Used for centuries as an elixir by proponents of alternative medicine, Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) is now enjoying a recent boost in popularity as a multipurpose potion. Having made it way from the beauty blogosphere to a kitchen pantry staple, ACV’s health and beauty benefits have made it a go-to tonic for a growing number of people seeking natural, homemade remedies.
Before we examine some of the most common applications lets take a closer look at what makes this liquid gold.
What’s in it?
ACV is made by fermenting pressed apple juice until the natural sugar turns into vinegar. It contains many nutrients which include minerals such as phosphorus, magnesium, calcium and iron, and vitamins including vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin A, and vitamin B6. When choosing to purchase ACV, pick organic, unpasteurized and unfiltered ACV, which contains the “mother of vinegar” – the floating particles you see in the bottle. These are the strands of proteins, enzymes and friendly bacteria that give the product a murky, congealed, and cobweb-like appearance.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even make your own ACV at home. There are tons of recipes with step-by-step instructions available online.
ACV as Health Drink
Many believe that the fermented quality of ACV is responsible for its health benefits. While research on the matter is limited, there is evidence to suggest that it may stimulate genes that breakdown fat. Several studies indicate it can help regulate blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity.
Vinegar, is made through the process of fermenting, which aids in digestion and encourages the growth of healthy bacteria in our gut. The live bacteria or probiotics found in fermented foods restore the balance in our digestive system are rich with enzymes and help our bodies to function more smoothly. Proponents of ACV believe it helps restore alkalinity in the body, which can boost metabolism, strengthen immunity and slow aging.
If you’re going to try it for the first time it would be helpful to note that the taste can be quite strong and tough to swallow. You should dilute with water and can enhance with honey of fresh fruit juice.
One note of caution: over-indulging may damage your tooth enamel or irritate your esophagus due to ACV’s low pH (high acidity), so be sure to dilute and consume in small amounts. You may also want to consult with your physician before making any drastic changes to your diet.
ACV’s Skin Care Benefits
Where do we even begin? It wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to say that ACV seems to have been made by nature to soothe skin.
Have a nasty bug bite? Dampen a piece of cotton with the it and dab on the affected area for relief. The acids in the vinegar will stop the itch while its anti-inflammatories ease swelling and its pH-balancing properties speed healing.
Sun Burn? Just combine 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar and four cups water. Use washcloth with the solution, and apply to sunburned skin. This will help balance the skin’s pH levels, promote healing, and prevent blistering.
What about Razor Bumps? Simply swipe ACV over problem area. The anti-inflammatory properties of apple cider vinegar will calm the irritated skin while its acetic acid softens skin to help ingrown hairs grow out more easily.
But the most common skin application for ACV today is as a toner. It kills bacteria, removes excess dirt, oil and makeup and dissolves dead skin cells. Apple cider vinegar’s natural alpha-hydroxy acids and acetic acid also helps to stimulate circulation and minimize the appearance of pores. Its anti-bacterial and an antiseptic and helps to re-balance your skin’s pH level after it’s been disrupted from washing it.
ACV and Hair
One of the most natural hair cleansers for all hair types is ACV. Unlike most shampoos it will soften your hair while restoring its pH level. It is also an excellent method for removing excess oil and product buildup without stripping hair of its natural oils. With its antibacterial and antifungal properties, ACV can also be used to treat itchy, dry scalp with some users reporting success in it treating dandruff. It can also aid in hair growth as it promotes better circulation to the hair follicles, which strengthens the hair roots and promotes a healthy hair growth.