If you have Facebook friends who are the least bit into ‘natural’ medicine or living, you’d have certainly heard of apple cider vinegar (ACV) in your feed. Chances are, then, that you have also read about how health conscious celebrities, like Madonna, use ACV to stay fresh as a daisy and healthy as a horse.
So, why are famous folks choosing to spend mere pennies on an old-fashioned food that promotes health and healing, when they could be buying million dollar retinol creams for their youthful glow?
Because that bottle of apple cider vinegar in your kitchen cabinet is capable of so much more than adding flavour to a salad. In fact, it may be time to move it to the medicine cabinet.
“Organic ACV is anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal. So it can soothe your sore throat, heal your heartburn and so much more,” Delhi-based dietician Simrann Saini says.
From a scientific viewpoint, the ‘super-ness’ of ACV is believed to come from its high concentration of acetic acid, according to Sapna Kumar, Mumbai-based diet and fitness expert. This improves the body’s absorption of important minerals from the foods we consume, she adds.
But is it safe?
“Verifiable data on its ‘cure-all’ status is still limited, which means its benefits and risks aren’t fully known. So, illnesses should be treated and managed under the supervision of a health professional,” Kumar says.
Touted as a “super fluid”, ACV does so much more than lowering your cholesterol: It also promotes glossy tresses and can remove that persistent wart and polish your furniture. Plus, it’s all natural and inexpensive.
So, read on for 13 surprising home remedies that incorporate your new favourite secret weapon. There’s no scientific evidence to support few of these benefits, but a host of online testimonials attest to ACV’s magical all-rounder powers.
1 Balance your digestive system
Apple cider vinegar may just be the solution to help your digestive issues. To reduce gas, dilute a tablespoon of enzyme-rich apple cider vinegar with a cup of water or tea, and drink before a meal. This will also combat constipation, since the vinegar stimulates digestive juices that help your body breakdown food. You can also take a dose as soon as you feel heartburn symptoms coming on for a quick fix. Some theories suggest that heartburn occurs because of low stomach acid levels; so vinegar brings that level up. If you hate the taste of this mixture, try adding a dollop of honey.
2 Whiten your teeth
Yellow teeth are no match for apple cider vinegar. For stubborn stains, rub apple cider vinegar directly on your teeth then rinse with water. Be careful not to do this too often, as it can break down tooth enamel. For a less abrasive whitening mouthwash, mix one teaspoon of apple cider vinegar with a cup of water, then swish around in your mouth.
3 Remove dandruff
Dandruff is more than just a nuisance – it’s embarrassing! Salon sprays are costly, but with apple cider vinegar, your dandruff destroyer will cost only pennies per spray. Just mix equal parts (about 1/4 cup each) apple cider vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Spray onto your hair after shampoo, let sit for 15 minutes and rinse. Use twice per week, and you should be flake free in no time. One theory suggests that the acidity in the vinegar makes it harder for the fungus that contributes to dandruff to grow on your scalp.
4 Sooth a sore throat
If you suffer from chronic sore throats, but don’t want to overdose on cough syrup, turn to apple cider vinegar. Mix one teaspoon apple cider vinegar, one teaspoon cayenne pepper and three teaspoons clover honey in a glass of warm water for an easy elixir. All three ingredients will work together to help you heal: Apple cider vinegar and honey have anti-bacterial properties, and the capsaicin in hot peppers helps alleviate pain. If that sore throat is due to allergies, apple cider vinegar packs an extra punch, since it also breaks up mucous and sinus congestion.
5 Eliminate foot odour
Make amazing foot deodoriser wipes by pouring one-cup apple cider vinegar over baby wipes. (Thick single-use size paper towels will also work.) Soak the wipes overnight in the fridge, then store in a zip-lock bag to use as needed. The acids in the apple cider vinegar will alter the pH level of your skin, which fights off bacteria that cause smelly feet. In a pinch, these wipes also make great all-natural underarm deodorizers. Don’t be thrown off by the vinegar smell – it will dissipate once it dries.
6 Clear up your skin
Apple cider vinegar can do wonders for your skin. For an all-natural astringent, apply a washcloth soaked in diluted apple cider vinegar to your face. Afterward, the protective acidic layer will make your skin feel smoother, absorb excess oil and reduce fine lines. This works by restoring the proper pH levels to your skin, and beta-carotene helps to counter future skin damage. Plus, a dab of diluted apple cider vinegar left overnight on age spots, pimples or acne scars will help reduce their appearance.
7 Heal a sunburn
Burnt to a crisp after a day in the sun? Add a cupful or two of ACV to your bath to neutraliae the burn. After soaking for 10 minutes, the apple cider vinegar will have helped restore your skin’s pH levels and your skin will feel cool and soothed.
8 Fights diabetes
Several studies have found that vinegar may help to lower glucose levels, making it a beneficial treatment for people with type 2 diabetes. A 2007 study from Arizona State University in the US found that taking two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar along with 30gm of cheese before bed led to a 4-6% decrease in fasting blood sugar levels.
9 Reduces appetite and cravings
A 2005 Swedish study found that people felt fuller and more satisfied for longer after eating bread with white vinegar, as opposed to eating bread on its own. The magic ingredient in all vinegars that can suppress appetite is believed to be acetic acid, which helps to reduce the glycemic index of foods, slowing the rate at which sugars are released into the bloodstream and lessening appetite.
10 Lowers bad cholesterol levels
A 2012 study published in Life Science Journal revealed that consumption of apple cider vinegar over an eight-week period can significantly reduce harmful blood lipids that contribute to high cholesterol and triglyceride levels in people who suffer from hyperlipidemia (too many fats in the blood).
11 Helps shift kilos
While many people swear that apple cider vinegar has helped them lose weight, the scientific evidence for this is a bit light. However, one small Japanese study, published in 2009 in the journal Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry, found that obese people who consumed between 15ml and 30ml of acetic acid – the major component of vinegar – diluted in water daily for 12 weeks experienced significant decreases in body weight, abdominal fat, waist circumference, and triglycerides (a type of fat in the blood).
12 Promotes glossy tresses
While this may not be scientifically supported, many apple cider vinegar fans swear it works wonders for their hair, making it glossy, shiny and dandruff-free. Beauty blogs suggest adding one part vinegar to one part water and using it as you would conditioner – that is, apply it to your hair and let it soak in for between five and 15 minutes before rinsing.
13 Polishes wood, cleans surfaces
Another known use for this wonder-worker is in the conditioning of wood. A concoction of half a cup of any vegetable oil with half a cup of apple cider vinegar is said to create a furniture polish that will clean and treat wooden furniture and surfaces, and remove water stains. ACV also works as an all-purpose cleaner. So, ditch the chemical, commercial sprays for something you don’t mind spraying around your loved ones. This concoction is said to gently clean and disinfect household surfaces: one part vinegar to two parts water, plus a few drops of tea tree oil for its antibacterial qualities.