Every wellness parent has heard of Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) at some point or another. Whether it is a recommendation to help to naturally relieve a fever or congestion while steaming or adding to a humidifier, Apple Cider Vinegar is well known for its healing and health properties. What may come as a surprise (or not), is there’s so much more to know about this incredible natural wellness aid.

What is Apple Cider Vinegar?

The quick answer is that it’s basically fermented apple juice. The long answer is a bit more interesting. Bacteria and yeast are added to the liquid squeezed from crushed apples to start the alcoholic fermentation process. Then the sugars are turned into alcohol. In a second fermentation process, the alcohol is converted into vinegar by acetic acid-forming bacteria (acetobacter) and this acid is what gives it most of its amazing power.

What is Acetic Acid?

Acetic acid is a carboxylic acid with antibacterial and antifungal properties found in Apple Cider Vinegar. As the fermentation process goes along, this acid slowly grows to become a non-toxic slime that some people call the “mother”.

The “mother” is the dark, cloudy substance in Apple Cider Vinegar that forms from naturally occurring pectin and apple residues. It typically appears as molecules of protein connected in strand-like chains or appears to be web-like. Its presence confirms that the best part of the apple has not been destroyed during the fermentation process and that your Apple Cider Vinegar is of the highest quality.

Vinegars containing the “mother” are rich with enzymes and minerals that other vinegars may not contain due to overheating, over-processing or filtration. Some manufacturers intentionally remove the “mother” using a filtration process but they’ve basically removed the best of the beneficial material from the Apple Cider Vinegar. The “mother” is the most nutritious part of the vinegar and often settles at the bottom of the bottle. When this happens, it’s suggested that the bottle be shaken lightly to distribute the “mother” before pouring.

How is Acetic Acid Beneficial?

Studies show acetic acid may have health benefits that range from controlling blood pressure to treating ear infections. Studies in Japan suggest that acetic acid may help control blood pressure and fat accumulation while investigations in Europe looked at the influence of acetic acid on blood glucose and other biological responses.

In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration has approved many medications that contain acetic acid including treatments for the following: infections of the outer ear canal, bacterial vaginitis, head lice and ear wax impaction.

However, as with most natural health remedies, it’s best when used in its natural form as part of raw-unfiltered organic Apple Cider Vinegar.

Apple Cider Vinegar Benefits

Despite the fact that scientists can’t determine how it is so- Apple Cider Vinegar is one of nature’s super foods with magic properties that can assist the body in numerous ways. Some of the more common homeopathic uses include the relief of colds or fevers.

For instance, boiling one part water and one part Apple Cider Vinegar and steaming relieves the sinus pressure typical of a common cold. Additionally, understanding that a fever is the body’s attempt at neutralizing a foreign invader, soaking a pair of cotton socks in Apple Cider Vinegar, wringing them out then putting them on the feet of a child until they are dry may help to naturally relieve a high temperature.

Apple Cider Vinegar has been used in homeopathic remedies for thousands of years but what may not be common knowledge is just how many benefits are found in ingesting diluted Apple Cider Vinegar on a daily basis.

Weight Control

Researchers in Japan reported in 2009 that there is evidence to suggest that Apple Cider Vinegar may help to prevent the accumulation of body fat and thus can control or limit weight gain.

Their research suggests that acetic acid, the main component of Apple Cider Vinegar, helped mice fed a high-fat diet develop significantly less body fat than other mice. This study also led credence to the belief that acetic acid fights fat by turning on the genes for fatty acid oxidation enzymes. These are the genes that produce the proteins that are involved in breaking down fats, thus suppressing body fat accumulation in the body.

Diabetes Assistance

In the past 10 years, the effect of Apple Cider Vinegar on blood glucose levels has been extensively studied and the results are positive. Several studies have shown that acetic acid when ingested via Apple Cider Vinegar prior to a meal may prevent the complete digestion of complex carbohydrates, thus limiting the amount of sugars released into the blood and lowering overall blood glucose levels.

Similar studies have also proven that vinegar improves insulin sensitivity to a high-carbohydrate meal in those with insulin resistance or type-2 diabetes. This means that when ingesting a mixture of 1 to 2 teaspoons of Apple Cider Vinegar in 8 ounces of water with an organic sweetener such as honey or Stevia (to taste) prior to consuming a meal, some of the sugar won’t get released into the blood stream and much of the sugar that does will be used properly by the body.

An additional study in 2007, showed that ingesting diluted Apple Cider Vinegar before bed moderated waking glucose levels in adults with well-controlled type-2 diabetes.

Digestion and Excretion

Not all, but many, digestion and elimination issues have their root cause in the intestines and many of these can be linked to a candida overgrowth. This typically occurs when a person has a poor diet that is high in refined sugar and carbohydrates; candida may then take over the gut flora, especially if it’s already been weakened by antibiotic use or birth control. Since Apple Cider Vinegar is acidic and candida is a fungus, Apple Cider Vinegar may be effective in helping to restore the natural balance in gut flora by creating an acid/alkaline balance that may also promote healthy digestion.

While studies have not been done that specifically reflect a positive effect on candida overgrowth, a study in 2005 showed that acetic acid could be beneficial as a complementary agent in the treatment of ulcerative colitis which is a chronic recurring inflammatory bowel disease.

Summarizing Apple Cider Vinegar as a Home Remedy

Apple Cider Vinegar is a rich source of vitamins, minerals, enzymes and amino acids. It is a super food that, when ingested, may be beneficial for the following: obesity, fatigue, diabetes, headache, cataracts, sore throat, heart weakness, blood pressure abnormality, high cholesterol levels, asthma, cough, common cold, nasal and/or sinus congestion, digestive weakness, indigestion, hiccups, food poisoning, peptic ulcers, gastrointestinal spasms, constipation, diarrhea, gall stones, bladder infections, kidney stones, vaginal yeast infection, and arthritis.

Externally it may be beneficial for the following: athlete’s foot, burns, corns, calluses, cuts or abrasions, dandruff, foot odor, hair loss, insect bites and stings, muscle soreness, poison ivy or poison oak rash, shingles, sunburn, “swimmer’s ear”, and varicose veins.

As always, please speak with your Family Wellness Chiropractor or other healthcare professional before using a home remedy for the first time.