If you are paying attention to “trends”, you may have noticed that Apple Cider Vinegar is quickly becoming a “trending” home remedy, even though it has been a staple home remedy for a long time. It’s being “rediscovered”. The use of apple cider vinegar has been lauded for well over two centuries and perhaps longer for its impressive antiseptic and antioxidant abilities.
When the availability of common commodities slows down or ceases completely this one simple inexpensive stash will serve you well in a variety of ways. Apple cider vinegar (ACV) can take the place of a whole closet full of other products and it’s more economical than the products it replaces. It is a powerful natural remedy in several situations and is extremely versatile.
In this article, I have only included uses that meet two criteria:
- There is some scientific evidence for its use, and
- I have had personal success using it as a particular remedy.
There are books written on other uses and I am sure many of them work. I am limited by time and space, so I’ve included only twelve applications. We will touch on a few amazing things that apple cider vinegar can do better and cheaper than the higher priced products and without the side effects of certain over the counter or prescription options.
Apple cider vinegar is the most popular type of vinegar in the natural health community. It is claimed to lead to all sorts of benefits, many of which are supported by science. This includes: reduced bad cholesterol, lower blood sugar levels, indigestion relief, staving off infections and improved symptoms of diabetes.
- 1 Historical Economic Benefits
- 2 Current Bartering Benefits
- 3 Pioneers
- 4 Switchel
- 5 Pioneer’s Lemonade
- 6 What is the “MOTHER”?
- 7 What Creates the Mother?
- 8 Medicinal Uses
- 8.1 1. Use Against Food Poisoning
- 8.2 2. As a Hair Rinse
- 8.3 3. Indigestion
- 8.4 4. Diarrhea
- 8.5 5. Lowers Blood Sugar Levels
- 8.6 6. Constipation
- 8.7 7. Wound Cleaning and Infection Control
- 8.8 8. Mouth Care
- 8.9 9. Strengthen Your Immune System
- 8.10 11. Lowering Cholesterol
- 8.11 12. Energy Boost
- 9 Final Thoughts
Historical Economic Benefits
Because of its usefulness and availability in the 18th and 19th century, apple cider and apple cider vinegar became a common unit of exchange, especially in rural areas where currency was relatively scarce. It’s no wonder then, that many farmers produced more apple cider and apple cider vinegar than they needed for their family’s use alone. Records show they used the extra to pay for local services such as those provided by doctors, teachers, and the clergy.
Current Bartering Benefits
This is why I keep extra, quart size bottles of it on hand for bartering purposes. I also keep a short list of what it can be used for so that the list can become a “convincer” of sorts, that this barter item that I am “perhaps, maybe, sort of willing to consider trading” is a good deal for the other person. When bartering, it’s usually not a good idea to show your need for their barter item with too much enthusiasm.
There are at least four good reasons to store apple cider vinegar in preparation for barter:
- Readily available
- Reasonable cost
- Takes up relatively little storage space
- Wide variety of uses
I think it was in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House books (perhaps “On The Banks of Plum Creek”) that “Lemonade” was served to the field hands. But think about that for a second.
They were poor, living in the Midwest far away from cities. Produce was not shipped in like it is today. Since Laura and many pioneers were in the north and the west, they certainly didn’t have ready access to lemons, and if they miraculously acquired some they were unlikely to share those few with laborers who were helping to get the hay into the barns. So if it wasn’t “lemonade” what was it?
Since pioneers were more likely to have apple trees than lemon trees it is a good probability that the pioneers used apple cider vinegar for their “lemonade”. Both apples and lemons contain good quantities of vitamin C and would stave off scurvy as well, so apples were a good choice and they were plentiful.
We know that during the labor intensive haying and harvesting season, American farmers in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries would drink apple cider vinegar diluted with water as a refreshing and energizing tonic.
At times, the vinegar was diluted with fruit juice and the drink came to be known as “switchel”. Other recipes for switchel contain ginger in fact; I think the ginger water drink was the most universal recipe used to make switchels.
It contained only water, ginger and some form of sweetener, if it was available, usually molasses or honey since sugar was often in short supply. My grandmother made hers with molasses or if they happened to find a bee tree that year, then fresh raw honey was their sweetener of choice.
Recently my daughter noticed an ACV blended drink on the grocery shelf. I’m sure it was more expensive than simply making your own ACV drink by the pitcher for a cool, refreshing summer sipper. I’m happy it is making a comeback. Save the expense and make your own switchel by the pitcherful!
- 1 to 2 Tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar
- 16 to 24 oz. water
- 2 Tablespoons of sugar or honey to taste.
- If you use unsulfured molasses as the sweetener you’re then adding some iron making this drink even more of a healthful tonic.
Mix all ingredients together well, chill and enjoy! Cost: about 20 cents.
Drink all ACV drinks either cold or at room temperature since heating kills the good bacteria and digestive enzymes. I usually add a few slices of raw ginger root in a cup of simmering water ( in a pot) then allow it to cool and only then do I add the ACV and sweetener.
It is perfectly fine to leave out the sweeteners if you would like. I have a friend who prefers it that way. My favorite way is to use pure maple syrup or molasses.
What is the “MOTHER”?
It’s that slimy looking thing in the vinegar that makes one take a second look. Or it can just cause the bottle of the jar to appear to have cloudy sediment in the bottom.
If you are not familiar with it you make be tempted to throw the whole bottle away. Don’t!
What Creates the Mother?
The non-distilled cider is exposed to air and a group of bacteria (acetobacter) induces a chemical change that converts the alcohols into acetic acid. The mother is a wonderful beneficial live microbial bonanza. If you take a closer look at the murky bottom of a bottle of ACV you can sometimes observe strands of what appear to be fibers. These are colonies of healing bacterial organisms.
So if you are looking for ACV for medicinal uses make sure it has a mother!
1. Use Against Food Poisoning
Let me begin by sharing an incident that happened just last month. I was away from home for the day. Food in fridge for husband. I returned and the food I had prepared for him was still there.
- Me: “Honey, what did you have for dinner?”
- Hubby: “I don’t know what it was, there is some left though, here it is.”
- Me, (after lightly sniffing the contents and wondering how on earth it could have gotten past his nose, let alone chewed and swallowed… how was he still standing?) “This is BAD, really bad! This is going to make you so sick.”
- Hubby: “My stomach does feel a little queasy”.
I wondered what to do and remembered that ACV, in a strong dose, is supposed to stop food poisoning in its tracks if caught early enough. Worth a try. I gave him 2 Tablespoons in 1/2 cup of water, drinking it down all at once. Fifteen minutes later we repeated the dose.
Two hours later another dose. That was it! I had thought he was in for a night of misery but he slept like a baby. We repeated a more diluted dose of 1 tablespoon ACV to 8 oz. of water in the morning just for good measure. He never developed much more than the original queasiness. So that is my own experience for the use of ACV as a food poisoning reversal agent. I was pretty impressed.
Now that’s a strong dose and not the strength I’d suggest on a regular basis, but for the purpose of quickly attacking the microbes that usually cause food poisoning I decided that it was worth the small risk. If you’ve ever had food poisoning I think you’d quickly agree to give it a try.
2. As a Hair Rinse
Ratio is about 2 parts water to one part ACV. Mix and pour over freshly shampooed and conditioned hair. It acts as a clarifying agent removing any shampoo residue and makes the hair shiny. The odor of vinegar does not linger. I don’t measure so the ratio is not exact.
An added benefit is that it invigorates the scalp and helps with dandruff if that is a concern. Apple cider vinegar does not alter the pH of the scalp. Keep it out of your eyes!
Real apple cider vinegar with “the mother” acts as a natural prebiotic and helps stimulate the growth of good bacteria in the digestive tract. Raw ACV is brimming with digestive enzymes needed for proper gut function.
The role of digestive enzymes is to break down food-derived fats, carbohydrates, and proteins into smaller substances that our bodies can use. Although the body produces its own enzymes, it may not be enough to completely break down cooked or processed foods. Most people don’t eat enough raw vegetables to promote an increase in digestive enzymes.
We would all be better off hiding from fast foods, modified or heavily processed foods or genetically modified foods as they do not provide the components our gut must have in order to thrive and serve us well.
There is a common misconception that ACV has a lot of probiotics. What it actually has is a load of prebiotics which encourages healthy digestion and causes more growth of healthy gut flora (bacteria). That’s a good thing.
Drinking raw, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar in water can help to naturally improve digestion. Take a tablespoon or a little less of ACV in a big glass of water around 30 minutes before a meal to stimulate digestive juices for better breakdown of your food.
The pectin from the apples acts as a binder to products in us that the body wants to get rid of like toxins, extra cholesterol, and harmful bacteria. When the pectin binds to those unwanted substances it carries them out of our bodies via the bowels. That’s an even better thing!
The take-away: Eat more raw foods and drink 8 oz. of good water mixed with about 1 T of ACV 30 minutes before each meal. Eat smaller, healthier meals.
You may find the bloating and upper abdominal fullness is a thing of the past.
Apple cider vinegar can speed up the recovery from a bout of diarrhea. Slowly sip 1-2 T of ACV in 8 oz. of water.
Diarrhea is not a disease but it’s a symptom that something is wrong and if left untreated dehydration can occur. Make sure to drink water or electrolyte replacement if possible. Eat a banana if possible since it can replenish potassium that is being lost. There are several causes for diarrhea.
If it persists or if it happens frequently, it is important to see a doctor to discover the root cause. During a crisis, dealing with this symptom would most likely be difficult and cause other concerns – use your imagination here! It could slow you down if you were bugging out or found yourself in any stressful emergency situation.
Apple cider vinegar contains an antibiotic property. It helps to cure diarrhea by killing the diarrhea causing organisms in the intestine. As mentioned earlier it has pectin, which thickens the stool and forms a protective layer to soothe the irritated lining of the colon and it soothes intestinal spasms and the irritated stomach which can be the cause of much discomfort.
There are several causes for diarrhea, if it persists or if it happens frequently, it is important to see a doctor to discover the root cause.
Carrying a small bottle of ACV in your go bag and having one at home might be worth consideration. As we look at the histories of war we realize that it is often the various forms of severe digestive upset that can be the real killer. Simply keeping a supply of inexpensive raw apple cider vinegar on hand could literally be a life saver.
5. Lowers Blood Sugar Levels
Finding something that will control blood sugar levels when insulin is not available is a life and death search for many people. There are mixed findings on the efficacy of apple cider vinegar on blood sugar levels. After reading though quite a few studies it is my opinion is that ACV “may” help Type II diabetes but caution must be used.
There are credible small studies available and I have included a few here if you want to read the findings. They look especially promising for pre-diabetics and insulin resistant individuals or for Type II diabetics who are controlled by diet only. It is useful in reducing the number of blood sugar spikes and dips.
CAUTION: Do not take if you have Type I diabetes because ACV has been shown to delay stomach emptying and so may make blood sugar control more difficult for people with Type I diabetes. It may also worsen symptoms of the dangerous condition of gastroparesis in Type I individuals.
I would suggest reading the four studies below if you have further interest. As with any natural remedy use caution and discuss your options with your doctor.
- Ebihara K, Nakajima A: Effect of acetic acid and vinegar on blood glucose and insulin responses to orally administered sucrose and starch. Agric Biol Chem 52:1311–1312, 1988 (copy and paste in browser)
- Vinegar Improves Insulin Sensitivity to a High-Carbohydrate Meal in Subjects With Insulin Resistance or Type 2 Diabetes (copy and paste into your browser)
- Vinegar dressing and cold storage of potatoes lowers postprandial glycaemic and insulinaemic responses in healthy subjects. (copy and paste into your browser)
Healthline Newsletter has this to say: “High blood sugar can also be a problem in people who don’t have diabetes. It is believed to be a major cause of aging and various chronic diseases.”
Pretty much everyone should benefit from keeping their blood sugar levels in the normal range. The most effective (and healthiest) way to do that is to avoid refined carbs and sugar, but apple cider vinegar may also have a powerful effect.
Vinegar has been shown to have numerous benefits for blood sugar and insulin levels:
- Improves insulin sensitivity during a high-carb meal by 19–34% and significantly lowers blood sugarand insulin responses .
- Reduces blood sugar by 34% after eating 50 grams of white bread.
- 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar before bedtime can reduce fasting blood sugar in the morning by 4%.
- Numerous other studies in humans show that vinegar can improve insulin function and lower blood sugar levels after meals.
For these reasons, vinegar can be useful for people with diabetes, pre-diabetes, or those who want to keep their blood sugar levels low for other reasons. Apple cider vinegar has shown promise in improving insulin sensitivity and helping lower blood sugar responses after meals.
If you’re currently taking blood-sugar-lowering medications, check with your doctor before increasing your intake of any type of vinegar.”
WARNINGS: This might be a good place to offer a caution or two:
- Apple cider vinegar should never be ingested without first being diluted either with water or juice.
- Drinking ACV could damage tooth enamel even when diluted. There are two ways to overcome this issue. First, just rinse your mouth with a little plain water after drinking a glass of any ACV concoction. Second, use a straw when drinking so there will be less vinegar contact with your teeth.
- If you have a sensitive stomach and you feel that perhaps you should not try this: don’t. It may give you heartburn or upset that lasts for hours. If you would like to give it a try start by adding a lesser amount for a larger dilution; just a scant teaspoon of ACV to a large 16 oz. glass of water to start.
- A lot of folks who read about the many benefits of ACV often overdo it and think that if a little is good then more is better. This can lead to problems. Follow the recommended amounts or use less if you feel that is best for you. Keep in mind that apple cider vinegar is acidic, even though when ingested it acts like alkalizing agent. If you ever find yourself in a situation where you consumed too much of it, drink plenty of water to dilute the initial acidity.
- Most people should not have a problem with AVC if staying inside the recommended dose. If you have concerns or any doubts you might want to contact your doctor or health practitioner.
- By following the guidelines given here you can enjoy the many established health benefits of apple cider vinegar.
Despite been acidic outside the body, ACV, like lemon water, is recognized as an alkalizing drink, which reduces acidosis in the body. Though acidic, ACV promotes an alkaline environment inside your body due to how ACV is broken down and digested.
It’s quite similar to how lemon juice actually de-acidifies your body. Many viruses and bacteria are unable to live in an alkaline environment, and if your body is too acidic, it takes calcium in an attempt to become alkaline. This leeching of calcium can lead to loss of bone density and osteoporosis.
Many people enjoy better health after switching to a more alkalizing diet. It’s definitely worth a try!
Now back to the rest of our medical uses.
Medication for constipation is the most frequently purchased over the counter medicine in the United States. What does that say about our eating habits? We eat too much and drink too little water? The result can be a slow poisoning of the body.
An occasional bout of constipation is not cause for concern but chronic constipation usually takes years of digestive abuse and often, if not addressed, becomes the root cause of other concerns like rheumatoid arthritis, colitis, fatigue and many other maladies resulting from a buildup of toxins in the body over a period of time. These serious health problems can result in our more self-reliant in this area?
What We Can Do
The first action is to reevaluate lifestyle and behaviors. Decide what changes in behavior are needed. Ask yourself. Do I eat too much, too poorly, too fast? Am I too sedentary, too couch potato? Am I drinking too little? Do I take time for prayer and meditation that helps decrease my stress?
Even one change in any of the areas mentioned could start a chain reaction that could change to trajectory of your health. No matter what the state of your bowel health at this minute, any of the changes mentioned would be a positive move in the right direction.
Occasional constipation can be helped by drinking that same mixture of 1 tablespoon of ACV in 8 ounces of good water two times a day. With each glass relax your body, lower your shoulders and take some deep breaths. Yet again I’ll point out that apple cider vinegar contains pectin, a well known natural fiber, which adds to its effectiveness.
The evidence shows that ACV can be beneficial but don’t overdo it. If you drink too much at one time, it may actually cause diarrhea. If taken undiluted, the apple cider vinegar may pull water out of the body into the bowel, making the stool more watery so as I mentioned earlier, don’t use it undiluted.
If you find yourself without ACV try 8 to 12 ounces of warm/hot water with a little lemon in the morning if you need it. Not only does it assist the body in elimination efforts but it can serve as a detoxifier.
Stay hydrated and eat green veggies and fibrous fruits and nuts and as mentioned above reevaluate and perhaps make some lifestyle adjustments. That’s the best defense against sluggish digestion and poor elimination: eat a good whole food diet as far as possible!
Chronic constipation needs a medical consult, so if this is a problem don’t wait long to see a doctor as there could be serious problem.
Apple cider vinegar contains more potassium than sodium. If you are on a strict potassium restricted diet it is suggested that you see your doctor or dietician before using ACV. Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar, the most popular brand on the market, has 11 mg. potassium per tablespoon – not much, compared to 487 mg potassium in a banana. But the potassium/ sodium ratio might be a concern for someone who is on a potassium sparing restricted diet.
7. Wound Cleaning and Infection Control
Here is where the rubber meets the road, medically speaking, for a prepper. Without outside medical help a small, insignificant abrasion or any break in the skin that goes without proper treatment is potentially dangerous. The same goes for internal infections.
ACV helps to fight infections by the presence of high levels of the C, E, A and B vitamins as well as antioxidants, carotene and bioflavonoids. These all assist the immune system in tackling the infection.
Similar to using raw honey, apple cider vinegar helps in wound healing by preventing or reducing the spread of bacteria. Honey does the same thing but it has the added benefit of being a pain reducer and a “band aid”, by keeping the wound clean. So keeping honey on hand is a good idea, too.
Healthline Newsletter says, “The main substance in vinegar, acetic acid, can kill harmful bacteria or prevent them from multiplying. It has a history of use as a disinfectant and natural preservative.”
D.C. JARVIS: a pioneer
Back in the late 1960’s, I came across a paperback book called Folk Medicine: A Vermont Doctor’s Guide to Good Health by D.C. Jarvis. Although there was not a lot of science behind it in 1958 when it was written, there is much in that book which now has some scientific evidence to back up some of its claims.
Doctor Jarvis’s book was the modern jumpstart for a new look at apple cider vinegar and honey. The book was still in print in 2002 and was on the New York Times bestseller’s list for two years.
8. Mouth Care
Since ACV has antibacterial properties it stands to reason that it would help to eliminate bacteria in the mouth. Make a mixture of 3 parts water to 1 part apple cider vinegar. Vigorously swish it around in your mouth.
Do a little gargle and spit it out. Then, to avoid damage to tooth enamel, rinse mouth well with plain water.
9. Strengthen Your Immune System
Your intestinal flora is a big part of your body’s immune system. It makes sense then that improving the conditions for the growth of friendly bacteria with apple cider vinegar can help improve your overall immunity.
The malic acid in ACV is also a strong antiviral, perhaps one of the reasons people often say they experience fewer colds when they take apple cider vinegar in water daily.
There are two basic kinds of apple cider vinegar available on the market; unfiltered / unpasteurized (raw) and pasteurized. Pasteurized apple cider vinegar has gone through processing to remove any sediment and bacteria in the vinegar.
Unfiltered or unpasteurized apple cider vinegar does not undergo additional filtration or pasteurization. Raw and unfiltered apple cider vinegar is said to benefit your lymphatic system by helping to cleanse lymph nodes and break up mucus in the body. Over time this can relieve sinus congestion, reduce colds and alleviate allergies.
This is the apple cider vinegar we are currently using.
According to some animal studies published in PubMed, it has been shown that apple cider vinegar may lower high blood pressure and there are many reports in online forums of successfully using it for this purpose.
It’s possible that ACV increases nitric oxide production that helps relax blood vessels, or it may just have a generally beneficial effect on your cardiovascular system that, over time, naturally results in a lowering of high blood pressure.
This is the upshot of the study: “To clarify the possibility of a preventive effect of dietary vinegar on blood pressure, long-term administration of vinegar or the acetic acid to SHR was examined. As a result, it was observed that acetic acid itself, the main component of vinegar, significantly reduced both blood pressure (p<0.05) and renin activity (p<0.01) compared to controls given no acetic acid or vinegar, as well as vinegar…”
11. Lowering Cholesterol
Prescription drugs like Lipitor, Lovastatin, Crestor, Zocor etc., have negative side effects and low cholesterol diets can be difficult for many people to follow. The side effects of the prescription medications can include muscle pain, digestive problems, possible liver damage and mental fuzziness up to and including transient global amnesia.
I would recommend reading this book if you are considering taking statin drugs: Statin Drugs Side Effects and the Misguided War on Cholesterol.
It tells the story about how Dr. Duane Graveline, the author, discovered that his experience with transient global amnesia was attributable to the statin drug Lipitor — the only drug he was taking at the time, and how he brought this side effect of statin drugs into the public consciousness with the publication of a letter, which generated hundreds more letters from patients who had similar experiences with statin drugs.
Apple Cider Vinegar, on the other hand, doesn’t have the negative side effects and if taken correctly has shown positive results.
Pectin is in both apples and apple cider vinegar and LDL (the bad cholesterol) attaches itself to the pectin, which is a fiber, and the excess cholesterol is eliminated… without the dangerous side effects! Apple Cider Vinegar can be used to lower cholesterol if it is the result of poor diet or genetic predisposition.
Talk with your doctor about trying this more natural way of controlling your cholesterol. A good approach to test the effectiveness of apple cider vinegar would be to do a baseline lipid profile (a fasting blood test ) then begin your ACV regime for 3 months. Have the lipid profile repeated at the end of that time and if the numbers are improving, keep taking the ACV for another three to four months to determine if your lipid numbers are continuing to improve. This can be a much safer option in addressing blood lipid (fat) concerns.
In May 2005, the Japanese Society of Nutrition and Food Science determined that two-three tablespoons of ACV per day will maximize the cholesterol lowering benefits. You can ingest it by making an ACV dressing to put over a salad, a marinade made with unfiltered ACV works too, and of course making a tonic drink as I’ve mentioned earlier.
You can vary the modes of ingestion to whatever works for you. ACV is also available in pill form. Personally, I don’t feel this is as effective as taking it in the liquid form but it might be a good option when traveling or when carrying the liquid might not be desirable.
Of course, the pill option would be a good storage item and would be good in a go or get home bag. If you decide to take apple cider vinegar in tablet form, be sure to buy one from a reputable manufacturer to ensure the efficacy and integrity of the acetic acid and pectin which are the cholesterol lowering compounds.
12. Energy Boost
Apple cider vinegar contains potassium. This is an essential mineral for your body. It is responsible for giving you an energy jolt. It also helps fine tune muscle control your sense of touch. Without enough potassium, you get muscle twitches and cramps.
In a study with rats, acetic acid boosts glycogen repletion in skeletal muscles. This means the acid helps your muscles turn carbs into energy and this will definitely give you more fuel for your daily fuel, especially during any stressful situation.
This article covers only twelve of the many and varied uses of apple cider vinegar. If there is something that has sparked your interest, give it a try. I would be interested in hearing how you have used ACV and if it was effective for your chosen purpose.
As we move into the summer months, the “switchel” recipe mentioned could be a tasty way of offering a mild but effective health promoting drink to friends and family. If you have any of the health conditions mentioned, now is a good time to test out how it might work for you in case you, at some point, no longer have access to medical help.
Keep in mind that your doctor can monitor these changes to make sure all is well especially with any of the serious medical conditions we’ve talked about.
It is well worth the pennies per dose to have a few bottles of ACV set aside in your preps to help you be better prepared to meet medical needs and perhaps save a life. Have you included raw apple cider vinegar as part of your medical self-reliance plans?
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