by MONICA MARCU
I could have titled this Apple Cider Vinegar between legend and research. There are no other beverages with so many uses around the house, for health maintenance and inspiring so much scientific interest like the vinegar. Indeed, vinegar is used for cooking, cleaning, disinfecting, garden care, skin and dental hygiene, and many others. But today I want to discuss more about one of my favorite natural remedies the (organic) unfiltered apple cider vinegar (ACV), always present in my kitchen and pharmacy cabinet.
A good vinegar – I prefer Braggs – is made through a slow fermentation process, which leaves at the end a wide variety of bioactive components like gallic acid, catechin, epicatechin, some with strong antioxidant properties. And, of course, the acetic acid that gives the acidity. Mother of vinegar, a cobweb-like substance that increases the turbidity of the high quality vinegars, is found in unprocessed, unfiltered (murky) types, and these are the ones you should use. I consider these to be alive since they are teeming with active enzymes, proteins, and good bacteria. I use this vinegar internally and externally in every possible opportunity and combination. It goes in salads and soups (after cooking), I add it in juices or as a final rinse for hair washing.
For increased energy and maintaining the normal acidic-basic balance in the body, I make a beverage from 2 tbsp. (approx. 30 ml) of ACV mixed well with 1 tbsp. of raw honey; then add water to fill a cup. Enjoy any time but best in the morning! This refreshing drink is also beneficial after strenuous exercise or stress – when lactic acid builds up in the muscle, causing fatigue. The apple cider vinegar acts as an antidote through the content of potassium and enzymes, while honey has its own many benefits to be discussed at length another time.
For weight loss or maintaining a normal weight, an easy method is to include ACV daily in the diet. Several clinical studies have shown that vinegar can increase satiety, so help us eat less. I noticed that ACV cuts my appetite or increases the feeling of fullness, and even helps me reduce the amounts of sweets I indulge in.., including chocolate. For instance, a study with obese individuals, over 3 months, showed that daily vinegar intake helped to reduced belly fat, waist circumference and lower blood fats, as well as weight loss: for 15mL – lost 1.2 kilograms, while for 30mL- lost 1.7 kilograms. While this might not seem much, it is even more helpful when associated with other methods, and persistence in time.
A clearly demonstrated benefit of ACV is in patients with type 2 diabetes, characterized by elevated blood sugar, either due to insulin resistance or an inability of the pancreas to produce insulin. Beside the population with developed diabetes type 2, a large proportion of people are pre-diabetic, so elevated blood sugar can be a larger problem, and it is believed to be a major cause for various chronic diseases. A careful diet, with reduced refined carbohydrates is useful, but vinegar has shown numerous benefits for pancreas function. Clinical studies in animals and humans showed that vinegar can increase insulin sensitivity (the tissues respond better to insulin, the main hormone regulating sugar levels in blood and tissues) and significantly lower blood sugar during meals.
Use ACV for intestinal problems, such as diarrhea. The vinegar can help thanks to its antibiotic properties, mainly due to acetic acid. ACV also contains pectin, which soothes the intestinal spasms. For indigestion sip a mixture of 1 teaspoon of honey and 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar added to a glass of warm water.
For sore throats and infections ACV can be used externally. At the first symptoms, when you feel the prickle, use vinegar in water to gargle – mix 1/4 cup ACV with 1/4 cup warm water and gargle every hour, if possible. Most bacteria and viruses do not like the acidic environment vinegar creates.
Externally, for skin and hair (in human and pets!) ACV works miracles. The vinegar is a natural toner that can help skin and hair look healthier. Its antibacterial properties keep acne under control, and the lactic acid found in ACV soften, exfoliate, and balance the pH (acidic to basic balance) of the skin. Since soaps and shampoos are mostly basic or too basic, the acidity of ACV helps to bring back the slightly acidic pH of a normal, healthy skin. This pH is vitally important to confer protection against environmental factors.
Use ¼ cup ACV in 1-2 l of warm water to rinse well as a final step when washing your hair. The hair will look shiny and silky. Try this on your dogs hair for similar results.
ACV gets rid of dandruff if used frequently. Mix 1/4 cup ACV with 1/4 cup water and spritz on your scalp. Wrap your head in a towel, wait for 15 minutes to an hour, then wash your hair, repeat twice a week for results.
Dr. Monica Marcu is a pharmacologist, writer and artist, but above all, a student of nature. She has written numerous scientific and lay articles on modern and complementary medicine. She lives close to McBride, where she enjoys growing trees and German Shepherds, when not roaming the mountains.