In the years before medicine when fermentation began apple cider vinegar came about. Hippocrates (460 -377 BC) prescribed it for curing persistent coughs. Makes a bit of sense since it would certainly cut the phlem. It’s been used to relieve sunburn and insect bite pain, shine metals, kill annoying plants, clean the coffee pot and in our salad dressings. Most of it’s original medicinal uses have been disproved but a few have medical backing.
One of the original uses of vinegar was sterilization and that remains true though we now have far better products. Yet in a pinch like alcohol – vinegar will certainly take out a few germs. During the era of the black plague vinegar was used as the base with herbs added to it for disinfection as well as a remedy to fight the plague. Though it is doubtful that the herbs contributed much – though they were all disinfecting and antimicrobial – the fact that vinegar was used to clean potentially did help in stopping the spread of the disease.
Prior to hypoglycemic agents, diabetics used vinegar teas to control their symptoms. Small amounts of vinegar (approximately 25 g of domestic vinegar) added to food, or taken along with a meal, have been shown by a number of medical trials to reduce the glycemic index of carbohydrate food for people with and without diabetes. This also has been expressed as lower glycemic index ratings in the region of 30%.
From our friends at WebMD –
But there are some medical uses of vinegar that do have promise, at least according to a few studies. Here’s a rundown of some more recent ones.
- Diabetes. The effect of vinegar on blood sugar levels is perhaps the best-researched and the most promising of apple cider vinegar’s possible health benefits. Several studies have found that vinegar may help lower glucose levels. For instance, one 2007 study of 11 people with type 2 diabetes found that taking two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar before bed lowered glucose levels in the morning by 4%-6%.
- High cholesterol . A 2006 study showed evidence that vinegar could lower cholesterol. However, the study was done in rats, so it’s too early to know how it might work in people.
- Blood pressure and heart health. Another study in rats found that vinegar could lower high blood pressure. A large observational study also found that people who ate oil and vinegar dressing on salads five to six times a week had lower rates of heart disease than people who didn’t. However, it’s far from clear that the vinegar was the reason.
- Cancer . A few laboratory studies have found that vinegar may be able to kill cancer cells or slow their growth. Observational studies of people have been confusing. One found that eating vinegar was associated with a decreased risk of esophageal cancer. Another associated it with an increased risk of bladder cancer.
- Weight Loss . For thousands of years, vinegar has been used for weight loss. White vinegar (and perhaps other types) might help people feel full. A 2005 study of 12 people found that those who ate a piece of bread along with small amounts of white vinegar felt fuller and more satisfied than those who just ate the bread.
While the results of these studies are promising, they are all preliminary. Many were done on animals or on cells in a lab. The human studies have been small. Before we will truly know whether vinegar has any health benefits, much larger studies are needed.
If you’re thinking about trying apple cider vinegar, talk to your doctor first. It’s always worth getting an expert’s advice. Your doctor can also make sure that the apple cider vinegar won’t affect other health conditions or the effectiveness of the medicines you take. Trying to control a serious medical condition on your own with an unproven treatment is both unwise and dangerous.
Over all if you are looking for some nice alternatives from cleaning to health apple cider vinegar deserves a look. The doctors weren’t wrong about “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Why would we consider it’s fermented form to be any less valuable?
A bit of vinegar and oil dressing added to my salad seems like a small change for the great benefits that potentially await.