Like many natural beauty, household and wellness fixes, apple cider vinegar has a long history and dedicated groupies who stand by its powers to help with everything from rust and flies to weight loss and warts.
And also like other natural remedies, the science on some of those claims is mixed, purely anecdotal or non-existent. A first-time user might want consider all of that before embarking on an apple cider vinegar journey, beyond salad dressings and other food preparations.
“Some studies have shown a possible blood sugar lowering benefit due to a mild effect on gastric emptying, but it’s certainly no diabetes or blood sugar cure,” said Jaclyn London, a registered dietitian at the Good Housekeeping Institute, referring to some common claims. “It’s certainly no weight loss cure.”
But many suggested benefits of ACV, as it is lovingly called by fans, are reasonably safe for experimentation, meaning they might not work as touted but they likely won’t seriously harm you or your property while you try to find out.
“An apple a day keeps the doctor away. That old adage is very true,” said Patricia Bragg, the 80-something grande dame of the Bragg family healthy lifestyle empire, Bragg Live Food Products.
Her father, Paul C. Bragg, began selling organic, raw ACV at his Los Angeles health food store in 1912, growing his own apples and putting out a book, Apple Cider Vinegar — Miracle Health System, which has sold more than 9 million copies around the world.
The popular Bragg version of ACV is unfiltered and unpasteurized. It includes the “mother,” with proteins, enzymes and friendly bacteria. Other brands offer the same type.
Some possibilities for apple cider vinegar:
HAIR & SCALP
Celebrity style guru Ted Gibson is an ACV fan for hair.
“It’s a great detoxifier. Use one tablespoon mixed in your shampoo,” he suggests. “Apply it to the ends of your hair up. No need to apply to the scalp.”
Also try stripping buildup by diluting one to three tablespoons of the vinegar in one cup of water for softer, silkier hair.
As for the scalp, and depending on the cause, ACV could help with chronic dandruff. Apply to the scalp about an hour before shampooing.
GARGLING & DRINKING
Among the myriad uses for ACV is knocking out sore throats. Consider one teaspoon in a half glass of water. Gargle three mouthfuls an hour, then every three hours as the throat feels better.
Bragg also advocates ACV as a mouthwash: one teaspoon of vinegar to one glass of purified water.
Some people just outright drink the vinegar, usually diluted, insisting that it helps their digestive systems. Bragg said from company headquarters just outside Santa Barbara, California, that ACV has been around since 400 B.C., when Hippocrates himself used it to treat patients.
In more recent years, “People first used it for energy,” Bragg said. “They started out in the morning with an apple cider vinegar drink. In the wintertime, you made it hot.”
Gertrude Grossbard, who has passed her 90th birthday, first discovered ACV when she picked up some material about it at a flea market years ago. She swears by it as a drink, mixing up a tablespoon in a glass of warm water each morning with a teaspoon of honey.
“I don’t catch colds. I don’t get muscle pains. It helps with digestion,” said Grossbard from her home in Hoboken, New Jersey.
She even gave it to her dog, Julia, who lived to 18, soaking a slice of challah bread with ACV as a treat.
“She was like a drunk she loved it so much,” Grossbard laughed.
BATH & FACE
Steam up three tablespoons of the vinegar in a quart of distilled or purified water, if you want to do it the Bragg way. Put a towel over your head to trap the steam then pat some on your face with cotton to remove loosened dirt. You can chase that with a chilled ACV toner.
“Apple cider vinegar has fantastic skin cleansing powers,” said April Franzino, beauty director at Good Housekeeping magazine. “I love it as a toner.”
She recommends mixing one tablespoon of ACV with two cups of water for dabbing. Others put the mixture in a spray bottle and chill it that way.
“There are also tons of great toners on the market that include apple cider vinegar,” Franzino said.
She likes the five-ingredient S.W. Basics Toner, available for $22 at Swbasicsofbk.com and elsewhere.
As for the bath, add one cup of ACV to your warm water and see if sore muscles feel soothed.
FLIES, CLEANING & RUST
Many ways to make ACV fruit fly traps are flying around.
The basic idea is to put up to an inch of the vinegar in a glass or bowl, covering the bottom. Add a drop of dish soap to break the surface tension and deny the flies the opportunity to sit atop the vinegar. Cover the top with a plastic bag secured by a rubber band or a piece of plastic wrap, poking a few holes to ensnare the flies.
Some insist a cover isn’t necessary. Place your trap near a fly infestation and let it sit for 24 hours.
For rust, simply submerge rusted items in an ACV bath overnight. Consider longer periods, up to three days, in ACV for stubborn rust.
Other ACV fans swear by it as a general household cleaner with bleach-like powers. Dilute it with an equal part of water and mix it with natural scents if you don’t like the smell.