Many people consider fermented foods one of the healthiest foods in the world, and apple cider vinegar would make this list, as it’s fermented. It’s created from pressed and strained apple pulp, to which yeast is sometimes added to speed up the fermentation process, and, in addition, it can be pasteurized or unpasteurized. Apple cider vinegar has also became known as a “cure all” primarily because of a 1950s publication written by D.C. Jarvis titled Folk Medicine: A Vermont Doctor’s Guide to Good Health that claims it has an ability to cure just about everything. So, what can apple cider vinegar really do?
First things first. There seem to be a number of people who support apple cider vinegar and an equal number that don’t support it. Those who support it argue all apple cider vinegars are not equal. They maintain the “white” vinegar you purchase at your local grocery star is derived from coal tar. They also allege “distilled” vinegar is so processed that any natural acids are completely destroyed. Moreover, they insist that because many vinegars are pasteurized to kill microorganisms, the vinegar’s heat-sensitive nutrients are destroyed rendering such vinegars useless.
Apple cider vinegar supporters also maintain unpasteurized organic apple cider vinegars are supperior products compared to white, distilled, or pasteurized vinegars. They claim unpasteurized organic vinegars are full of minerals, mineral salts, vitamins, and amino acids and that such vinegars are more in line with the medicinal elixirs Hippocrates, the father of medicine, used to give his patients in the fourth and fifth centuries. Unfortunately, scientific researchers doubt any beneficial enzymes exist in apple cider vinegar because they claim enzymes couldn’t survive in such an acidic environment.
One problem for apple cider vinegar supporters is they have few scientific studies to back up many of their health claims, and, when studies have been conducted, most have shown that if apple cider vinegar did indeed work, it’s often not as effective as other treatments; however, a few studies do seem optimistic. For instance, one study conducted by Arizona State University found apple cider vinegar improves insulin sensitivity, and a few other minor studies seem to indicate it may aid in a person’s efforts to lose weight. A study on rats also suggests apple cider vinegar’s acetic acid may lower blood pressure. How it does it is unclear, but researchers believe it either increases a compound that relaxes blood vessels called nitric oxide, or it inhibts an enzyme that affects the production of the angiotensin II hormone, which constricts blood vessels.
Here are a number of folk remedies involving apple cider vinegar that may help:
- Dandruff. One recommendation is to mix apple cider vinegar half and half with water and not rinse it out. Another recommendation is to put it directly on the scalp without diluting it and leave it on for up to an hour before rinsing. Apparently, it restores proper pH balance.
- Digestion. Low stomach acid may improve when 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar is added to 8 ounces of water and taken twenty minutes before a meal. If you’re not sure whether you have low acid or not, the suggestion is to try it and see if digestion improves. However, if you have inflammation of the stomach lining or gastric ulcers, DO NOT try it because it apparently worsens stomach problems.
- Heartburn. There’s no scientific evidence that apple cider vinegar cures heartburn, but many people swear by it and use it when heartburn strikes. I tried it once when I had bad heartburn, and it really did work. From what I learned this is probably how it works. It has to do with the entrance to the stomach, known as the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), which opens when food is swallowed and stays closed when food is absent. When it’s closed there’s a pressure difference between the esophagus and stomach, but if the muscles relax too much—which can be caused when you eat alkaline foods or consume foods too low in acid—the pressure equalizes and acid may leak into the esophagus. You would think if that’s the case, the last thing you should do is drink apple cider vinegar, but acid also causes the LES to close tight; however, drinking plain water may also return the acid to where it’s supposed to be and the LES will close. So, maybe the water should be tried first, and, the apple cider vinegar second because critics of apple cider vinegar say it has the potential to damage the digestive tract’s delicate lining. This damage can supposedly occur with either pills or liquid.
- Pain. Some people assert when apple cider vinegar is applied to the neck, shoulders, and forehead a half an hour before a shower, it alleviates pain.
- Removes Skunk Odor. If your pet gets sprayed by a skunk, vinegar is supposed to take out the nasty smell. I heard tomato juice does the same thing. Fortunately, I’ve never had a reason to try either one.
- Skin Problems. Apple cider vinegar is supposed to restore proper pH and create a glow to your skin because it acts as a toner to shrinks pores and improve circulation. Acne problems are also purportedly helped by apple cider vinegar, although, apparently, some people have been burned when they applied it full strength. It may also help pimples created from shaving or improve chapped, cracked, or dry skin. Because it may burn, the recommendation is to dilute it half and half with water and then apply it to the problem areas. People with sensitive skin may also benefit from apple cider vinegar because when added to a bath, it suppposedly inhibits rash and infection-causing bacteria.
- Sunburns. Apple cider vinegar may also relieve sunburns. Recommendations are to soak a cloth in vinegar and then apply it directly to the burn to draw out the heat. People who have tried it maintain you’ll be able to feel the heat transfer to the cloth and that it really works.
- Warts. If you’ve got warts the recommendation is to soak in a half and half water and vinegar solution for twenty minutes daily.
If you decide you’re willing to try the “unpasteurized,” “unfiltered,” “aged,” “raw,” or “traditionally fermented” stuff, you still need to understand it’s harsh because it’s primarily acetic acid. There are also many people who will warn you that you should NEVER drink apple cider vinegar straight as it might possibly damage your tooth enamel or harm tissues in your throat, mouth, or esophagus. The suggestion is, if you want to consume it, you should ALWAYS dilute it with water or juice. If you’re interested in organic, unpasteurized, raw apple cider vinegar, most people seem to agree Bragg’s is the best. So, if you can’t find it at your local health food store, here’s a link to their website.
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