Vinegar is perhaps one of the most trusted and yet misunderstood remedies of all time. Vinegar has health benefits, it's a neutralizer, a cleaner, and a medicine, among other things. It is used in many different ways by many different people. Although other types of vinegar – such as white vinegar, balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar and rice wine vinegar – are used mainly in cooking, apple cider vinegar is often used for health reasons.
(Apple) cider vinegar is produced when bacteria naturally present in the air converts the small amount of alcohol in apple juice to acetic acid, which gives vinegar its tangy taste. All types of natural vinegar are made this way, but cider vinegar is preferred for medicinal uses because it is less acidic than wine vinegar so is easier to digest.
Unfiltered and unpasteurized apple cider vinegar is sold in health food stores, online, and in some grocery stores.
Cider vinegar is high in potassium, which is needed for the proper functioning of the heart and muscles, and in pectin (a type of fiber). Cider vinegar contains many key vitamins, minerals, amino acids and enzymes, as well as valuable fruit acids. Its unique properties make cider vinegar superior to other kinds of vinegar.
Cider vinegar contains many other nutrients, such as beta-carotene, magnesium, calcium, riboflavin and thiamin; vitamins B6, C and E; and fruit acids and pectin. Of these, beta-carotene, potassium and pectin are especially important for the heart, skin and digestion.
The vitamin C and beta-carotene in cider vinegar destroy free radicals that weaken the immune system and increase the risk of various diseases. The acids in cider vinegar control the proliferation of yeast in the intestine.
Vinegar has over time been found to be useful for many complaints.
A preliminary study by researchers at Arizona State University, published in the journal Diabetes Care, examined people with Type 2 Diabetes. A statistically significant reduction in fasting blood glucose level was found in the group that took two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar at bedtime for 2 days. Amongst those with a fasting glucose level above 130mg/dL prior to the study, vinegar reduced glucose levels by as much as 6%.
The study was small, and of short duration, so more research is needed. However, other studies have found that vinegar can lower the post-meal rise in glucose. The acetic acid in vinegar is thought to slow starch digestion and reduce the glycemic index of starchy foods.
It's an ongoing debate as to whether vinegar can help you lose weight, but the ones who say it will, say to drink a glass of water before each meal in which you've added a tablespoon of vinegar and a tablespoon of honey.
Apple cider vinegar has become popular as a "fat burner" and as a natural appetite suppressant. Although some say that the pectin, enzymes, vitamins or potassium may help with weight loss, there is no reliable research that apple cider vinegar can influence metabolic rate or "burn fat" faster than normal. Again, more research is needed.
Here are some other uses for vinegar, some more proven than others:
Any time you take vinegar internally, be sure to rinse your mouth with plain water. Acid remaining on teeth will, over time, dissolve your teeth, as it does with calcium deposits around the sink.
Undiluted vinegar, in liquid or pill form, may damage the esophagus and other parts of the digestive tract over time.
One case report linked excessive apple cider vinegar consumption to low blood potassium levels (hypokalemia) and low bone mineral density. People with osteoporosis, low potassium levels and those taking potassium-lowering medications should use caution.
Apple cider vinegar or lemon juice taken with meals mildly stimulates hydrochloric acid production.
Soak your feet in a 50/50 mixture of apple cider vinegar and water for ten minutes daily up to ten days or until symptoms disappear. This will relieve the itching and peeling of athlete's foot. Or, soak a cotton ball in vinegar, coat the fungus and let dry. Apple cider vinegar has antifungal properties.
Or, try rubbing it on the affected area with cotton balls. Let dry for 30 minutes. Rinse off. It's very effective.
Another apple cider remedy is similar to the white vinegar one mentioned below: put a cup of vinegar in several quarts of very warm water and soak the foot for 15-20 minutes; repeat twice a day. This remedy will also kill fungus that has gotten under the toenails. Vinegar is effective because it makes the pH slightly more acidic.
White Vinegar: If you don't like the idea of bleach, try adding half a cup of white vinegar to a gallon of water, and soak for 10-15 minutes twice a day. Let your feet air dry. The acidity of the vinegar will kill the fungus.
Fungal infections of both fingernails and toenails can sometimes be resolved by using vinegar and honey. Place one tablespoon of each in a glass of water and drink once per day.
Apple cider vinegar used as a hair rinse after a shampoo has a reputation for balancing scalp pH levels, removing soap residue and controlling dandruff.