This old cure-all folk remedy reclaimed its old fame in the late 1950s, when D. C. Jarvis promoted its purported healing properties in best-seller Folk Medicine: A Vermont Doctor’s Guide to Good Health. The medical community has been abuzz ever since, and often with contending viewpoints.
First, let’s begin with the facts: apple cider vinegar (ACV) is a product of pulverized apples’ fermentation—the process of bacteria and yeast breaking down sugars. From here, the claims of ACV run wild: everything from curing warts and head lice to cancer.
Although it is true that vinegar is a disinfectant, and coupled with baking soda or lemon juice and water can serve as a handy all-purpose cleaner, it may not be the cure-all that many home-remedy and holistic medicine fans are hoping for. For example, vinegar-based cleaners, while effective, are no match for bleach-based cleaners, and plain old hot water seems to work better than vinegar with jelly fish stings. Many would take the trade-off, anyway, to avoid the health and ecological damage of bleach, but the fact remains that the benefits of ACV remain contested.
The traditional medical community has, however, admitted to the following medical benefits of ACV.
· Diabetes. ACV helped lower glucose levels in many studies. In a 2007 study, 11 people with type 2 diabetes took 2 tablespoons of ACV before bed and found their glucose levels lowered by 4-6% by morning.
· High cholesterol. A 2006 study done on rats showed that ACV lowered cholesterol, but effects on humans remain contested.
· Blood pressure and heart health. ACV was found to lower high blood pressure in another study on rats, and those on traditional Mediterranean diet (oil and vinegar dressing on salads five to six times a week) have lower rates of heart disease than those not on said diet. That vinegar was the cure-all remains unsure.
· Cancer. Some studies show that vinegar can kill cancer cells or at least slow their growth, but studies are inconclusive.
· Weight loss. Vinegar has been a staple of those seeking weight loss for millennia. White vinegar helps people feel fuller longer.
Still, the traditional medical community appears ready to admit to nothing quite yet. All tests are in preliminary stages and were usually conducted on animals rather than people. Those studying holistic or more non-traditional medicine purport the following benefits of ACV (and much more).
· Bad breath. Involves a tablespoon of ACV in a cup of water and gargling.
· Acne. ACV, diluted with water or tea, is used as a toner and disinfectant.
· Yeast infection. Soak in a bath with several cups of ACV.
· Constipation and diarrhea. ACV allegedly has a high pectin concentration that protects the irritated lining of the colon. Drink a glass of water with 2 tablespoons of ACV 3 times daily while symptoms persist.
Even non-traditionalists admit to some unfortunate side-effects of ingesting ACV, however. Dental enamel can deteriorate with excessive use of pure ACV (i.e. not diluting it with water or otherwise) since ACV is highly acidic. Long-term use can also lower potassium levels and bone density, a real problem for those with osteoporosis or those who are prone to it.
No matter the use, individuals with serious diseases like diabetes must consult their physicians before using ACV or any home remedy, as ACV may counteract prescribed medicines or do more harm than good in rare cases. After all, ACV is not a cure-all. It does, however, warrant more attention from the medical community as well as everyday health-conscious individuals.
Bio: Maria Rainier is a freelance writer and blog junkie. She is currently a resident blogger at First in Education, where recently she's been researching different social work degrees and blogging about student life. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.