Monday, March 8, 2010

Your Pantry Cure-All: Apple Cider Vinegar

It’s great for salads, as a disinfectant, and as a window cleaner. But did you know that it is also great for your health?

Apple cider vinegar (“ACV”) - organic, raw, and with the mother. Its many health benefits and touted healing properties are astounding. Consider the following health problems reportedly helped or cured by ACV:

Aches and pains 
Acne
Allergies (environmental, food and pet)
Arthritis
Candida
Chronic fatigue
Colds/Flu
Dandruff
Diabetes
Gout
Hair care
Headache
High cholesterol
Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)
Insect bites
Sinus infections
Sore throats
SunburnsWeight loss

Earth Clinic’s user reviews of ACV for high blood pressure are astounding (just normal people talking about their experiences with ACV). Read them here: http://www.earthclinic.com/CURES/blood_pressure.html#ACV_37967</p>

History

In 400 BCE, the “Father of Medicine,” Hippocrates, is said to have prescribed ACV as a health tonic, mixing it with honey and touting its healing properties. There are reports of American soldiers using ACV to aid indigestion, scurvy, and pneumonia.

The use of ACV really became popular in 1958, when D.C. Jarvis, M.D. wrote Folk Medicine: A Vermont Doctor’s Guide to Good Health. Jarvis spoke of it being a miraculous food, curing most health ailments, and that it could destroy harmful bacteria in the digestive track. He recommended making “honegar,” a mixture of ACV and honey, explaining that this enhanced the healing properties of the vinegar.

How It All Works

The apple cider vinegar we are talking about is not regular table vinegar. It is vinegar made from the fermentation of raw apples. It is important that the “mother” is in the ACV, which is a darker, cloudy sediment that hangs out on the bottom of the bottle. I like Bragg’s Organic Raw Apple Cider Vinegar, which is found at most health food stores; but any other similar ACV would suffice.
There have been several studies that suggest that ACV helps lower glucose levels. The mechanics are not known for sure, but it is thought that the acetic acid may slow starch digestion and reduce the glycemic index of starchy foods (http://altmedicine.about.com/od/applecidervinegardiet). A similar mechanism may help in weight loss, by lowering the glycemix index of carbohydrates eaten at a meal.
AVC is thought to help with dandruff by restoring “ the pH balance of the scalp and discourage the overgrowth of malassezia furfur, the yeast-like fungus thought to trigger dandruff.” (http://altmedicine.about.com/od/applecidervinegardiet)
Acetic acid, one of the main ingredients in ACV, was found to significantly lower total cholesterol and triglyceride levels, according to a 2006 study.
ACV for high blood pressure is widely-used. It is suggested that ACV “may increase levels of nitric oxide, a compound in the body that relaxes blood vessels, or it might inhibit an enzyme called angiotensin-converting enzyme from producing angiotensin II, a hormone that causes blood vessels to constrict or narrow.” (http://altmedicine.about.com/od/applecidervinegardiet)
Many sources claim that ACV restores alkaline acid balance in the body, which can relieve problems seen in diets high in acid-producing foods. It is also said that it can help the body break down fats, as well as remove toxins from the body.
The ingredients (courtesy of www.globalhealingcenter.com) do indeed shed light on its healing properties:
Potassium – helps to prevent brittle teeth, hair loss and runny noses.
Pectin – helps to regulate blood pressure and reduce bad cholesterol.
Malic Acid – gives ACV the properties of being anti-viral, anti-bacterial & anti-fungal.
Calcium – helps create strong bones and teeth.
Ash – gives ACV its alkaline property which aids your body in maintaining proper pH levels for a healthy alkaline state.
Acetic Acid – It appears that this acid slows the digestion of starch which can help to lower the rise in glucose that commonly occurs after meals.
How to Use
Depending on the ailment, different “doses” of AVC is used. For hypertension, for example, one would mix 2 tablespoons ACV in water (the water is only to dilute for taste reasons, so add as much as you need, or none at all) and drink. Do this 3 times a day until blood pressure has been stabilized for a few weeks, and then drink a maintenance dose of 1-2 tablespoons ACV 1-2 times per day. Although Earth Clinic says that “We now think that less vinegar, more water is an optimal way of taking apple cider vinegar daily unless you are treating an acute condition like acid reflux, cough, bronchitis, or sore throat (in which case the stronger concoction of 2 TBS ACV to 8 OZ of water 3x a day recipe is suggested)."
Word of Caution

Because AVC is highly acidic, it can erode the enamel on your teeth. To help prevent this, swill a little water around your mouth after your dose, and avoid brushing your teeth up to 30 minutes after drinking ACV.
I am not a doctor, and am not giving any medical advice. Make sure to ask your health practitioner before taking any supplements, as there may be drug/herb/supplement interactions you are unaware of, as well as unwanted side effects.