Raw apple cider vinegar, along with coconut oil, diatomaceous earth, and a few other things, ranks high on my list of simple, all-natural, easy to use and inexpensive health aids. It has so many uses and benefits (just see the chart below!) that no pantry or medicine cabinet should be without a bottle, and if you don’t believe me, just read on….
Apple Cider Vinegar
Vinegar has a long and illustrious history. It’s been traced to Egyptian urns as far back as 3000 B.C., and even Hippocrates, the father of medicine, used it to treat his patients. The Babylonians used vinegar as a condiment and preservative, while Julius Caesar’s army used it in a tonic to stay healthy and ward off disease. The Greeks and Romans kept vessels filled with vinegar for healing and flavoring, and in Biblical times it was used as an antiseptic and healing agent—it’s even mentioned in the Bible. Christopher Columbus and his crew brought along barrels of vinegar to prevent scurvy on their trip to discover America. And for centuries the feared Samurai warriors in Japan drank it for strength and power.
But the vinegar that appears on most dinner tables today is a far cry from what our ancestors used for staying healthy. Just as salt has been refined and “purified” over the years to such an extent that it no longer possesses any of its health-giving components, the same is true of vinegar. In fact, the most popular vinegar in supermarkets today is actually a clear, white version created by a food chemist from coal tar!! And because uninformed consumers often buy with their eyes, i. e. what “looks best,” most people purchase this poor imitation of the real thing, or one of the distilled vinegars which have no real nutritional value.
People buying with their eyes don’t know what they’re missing, because natural (un-distilled), organic, raw apple cider vinegar (ACV) is one of nature’s most perfect foods. And health pioneers Paul and Patricia Bragg made it part of their life’s work to re-educate the public about its many values. One of the main reasons raw, unpasteurized ACV is so good for you is that it contains cobweb-like substances called “the mother,” which can, unfortunately, make the mixture look not only cloudy, but downright unappetizing to people with its floating “globs of brown stuff” at the bottom. Some people might even mistakenly think that it’s a sign the vinegar has “gone bad,” when actually just the opposite is true. Distilling not only destroys “the mother” and powerful enzymes, but also removes life-giving minerals like potassium, silicon, and trace elements. The distillation process also destroys the natural malic and tartaric acids, which are important in fighting body toxins and inhibiting unfriendly bacteria. So distilled vinegars are basically just flavoring agents and nothing more.
But fortunately, because of the Braggs and other natural health practitioners, many people are re-discovering the benefits of raw, organic ACV, which are many! It helps:
- promote youthful skin and a healthy body
- remove artery plaque and body toxins
- fight germs, viruses, bacteria and mold naturally
- retard the aging process in humans, pets and farm animals
- regulate calcium metabolism
- keep blood the right consistency
- regulate menstruation and relieve PMS and UTIs
- normalize urine pH, relieving the frequent urge to urinate
- digestion, assimilation and balance pH
- relieve sore throats, laryngitis and throat tickles, and cleans out throat and gum toxins
- detox the body so sinus, asthma and flu sufferers can breathe easier and more normally
- banish acne and athlete’s foot, and soothe burns and sunburns
- treat itchy scalp, baldness, dry hair, dandruff, rashes, and shingles
- fight arthritis and remove crystals and toxins from joints, tissues, organs and the entire body
- control and normalize body weight
Wow! That’s quite a list for something so inexpensive and simple to use! I also read recently where ACV can be used to treat Lyme Disease, something that showed up early on when I first started having some health tests done. The protocol mentioned was to use 1 to 3 tsps. of the vinegar with 8 oz. of water and drink the mixture 3 times a day, before meals. You can use room temperature or hot water, and add a little honey to “soften” the taste. ACV can also be used as a mouthwash, to help relieve constipation, improve memory, alleviate “brain fog,” and much more.
Many famous people and health practitioners make a habit of drinking a “tonic” of 1-2 tsps. ACV with 1-2 tsps. honey in 8 oz. of *high quality water, several times a day. Paul Wenner, the creator of Gardenburger, used it as part of his asthma cure, and Gabriel Cousens, MD, author of Conscious Eating and Spiritual Nutrition, has said that “The use of Bragg’s organic apple cider vinegar is a wonderful health aid, the #1 food I recommend in helping to maintain the body’s vital acid-alkaline balance.”
* TIP: If you drink distilled water over a period of time (something I don’t recommend doing), it can leach vital nutrients from your system. Adding some ACV to it can help rectify the situation.
And for those of you out there interested in shedding some pounds, you will be happy to know that ACV helps with that, as well. Since it naturally supports your body in getting rid of excess fluids, and works to speed up a slow metabolism and “curb” your appetite, you’ll have yet one more reason for adding ACV to your daily health regimen. This “miracle in a bottle” also makes a great first aid treatment on burns of any kind. Just splash some on the affected area to help stop the pain and also prevent scarring and infection.
Here’s an excerpt from an article by nutritionist, herbologist and homeopathic practitioner John Summerly of Prevent Disease that mentions some of the conditions ACV can treat and the science that backs that up….
Apple cider vinegar is purported to treat numerous diseases, health conditions, and annoyances. To name a few, it kills head lice, reverses aging, eases digestion, prevents flu, prevents acne, lowers blood pressure, reduces inflammation, kills fungus, regulate pH balance, dissolves kidney stones and helps relieve allergies, migraines, asthma, nausea, heart burn and wash toxins from the body. Can it really do all these things? You bet it can and more! But what does science say?
- Diabetes. The effect of apple cider vinegar on blood sugar levels is perhaps the best researched and the most promising of ACV’s health benefits. Several studies have found that vinegar may help lower glucose levels. For instance, a study (White, A. Diabetes Care, November 2007) of 11 people with type 2 diabetes found that taking two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar before bed lowered glucose levels in the morning by 4%-6%. In another study from Arizona State University, subjects took a drink of 20 grams of ACV and 40 grams of water. Those with insulin resistance who drank the vinegar had 34% lower postprandial (after-meal) glucose compared to controls. Vinegar may be the most cost-effective medicine in history, but most people with diabetes still aren’t taking it.
- High Cholesterol. A 2006 study reported in Medscape General Medicine, showed evidence that ACV could lower cholesterol. In a study published in a foreign medical journal, scientists found an apple cider vinegar-enhanced diet may increase in HDL (good cholesterol), and reduce levels of triglycerides. Research in rats suggests that apple-cider vinegar can help control triglycerides and cholesterol (Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, June 22, 2011).
- Blood Pressure and Heart Health. Another study in rats found that vinegar could lower high blood pressure. A large observational study also found that people who ate oil and vinegar dressing on salads five to six times a week had lower rates of heart disease than people who didn’t. Researchers have suggested that ‘this reduction in blood pressure may be caused by the significant reduction in renin activity and the subsequent decrease in angiotensin II’. Potassium in the vinegar ‘balances sodium levels in the body, which aids in maintaining blood pressure within healthy limits’ and ‘apple cider vinegar also contains magnesium, a mineral that works to relax blood vessel walls and thus lower high blood pressure’.
- Cancer. A few laboratory studies have found that vinegar may be able to kill cancer cells or slow their growth. One study found that eating vinegar was associated with a decreased risk of esophageal cancer. Another associated it with a decreased risk of bladder cancer. In recent trials, pectin, which can be found in ACV, has shown promise in helping to slow the growth of cancerous cells within the prostate (http://www.news-medical.net/news/20100702/Modified-Citrus-Pectin-holds-promise-against-prostate-cancer.aspx). In addition, apple cider vinegar’s acidity aids in detoxifying and cleansing the digestive tract and cleaning out the colon, which supports the health of the prostate as well.
- Weight Loss. For thousands of years, vinegar has been used for weight loss. White vinegar (and perhaps other types) might help people feel full. A study (Ostman, E. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2005) of 12 people found that those who ate a piece of bread along with small amounts of vinegar felt fuller and more satisfied than those who just ate the bread. A 2009 study on mice showed that consuming acetic acid (the active component in ACV) up-regulates the expression of genes for fatty acid oxidation enzymes in the liver, causing suppression in body fat accumulation. In a double-blind experiment, obese Japanese were assigned to three different groups based on similar body weights, body mass indexes (BMI), and waist circumference. Each group drank a 500 ml drink containing either 30ml, 15ml, or 0ml of vinegar daily for 12 weeks. Those in the 30ml and 15ml groups had lower BMI, visceral fat area, waist circumference, serum triglyceride, and body weight to the control group of 0ml. The 12-week weight losses were modest: 1.2kg in the 15ml group and 1.7kg in the 30ml group. These two groups consumed a similar number of calories to the control group and also performed a similar amount of exercise, so the effect is not likely to have been due to an impact on appetite or other lifestyle changes. It was concluded that consumption of vinegar might reduce obesity
AND ACV can clean almost anything in your house. Just add liquid castile soap, high quality water, and essential oil (optional) and you have an environmentally-friendly mixture for cleaning floors, the bathroom, kitchen, etc. ACV can also be used as a fabric softener and in the wash cycle to prevent fabrics from fading. Try vinegar and water as a non-toxic way to clean windows, but be sure to use a micro fabric cloth for wiping, instead of newspaper, which can contain toxic dyes. And you can help keep your drains unclogged by sprinkling some baking soda down them, followed by ACV. Let the mixture bubble for 15 min., then rinse with hot water. Baking soda and ACV also make a wonderful spa-like bath for soaking away aches and pains and detoxing the body. It’s almost hard to believe that something so simple and inexpensive could have so many benefits and uses! No home should be without it!
Here are some of the various uses for ACV that Summerly listed in his article:
Hair: It is widely known that apple cider vinegar can be used as a rinse for your hair after shampooing to add healthy body and shine. Recycle an old shampoo bottle and fill it with 1/2 a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and a cup of cold water. Pour through your hair after shampooing several times a week.
Face: Did you know that apple cider vinegar can help regulate the pH of your skin? Dilute apple cider vinegar with two parts water, and spread the concoction over your face with a cotton ball as a toner. You can do this at night after washing, and in the morning before you apply your moisturizer. You can also dab apple cider vinegar directly onto age spots and leave them on overnight to lighten their color.
Hands and Feet: Are your hands and feet feeling tired and swollen after a long day? Treat yourself to a personal spa massage by rubbing apple cider vinegar onto them.
Sunburn: Suffering from a bad sunburn? Add a cup of apple cider vinegar to your bath and soak for 10 minutes.
Teeth: Did you know that apple cider vinegar can help remove stains from teeth? Rub teeth directly with apple cider vinegar and rinse out. PERSONAL NOTE: I would be careful with this one since ACV is acidic and could damage tooth enamel. In fact, I would recommend that whenever you drink or use ACV in the mouth that you always rinse immediately with pure water.
Aftershave: Fill a bottle with equal parts apple cider vinegar and water and shake to blend.
Detox: Add 2 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to a 1 or 2 liter filtered water bottle. Drink this throughout the day to cleanse your body and kidneys all day long.
Drain Cleaner: Baking soda and apple cider vinegar is an amazing bubbly combination that has many uses. As a drain cleaner, sprinkle baking soda down the drain, then add apple cider vinegar and let it bubble for 15 minutes, then rinse with hot water. This is a safer alternative to dangerous drain cleaners.
Digestion: A small amount of apple cider vinegar, taken just prior to a meal, will stimulate production of digestive juices.
Dandruff: A home remedy for dandruff is to mix 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar with 1/4 cup water. The vinegar solution is thought to restore the restore the pH balance of the scalp and discourage the overgrowth of malassezia furfur, the yeast-like fungus thought to trigger dandruff.
Mosquito and Insect Bites: Using as little as 1/4 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar will relieve insect bites instantly.
Stomach Aches: Mix 1 tablespoon of organic apple cider vinegar with 12 ounces of warm water, and drink in the morning on empty stomach. Feel free to add a little honey or maple syrup.
Alkaline Acid Balance: Some alternative practitioners recommend using apple cider vinegar to restore alkaline acid balance. The theory behind the alkaline diet is that our blood is slightly alkaline (with a normal pH level of between 7.35 and 7.45) and that our diet should reflect this pH level. Proponents of the alkaline-acid theory believe that a diet high in acid-producing foods leads to lack of energy, excessive mucous production, infections, anxiety, irritability, headache, sore throat, nasal and sinus congestion, allergic reactions, and increased risk of conditions such as arthritis and gout.
Poison Ivy: Kill poison ivy without using Roundup with white vinegar, though it might take a few days. Fill your garden sprayer with straight, undiluted white vinegar and take aim at the poison ivy leaves and crowns. Try not to soak the ground, since it will result in inhospitable acidity in the soil. If you want, you can use calcitic lime to neutralize any vinegar in the soil afterwards. Read more at http://www.realfarmacy.com/7-ways-to-kill-poison-ivy-without-using-roundup/#DofldpR73pBsJ43U.99
And here’s a post that mentions a number of ways to use ACV around the house….including getting rid of fruit flies!
And this site is a great resource for information on ACV, including a routine to help with hair loss:
Want to add more ACV to your daily routine? Start with this all-purpose health drink that helps detox and fortify the body:
Apple cider vinegar is a natural antibiotic and antiseptic that fights germs and bacteria inside and outside the body. It’s been known to help with PMS and menstrual cramps, morning sickness, skin problems, chronic fatigue and more. It’s also a good heartburn or upset stomach remedy. Many people think that too much acid is what causes heartburn, but it actually occurs when there isn’t enough of the right kind of acid to digest food properly. Most over-the-counter antacids appear to help, but the relief is usually temporary and they leave the stomach more alkaline, which ends up aggravating the situation. Apple cider vinegar is rich in acetic and malic acids that increase the acidity of digestive fluids, causing them to flow faster, which results in improved digestion and assimilation.
Apple cider vinegar (ACV) also contains potassium, which keeps tissues healthy, soft and pliable, and helps eliminate toxins by putting them in solution so that they can be carried out of the body. Potassium is also like a detergent for the arteries and helps thin and cleanse the blood, so this protocol works to relieve heart ailments and high blood pressure. And the natural acids and enzymes in the drink help with rheumatism, arthritis, bone pain and stiff joints, when taken 3 or 4 times a day over several months. Plus, using this drink helps control and normalize weight, can relieve a sore throat, promotes a youthful body and healthy skin, relaxes the nervous system, alleviates stress, and promotes deep sleep when taken before bedtime. Pretty good for something so simple and easy to prepare!
The recipe for this healing, cleansing tonic is as follows:
- 8 oz. high quality water (I recommend using structured water), warm enough to melt the honey
- 1 to 2 tsp. *raw apple cider vinegar, preferably organic
- 1 to 2 tsp. **honey, preferably raw and organic
Mix the vinegar with the honey and, depending on the dis-eases you want to address, drink up to 4 times during the day, or at night before going to bed. The amount of either ingredient can be adjusted for comfort and taste. When apple cider vinegar and honey combine, the chemical formula of each changes. So if you have indigestion or diabetes and are concerned about the acid content of the vinegar or the sugar content of the honey, you may find that the two working together do not produce negative results. A variation of this routine, where you take 2 TBS. of ACV in 8 oz. of water at bedtime, has been shown to moderate waking glucose concentrations in adults with well-controlled Type 2 Diabetes.
*Bragg’s makes a raw, unfiltered, organic apple cider vinegar; Dynamic Health, Jarrow and Spectrum are other possible brands to try.
**Honey comes from flowers (by way of bees, of course!) and has a very light energy; try to use a honey made from flowers known to provide support for the heart and lungs, if possible, and that’s harvested locally—that way it will help the body build up immunity to allergens common to your particular area of the country. Or, Y. S. Organic Bee Farm honey is a great honey and what I normally use. You can also try substituting coconut sugar (available from Raw Food World and elsewhere), dried sugar cane juice (Sucanat), which is high in potassium, for the honey, and, for variety’s sake, occasionally use mint tea in place of the water.
FYI, you can get raw, unpastuerized ACV at discount prices at Vitacost and iHerb, two of my favorite on-line places to shop. And for more information about ACV and ways to incorporate it into your daily health routine, check out the book by Paul C. and Patricia Bragg titled Apple Cider Vinegar: Miracle Health System.
And to end on, an interesting article about how they are finding that vinegar, at certain concentrations, has no problem killing tuberculosis and other resistant mycobacteria:
Related Self-help Health post:
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Disclaimer: Please note that any information here is provided as a guideline only, and is not meant to substitute for the advice of your physician, nutritionist, trained healthcare practitioner, and/or inner guidance system. Always consult a professional before undertaking any change to your normal health routine.