Apple cider vinegar (ACV) has been widely used as a natural home remedy to improve health and hygiene for centuries. It is used to soothe bee stings, treat painful gout, and even cure hiccups.
The sour taste of straight apple cider vinegar makes most people pucker. (The French word for vinegar means “sour wine.”) That’s because vinegar is the byproduct of fermentation and the liquid is highly acidic. In cooking, that chemical property can be used advantageously in marinades to tenderize tough meats. Vinegar and oil salad dressing is a classic condiment.
It takes two steps to make apple cider vinegar. First, yeast is introduced into a mash of crushed apples. This causes the fruit sugars to ferment and turn into alcohol. Then, bacteria are added to the alcohol mixture. This produces more fermentation and turns the alcohol into acetic acid, the main active compound in any vinegar.
Apple cider vinegar has a very interesting history. It has been used as a medicine since antiquity:
“Around 2500BC, an ancient nomadic tribe called the Aryans developed a soured apple wine, the forerunner of apple cider. The name ‘cider’ is rooted in the Phoenician ‘Shekar’ meaning wine or strong drink. So from the Babylonians to the Aryans to the Phoenicians, the soured apple wine recipe was passed to the Greeks and Romans and people started developing apple cider vinegar as a by-product to their soured apple wines.”
For an upset stomach, mix one tablespoon apple cider vinegar, one cup (eight ounces) warm water, and one tablespoon honey. Sip this concoction to get relief from stomach cramps, indigestion, and gas. It may also help ease heartburn.
Because it is so sour, some people pour what amounts to a shot of ACV and toss it down: through the lips, over the gums, look out stomach, here it comes! This is not a good idea. Undiluted vinegar acid is harmful both to tooth enamel and the esophagus (throat).
Clever Mallory Kievman (13) who hails from Manchester, Connecticut, invented a lollipop to cure hiccups. She calls it a Hiccupop. The ingredients? ACV and sugar. The young entrepreneur had all the medical facts at hand:
“It triggers a set of nerves in your throat and mouth that are responsible for the hiccup reflex arc. It basically over-stimulates those nerves and cancels out the message to hiccup.”
A solution with ACV can soothe a sore throat. It is a hardy germ indeed that can survive the acidic environment that vinegar produces. Bacteria wither when you gargle on the hour with a combination of 1/4 cup ACV and 1/4 cup warm water.
Apple cider vinegar can be used as a preventative for indigestion. When you know a big, rich meal is coming, “add 1 teaspoon of honey and 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar to a glass of warm water and drink it 30 minutes before you dine.”
ACV is high in potassium which thins mucus. When you have a stuffy nose from allergies or a cold, make a mixture of one teaspoon ACV in one to two cups of water. Drink and be prepared for your sinuses to drain.
Some people claim that ACV can help with weight loss. One tablespoon has only three calories. The thinking is that the acetic acid (a compound formed when ethanol, a type of alcohol, undergoes fermentation) present in the vinegar is an appetite suppressant. It is also thought to boost metabolism and reduce water retention. One theory is that ACV blocks the body’s ability to digest starch, lowering the number of calories that enter the bloodstream.
Get some quick pep from drinking one to two tablespoons of ACV to a glass of refrigerated vegetable drink or water. Strenuous physical activity such as yard work or pumping weights releases lactic acid which builds up in the body. This creates a feeling of fatigue. The amino acids in ACV counteract the effects of the lactic acid.
If you awaken in the middle of the night with leg cramps, you may have a potassium deficiency. ACV can help with that, too. Combine two tablespoons ACV and one teaspoon honey to a glass of warm water and drink before bedtime.
Antiseptic ACV can be used externally as well as internally as a health aide.
Dandruff is sometimes caused by excess yeast growth on the scalp. Just as with bacteria, yeast organisms do not thrive in an acidic environment. Here is a classic dandruff cure from Dr. Oz:
“Mix a quarter-cup apple cider vinegar with a quarter-cup of water. Pour this mixture into a spray bottle and spritz it on to your hair and scalp, being careful to avoid the eye and ear area. Wrap your head in a towel. Leave on for anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour, then remove the towel and wash your hair. Try this treatment twice a week as a natural alternative to anti-dandruff shampoos that contain harsh chemicals.”
Clear up unsightly and embarrassing acne, pimples, and skin eruptions and clear up your complexion with good old ACV. Bacteria present is acne are beaten back by the acid bath, which helps balance the pH of your skin. ACV has malic and lactic acids which tenderize tough skin and callouses as they act as exfoliants, removing dead skin from the top surface layers.
Make a breath-freshening gargle by adding one teaspoon ACV to a cup of water. Use this once or twice a day (morning and night).
The inflammatory qualities of ACV can help fade bruises. Soak a cloth compress with ACV and place it directly on the affected area or dab it.
Now that you know all the terrific benefits that apple cider vinegar has to offer make this multitasking health and hygiene aid a staple in your household.