Okay, folks. It’s time for a quiz.
- What common household product has been used for medicinal purposes since the time of Hippocrates, “The Father of Medicine,” in 400 BC?
- What comes in a bottle and soothes sunburns and insect bites?
- What can be poured in your bath water to relieve sore muscles and achy joints?
- What simple ingredient can be mixed with water and a little honey to help reduce and normalize weight?
The title didn’t give anything away, did it? Okay, good. If you answered apple cider vinegar (ACV) to all of the questions above, you’d be spot on. But those are only a few reasons this sour smelling and tasting stuff is so great. Read on if you want to know why this simple, inexpensive concoction—one that’s been around pretty much forever—is touted as a cure-all for so many things.
It was Dr. Royal Lee who discovered that the cause of many of our ailments is malnutrition. A diet high in processed foods lacks all sorts of vitamins and minerals, including potassium—a key nutrient for the overall health of our nerve function, muscle control, and blood pressure. This is where ACV can play an essential role in maintaining your health. Apples are a valuable source of potassium, a fact that obviously doesn’t change when they’re made into ACV. A friendly bacteria, or “mother,” is used to ferment the pressed apples, creating a cloudy appearance. Most commercial vinegars are then pasteurized to make them more visually appealing to potential customers. Ideally, you want to get your hands on a bottle of raw, organic, and unfiltered ACV that still contains the “mother,” such as those made by Bragg’s or Eden Foods. Why? Because ACV with this “mother” bacteria will give you the most dramatic health benefits.
I remember the first time I used ACV. During a visit with my mother-in-law, she told me about her neighbor—a man in his mid-80s who lived completely on his own. Not only was he still in good health, he was also a sharp thinker. When she asked him what his secret was, he answered that he did a couple shots of ACV every single day. As it turned out, I had a bottle of the unfiltered vinegar in my cupboard that I hadn’t really done anything with yet. Living proof always gets me thinking, so the day after we got home from our trip, I decided to drink some. I shook the bottle to get all the goodies swirling around, then poured it into a small glass. Smelling it made me wonder if this decision would end badly, but my health was worth it, right?! I threw it back and drank it all at once, totally unprepared for what happened next. My salivary glands went into overdrive, my eyes watered, and I coughed like crazy for a good solid minute. Whew! I wondered how that 80-plus year-old man drank this stuff on a daily basis. There had to be a less harsh way of including it in my own routine.
Our nutritionist loans books out to her clients, so I checked out Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar: Miracle Health System, by Paul C. Bragg and Patricia Bragg, to get some ideas. It’s a small, unintimidating book that can be read in just an hour or two. What I learned only made me want to dig in and find out even more. I turned to the Internet for information, as well as my own copy of Folk Medicine: A New England Almanac of Natural Health Care from a Noted Vermont Country Doctor, written in 1958 by D.C. Jarvis, MD. It’s filled with old-time suggestions for ACV as a treatment for everything from poison ivy to varicose veins. I now use ACV on a regular basis in several common ways:
- Before meals, I mix 1 tablespoon of ACV with 1 teaspoon of raw honey into a warm cup of water. While I don’t take the time to drink this before every meal, I feel full faster when I do. Plus, a warm cup of anything has a calming effect on me. You can forego the honey if you prefer not to mix sugar with your meals. The vinegar can also be taken in any temperature water or made into a hot tea with the honey.
- For a facial mask, I combine just enough ACV with bentonite clay to make a thick paste. I smear the concoction all over my face and the top of my neck, then let it dry into a crackly mess. Due to the anti-bacterial properties of the ACV, my pores get that much cleaner.
- For a fruit and vegetable cleaner, when I get back from the grocery store I put things like apples and peppers in a sink filled with water and some ACV. Letting them soak for about 30 minutes helps get rid of any remaining residue.
- For a different kind of soak, I’ll often add some ACV, Epsom salt, and a few drops of essential oils to the water right before sliding in for a warm bath, one of my favorite year-round indulgences. Ahhhhhhhhhhhh!
Once I started using ACV, it was easy to give this versatile product the respect it deserves. Whether you’ve been thinking about finally taking your bottle out of the cupboard or buying a new one, go for it. However you decide to use it, you’ll be glad you did.
If you’re already a fan of ACV, what’s your favorite use for it?
Photo from iStock/Wiktory