1. To make “The Vinegar of the Four Thieves" place a small handful each of dried lavender, rosemary, sage, rue and mint in a gallon jar, and cover completely with organic apple cider vinegar.
2. Cover tightly and let sit for six weeks.
3. Strain and pour into a spray bottle.
Whereas no home can be made completely sterile, the powerfully antiseptic Four Thieves formula can be sprayed on surfaces of concern, such as on cutting boards and doorknobs. Always sure to avoid getting it in your eyes.
Research is confirming that the old folk recipes using herbs and essential oils to kill germs—such as those used by 14th-century doctors during the Black Plague—were based on good science. Many essential oils, such as the oils of oregano, lavender and thyme, are more antiseptic than phenol, which is the industry standard. As of yet, essential oils aren’t individually approved by the EPA, FDA or CDC as germ killers. However, the antiseptic and antiviral properties of certain essential oils—as well as their safety and nontoxicity—have been well established.
By Annie B. Bond, bestselling green-living author. Annie has developed a kit that includes her booklet Natural Flu Protection, plus botanical and silver-based disinfectants, and other secrets of natural germ killing. www.naturalfluprotection.com