No doubt you have heard all the claims about the powers of vinegar; it benefits health, it’s a wonder cleaning product and so on. If you have, you will most likely have heard about apple cider vinegar. You have probably seen it mentioned in detox and weight loss plans, but its benefits and uses are far more wide-ranging than this. It turns out that this humble product has been used to treat health conditions for thousands of years, and its growing in popularity.
- 1 What is apple cider vinegar?
- 2 What is it usually used for?
- 3 Healthy hair
- 4 Balancing the skin
- 5 Whitening teeth
- 6 Soothing sunburn
- 7 A weight loss aid
- 8 To help you detox
- 9 To rid the body of yeast infections
- 10 To reduce heartburn
- 11 To clean and freshen your home
- 12 What is an apple cider vinegar rinse?
- 13 It will cleanse and condition, naturally
- 14 It will help the hair retain moisture
- 15 It will help detangle the hair
- 16 It will treat hair loss
- 17 It will remove products build-up
- 18 It will balance the hair’s PH
- 19 It helps reduce frizz
- 20 It will treat a dry, irritated scalp
- 21 It will treat and prevent split ends
- 22 How can you use apple cider vinegar on your hair?
- 23 Vinegar hair rinse
- 24 Herbal hair rinse
- 25 Essential oil vinegar hair rinse
- 26 Dandruff and itchy scalp relief rinse
- 27 Hair Loss treatment rinse
- 28 Head lice rinse
- 29 Is apple cider vinegar safe?
- 30 Final thoughts
What is apple cider vinegar?
Vinegar is reputed to have been discovered by accident in 5000 BC, when grape juice was left untouched and turned into wine, then vinegar. It was originally used to preserve foods, then it was found that it had so many more benefits than that.
Hippocrates used vinegar to treat wounds, while doctors in the 18th century used it to treat a range of conditions from diabetes to stomach problems.
Vinegar is made when a foodstuff ferments. Sugars in the food are broken down by yeast and bacteria, and turned into alcohol. Then if the alcohol is left, it turns to vinegar. Vinegar can be made from fermented fruits, vegetables, and grains, but apple cider vinegar comes from fermented apples.
The slow process through which the vinegar is made means that it is rich in compounds such as catechin and acetic acid, which give the vinegar antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, among others. As well as these compounds, apple cider vinegar is rich in vitamins, mineral salts, and amino acids. It also contains pectin, a type of fibre which is found in apples, which promotes good digestive health. Apple cider vinegar essentially gives you all the benefits of eating apples in a more concentrated form.
What is it usually used for?
Apple cider is effective for so many things. It’s great for use on your skin, hair and around the house. Who thought that it was just a salad dressing?
Apple cider vinegar can be used to rinse your hair after you shampoo. For shiny, healthy hair, mix ½ tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with a cup of water and rinse your hair. Repeat this a few times per week. The antifungal properties of the vinegar can also prevent dandruff and the buildup of oil in the hair and on the scalp.
Balancing the skin
Apple cider vinegar can fade age spots and acne scars. The nutrients and antiseptic properties balance the skin so that you have less breakouts and inflammation. Dilute some vinegar with some water and use the mixture as a toner. Apply it to your face with cotton wool. You can also put a little vinegar on any scars or age spots and leave it on overnight. The antiviral and antifungal properties mean that the vinegar is also effective for use on warts. Soak some cotton wool in the vinegar and fix it to the wart with an Elastoplast overnight. After a few days, the wart should drop off.
The antimicrobial potency of the vinegar means that it is excellent at removing stains from teeth and getting rid of bad breath. You can either rub the vinegar directly onto the teeth, then rinse with water, or mix 2 parts vinegar with one part baking soda to make a whitening toothpaste. You can use it as a gargle for bad breath as well, though be cautious, as the vinegar is acidic and long term use could damage tooth enamel.
If you have overindulged in the sun, add a cup of the vinegar to your bath and soak in it for 10 minutes.
A weight loss aid
A 2009 study found that people who consumed the vinegar daily for 12 weeks lost weight, abdominal fat and managed to reduce their cholesterol. For weight loss, add 2 teaspoons of the vinegar to a glass of water and sip it through the day. The compound acetic acid is thought to be responsible for the weight loss effects.
To help you detox
The vinegar helps to balance the body’s PH and it stimulates the circulation and supports the liver. The vinegar helps the liver get rid of toxins and deal with the processing of chemicals which enter the body from food and medications. If the liver is overloaded, you will feel fatigued, ill and your skin will look sallow and dull. The body is generally very efficient at processing toxins, but it can get overwhelmed and need a little help at times.
To rid the body of yeast infections
The natural vinegar is rich in enzymes which can combat yeast infections. Candida is a fungus that causes infection when it overgrows in the gut. This can happen when the balance of good and bad bacteria in the gut is affected, by antibiotics for example. Apple cider vinegar is a natural prebiotic too so it both fights the fungal infection and restores natural balance in the gut.
To reduce heartburn
It may seem strange to treat a stomach acid problem with an acidic product, though research suggests that the vinegar can help. Rather than heartburn being a problem of having too much acid in the stomach, it may be happening because you have too little. The valve which keeps the stomach acid in the stomach where it belongs is stimulated to work when stomach acid touches it. So, if you don’t have enough, the valve can get a little ‘lazy’ and allow stomach acid to flow up into the oesophagus, which is what causes the discomfort. Put a teaspoon of the vinegar in a glass of water and sip it slowly when you have your meals to stop heartburn in its tracks.
To clean and freshen your home
Apple cider vinegar is a natural antibacterial and antiseptic agent, so it is ideal for use as a natural cleaning product for your home. Natural products mean less chemicals being used in your home, which can only be a good thing. The fresh scent can also get rid of odours. You can also pour it into your toilet and leave it overnight as a disinfectant, and you can dilute it in water to make a solution to clean your kitchen worktops, mirrors, and windows.
What is an apple cider vinegar rinse?
Making a rinse from apple cider vinegar is great for your hair. The natural acidity of the vinegar is like that of the hair and it’s an effective conditioner, cleanser and antifungal. The vinegar is cheap and it will leave hair soft, smooth, and shiny. Not convinced? here are some of the benefits that using a rinse will have on your hair.
It will cleanse and condition, naturally
Apple cider vinegar can condition and cleanse the hair in the same way that baking soda can, by removing impurities but allowing the hair to retain moisture.
It will help the hair retain moisture
The vinegar can seal the hair cuticle, which effectively locks in moisture.
It will help detangle the hair
Apple cider vinegar smooths the cuticles, so that hair doesn’t become easily matted or tangled.
It will treat hair loss
The vinegar has been known to stimulate healthy hair growth, largely by keeping the scalp healthy, which is the foundation of healthy hair.
It will remove products build-up
The vinegar can cleanse the hair and remove oil and product buildup, without stripping the hair of its natural oils.
It will balance the hair’s PH
Healthy hair is balanced hair, and as the vinegar has a PH which is not so different to the hair, it can help restore balance and hair health. It will really help if you overdone it with the chemical dyes or other treatments.
It helps reduce frizz
The vinegar seals in moisture and smooths the cuticles, making the hair less prone to an attack of frizz.
It will treat a dry, irritated scalp
Apple cider vinegar has antibacterial and antifungal properties that will help soothe and treat an itchy scalp.
It will treat and prevent split ends
The vinegar can smooth the hair cuticles which prevents breakage and damage.
How can you use apple cider vinegar on your hair?
Vinegar hair rinse
Hair has an acidic PH, and many of the hair products we use are alkaline. Apple cider vinegar has a PH which is not too far off the hair’s PH level, so it restores healthy balance and removes product build-up. Don’t worry about the smell of the vinegar, this should go away as the hair dries.
Make a rinse by adding 1/3 of a cup of the vinegar to a litre of water. Store it in a plastic bottle for ease of use. Rinse the hair after shampooing and repeat once or twice per week.
Herbal hair rinse
By mixing herbs with the vinegar rinse, you can enhance hair colour and condition it too.
To make the rinse:
Put 2 tablespoons of your chosen dried herb into a teapot with a pint of boiling water and allow it to infuse for 2 hours. Allow the mixture to cool then add a pint of apple cider vinegar to it. To add some extra fragrance, add a few drops of lavender or rose essential oil.
Ideal herbs to use in this rinse;
If you have dark hair, try parsley, rosemary, or sage
If your hair is fair, use chamomile or marigold
If your hair is red, try henna
If your hair is oily, try lavender, witch hazel or thyme
If your hair is dry and brittle, try horsetail
Essential oil vinegar hair rinse
This is an alternative to making an infusion. If you are short on time, you can just add an essential oil to the vinegar.
To make the rinse:
Add 5 drops of an essential oil to 250 ml of vinegar. Add 250 ml of water to make a rinse. Oils which will go nicely with this rinse include lavender, rose, sage, and rosemary.
Dandruff and itchy scalp relief rinse
The acids and natural enzymes in the vinegar can help kill fungus and bacteria which can cause irritation of the scalp and dandruff.
To make the rinse:
Infuse the vinegar with burdock root, nettle, or tea tree. Allow the mixture to cool then rinse the hair with it after you shampoo.
Hair Loss treatment rinse
Mix some vinegar with water and one of the following herbs to prevent hair loss and promote healthy hair growth.
Burdock, chamomile, lavender, thyme and saw palmetto all work well. Rinse the scalp with the mixture after you shampoo, making sure to direct it mainly at the scalp.
Head lice rinse
Head lice infestation is very unpleasant and highly contagious. Many preparations to combat head lice are full of chemicals however, so try this natural rinse instead if you are concerned about using strong commercial products.
Mix 3 parts olive oil with 1 part lavender oil. Mix in 1 tablespoon of the vinegar in 250ml of water and rinse the hair. Repeat the treatment every other day until the signs of infestation have gone.
Is apple cider vinegar safe?
Apple cider vinegar is generally safe, though it has been linked to muscle cramps and muscle weakness in some people as it causes an imbalance of potassium. As it can potentially lower blood glucose, it is not recommended for diabetics, and as always, if you have any health condition, speak to a health professional to confirm that it’s safe for you to consume. Try not to drink the vinegar straight due to the acidity. It can upset your stomach and cause tooth decay. If you are on any medications, always check that they will not interact with the vinegar. Known interactions include diuretics, laxatives, and diabetic medications.
Vinegar might not be the most glamourous of products. It doesn’t smell nice or taste nice, or even look nice. But it is cheap, and so it turns out, very effective for health, beauty and keeping your home fresh and clean. Using vinegar to treat health conditions isn’t new, Hippocrates is reputed to have used it, and the first reported use was in 5000BC. Like a lot of useful discoveries, vinegar was discovered by accident. It was found that if any food stuff fermented, alcohol would be produced that eventually became vinegar.
Apple cider vinegar is made from fermented apples. It contains vitamins, minerals and plentiful antioxidants, acids and other compounds which mean that we can gain all the benefits of eating apples, but we can access it in a much more concentrated form. Just as an apple a day can keep the doctor away, so can taking or applying apple cider vinegar cure many health and beauty ills. A humble vinegar can cure skin problems, make hair healthier, control weight, improve digestion, and on top of that, keep our homes smelling fresh and looking spotlessly clean. No one would believe it.
But it’s when we use the apple cider vinegar on our hair that it really comes into its own. The vinegar could rival any hair product on the market, because it promotes shine, locks in moisture, combats hair loss and prevents dandruff. The beauty industry would have to admit that it would be unlikely that we could get these benefits from one product, let alone a natural product. But you can.
There are so many hair products on the market, but they are largely backed up by marketing hype. The jury is out on whether they are effective. They often contain undesirable ingredients such as sulphates, which make the products lather. These sulphates are damaging to the environment and potentially damaging to us. Harsh ingredients can dry out our hair and skin, and upset the natural balance of oils. So, our hair or our skin reacts, it dries out, we get breakouts, and we think that the problem is our skin or hair. We tell people we have oily skin, dry skin, or spotty skin. We tell people we have dry, unmanageable hair. But the problem is not our hair or our skin. They have simply reacted to harsh ingredients, which they don’t like. Natural products promote balance and work in harmony with us.
The industry is catching on though and there are more products with naturally derived ingredients than ever before. There are ranges of sulphate-free shampoos and other products which are free of preservatives and other nasties, but there’s still a long way to go. Nobody knows how safe these man-made products are when they are absorbed into our bodies.
Consumers are much more aware of this now, and they don’t want to expose themselves or their families to a boat load of chemicals and potential toxins. They are also more environmentally conscious, and they don’t want to think about the number of chemicals they are washing down the plughole to end up in our rivers, streams, and seas.
Enhancing our health with natural products is not only sensible, it’s affordable and sustainable. Go natural to care for yourself and our planet.