When I was a kid, my mother used vinegar for everything. Cuts, house cleaning and in literally everything I ate. After I was on my own I vowed not to eat anything with vinegar again even though mom always said it was good for the digestion. Well, here I am now, advocating vinegar and proving the fact that our parents are not the out of touch, ignorant, brain-dead people that we all once thought. I can feel my folks looking down on me laughing and I hope my son reads this. But I digress. Today, I speak of vinegar.
Ok, science first. This one is easy. Vinegar is the fermentation of ethanol. How many times have you heard, “darn, the wine has turned to vinegar”? See, it wasn’t bad at all!!
There are two main types of vinegar. The first is pasteurized and comes in either white or brown vinegar. You know it’s pasteurized because you can see through it. I use white vinegar for household cleaning. Don’t use it to drink as all the good nutrients have been removed. The second is unpasteurized apple cider or brown rice vinegar. Easy to tell as it is cloudy and you can’t see through it. This is what I, and mom, used for cooking and as you are about to see for medicinal purposes.
First, white vinegar. I use it for all kind of cleaning needs. You can clean window blinds, computer screens and piano keys. Mold and mildew stains are removed by vinegar as well as many carpet stains, even old ones. If your garbage disposal is starting to smell, run some vinegar through it (lemon rinds do well too). I routinely run it through my coffee pot. (Yes folks, I drink coffee). My grandparents used to use dishes of vinegar placed around the family room to remove the smoky odor when we used the fireplace. The usual recipe in all these uses is half water and half vinegar.
Now comes my favorite. Namely apple cider vinegar or the harder to find, brown rice vinegar. It contains potassium, phosphorous, copper, iron magnesium and calcium. I use 1 tablespoon in water twice a day to relieve and prevent heartburn. Likewise you can put those 2 tablespoons in a half gallon of water and drink two of them throughout the day. It is a little easier to take over the day than all at one time. That half gallon jug I drag around at the clinic has 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in it. Any way you try it, the vinegar is an acid which will help streamline digestion and reduce heartburn.
Another recipe is a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar and a teaspoon of honey. Taking this three times a day has proven to help the discomfort of arthritis. There have also been studies showing that this same mixture can dissolve uric acid stones and has been used successfully with gout as well.
Sore throats are helped by mixing a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in about 8 ounces of warm water and gargle. Swallow it after you gargle too! Likewise equal amounts of vinegar and honey has cut down throat mucous and some have said it helps with breathing although this is purely by word of mouth.
A great recipe of mine is to take 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in a cup of honey. Mix it up and put it in an air tight container. If you have trouble getting to sleep, try a teaspoon of this with a bit of magnesium. It works (at least for me) and lasts about a week to 10 days if kept in the refrigerator.
As an antiseptic it is great. Again if you are going to use vinegar in or on any part of the body, use apple cider vinegar (or brown rice vinegar if you can find it). Wash all cuts and scrapes with vinegar. It may burn but it works. If you work with your hands and don’t wear gloves, keep a spray bottle of vinegar handy. Don’t cut it with water. If you get a scrape, spray it with the vinegar and you can go right on working without having to rush to wash it and put antiseptic cream on it. I know I know, how barbaric.
Two cups of vinegar in a warm tub and achy muscles will soon disappear. The potassium in the vinegar does the trick and you can help it even more with an extra 2 cups of Epsom salts in the tub as well. Don’t fall asleep. Well, ok, go ahead.
Toenail fungus as well as fingernail fungus is easily treated with soaking the affected digit in half water and half vinegar as often as you think about it. It works well on athlete’s foot too.
My last tidbit is for insect bites. It is great to apply directly to reduce the itch and prevent infection. Add to this a bit of meat tenderizer made into a paste with either water or spit (oh gross). Apply the tenderizer paste directly to the bite and put a Band-Aid or cover over it so it doesn’t fall off. Take it off in about 20-30 minutes and the bite will be gone or drastically reduced. My son is slightly allergic and if I do this to a bite, it doesn’t even swell, turn red or even itch. I keep a bottle of meat tenderizer in the car.
Now a word of warning. Vinegar is an acid. Acetic acid to be precise. If you have kidney issues be very careful as apple cider vinegar has high potassium content. So as always check with your family MD or DO or you can see us and we can help answer these as well as other issues of preventive health you may have. After all the smart health care consumer is informed and aware.
Clifford Sonnie, M.D. is the Medical Director of the Balance of Life Clinic.