Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) is labeled as one of the most incredible healing tonics of all time, and it may also be one of the most controversial. With very limited contemporary scientific research on ACV, we do not have much scientific proof of its benefits. It is interesting, though, that the limited research that does exist often finds health benefits.

Historical Accounts

The use of vinegar dates back to 5000 BC when the Babylonians used it as a food preservative. The healing properties of Apple HippocratesCider Vinegar date back to 3300 BC where it was used by the Egyptians for weight loss. Hippocrates allegedly used ACV as a healing elixir, antibiotic, and for overall health. Samurai warriors used a vinegar solution before battle to increase their overall strength.

Today, Apple Cider Vinegar is seen either as a “cure-all” or a “load of hogwash.” It seems as though most people are either very for or very against the health benefits of ACV. I feel as though I am right in the middle. I do believe that there are many health benefits to using ACV, but I also don't feel that it is a magic tonic.

What is it?

Apple Cider Vinegar is made in a two-step process. The first step is to expose apple cider to yeast. When this occurs, the sugars within the apple cider ferment and turn to alcohol. In the second step, bacteria are added to the alcohol to further ferment the solution and turn it into acetic acid, which is the main compound in vinegar.

Organic, raw and unfiltered apple cider vinegar also contains the “mother” strands of enzymes and good bacteria which are a byproduct of the two-stage fermentation process. The “mother” also gives raw ACV a cloudy look.

Some people believe that it is the “mother” that gives ACV its healing properties and although there is no scientific evidence to prove this, I believe that the less processed something is, the better its overall health benefits.

Apple Cider Vinegar May Lower Blood Sugar Levels

In contemporary medicine, the only scientific research on Apple Cider Vinegar has looked at Type 2 diabetes, and this research shows very promising results. Type 2 diabetes is characterized by elevated blood sugars, either in the context of insulin resistance or an inability to produce insulin.

However, you do not have to be diabetic to suffer from high blood sugar levels; there are an estimated 86 million people in the U.S. who have elevated blood sugar levels and are considered pre-diabetic. Elevated blood sugar is believed to be a major cause of many chronic diseases.

Everyone can benefit from keeping one’s blood sugar levels stable. The most effective way to do so is to properly manage one’s diet, but ACV may be a powerful ally.

In studies published by the American Diabetes Association, vinegar has been shown to have numerous benefits for blood sugar and insulin function:

  • 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar before bed can reduce fasting blood sugars by 4 percent

  • Vinegar improves insulin sensitivity during a high carbohydrate meal by 19-34percent

  • Vinegar reduced blood sugar by 34 percent when eating 50 grams of white bread

Studies show that Apple Cider Vinegar can be useful for anyone who wishes to keep their blood sugar levels low.

(If you are on medications for lowering your blood sugar you should check with your doctor before adding Apple Cider Vinegar as a dietary supplement).

Apple Cider Vinegar and Weight Loss

Given that ACV is proven to lower blood sugar levels it seems logical to me that it can also help one lose weight. Let me explain further:

When blood sugar levels in our body rise, our pancreas releases insulin. The higher the blood sugar, the more insulin is released. When insulin is released, it facilitates the use of sugar in our blood and those blood sugars will either be used as energy, muscle repair, or turned into fat. Unless you have just finished running a marathon and need a ton of carbohydrates for muscle recovery, you will gain fat when your insulin levels spike. Processed foods and sugary drinks cause your insulin levels to spike more than most foods. After your body has used up most of the sugar, this cycle quickly starts over, with us feeling fatigued and hungry, and reaching again for another sugary snack or drink. By helping our blood sugar remain stable, ACV may help prevent this insulin spike and subsequent fat gain.

Several studies show that Apple Cider Vinegar can increase satiety throughout the day. A study by Arizona State University found the people who took 1 Tablespoon of ACV in the morning with a high carbohydrate breakfast ate 200-275 fewer calories for the rest of the day.

A study on obese individuals showed that daily vinegar consumption led to reduced belly fat, waist circumference, lower bloodapple cider vinegar triglycerides and weight loss. Over 12 weeks a group that took 2 tablespoons a day lost an average of 3.7 pounds. Now that is by no means a miracle weight loss tonic, but I would consider it a weight loss aid. I believe ACV can help weight loss by helping keep blood sugar low, and giving you a feeling of fullness after meals.

Heart Health and Cancer

Cardiovascular disease is currently the world's leading cause of death. Several studies suggest that consuming Apple Cider Vinegar can reduce the risk factors involved in causing cardiovascular disease. The caveat: all of the scientific research on ACV on cardiovascular has been done strictly with rats and in test tubes. Although those studies show a great deal of promise and will hopefully be put to human applications, foods work very differently when ingested by animals, and I will not bore you with those results. What I will tell you is that in a 10-year observational study from Harvard, women who ate a vinegar based salad dressing 5-6 days per week had a reduced risk of heart disease.

As with cardiovascular disease, all of the research on vinegar and cancer has been done on rats and in labs. This being said, studies have shown that vinegar can kill cancer cells and shrink tumors.

Overall, it is possible that ACV can reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, and cancer, but more studies need to be done, and it is definitely too early to effectively make any recommendations on these risks.

Vinegar Can Kill Bacteria and is a Potent Antimicrobial

To this day vinegar is used as a food preservative and disinfectant. Studies show that vinegar inhibits bacteria such as E. coli and Salmonella from growing on surfaces and spoiling food.

So, whether cleaning your counters or preserving foods, Apple Cider Vinegar is highly useful and extremely cost effective.

Topical Applications

The list of topical applications is vast and numerous; removing skin tabs, fighting dandruff and reducing cellulite are just a few of the ailments that Apple Cider Vinegar can allegedly cure. There is no scientific research done on most of these treatments and since I have not tried them, I do not have an opinion on them. A simple Google search will allow you to find hundreds of ailments that ACV will help. If you are curious, I say try them! If they work, great, if not... It's a good thing that Apple Cider Vinegar is so cheap.

If there is one thing that I do know, the absence of proof does not mean that something doesn't work, it just means it hasn't been proved by science yet. Who knows which of these things will become scientific fact in the future? With some scientific evidence, and lots of anecdotal evidence, I feel that Apple Cider Vinegar is a great candidate for self-experimentation. If you see something about it that looks interesting, then go ahead and give it a try. Apple Cider Vinegar seems to be very safe and have no side effects with normal consumption.

Normal consumption of Apple Cider Vinegar is considered 1-2 tablespoons per day, and I do not recommend taking more thanBragg's Apple Cider Vinegar that. I also recommend using organic, unfiltered, raw Apple Cider Vinegar. Bragg's is one of the most popular brands and you can find it on-line, at health food stores, and now at Publix.

I personally take two teaspoons of ACV with my breakfast and lunch. I will also take one teaspoon if I have any indigestion, and it seems to help more than anything else that I have used. I simply dilute mine with a little water and drink it, but one of the easiest ways to add ACV into your diet is by using it in your salad dressings.

Apple Cider Vinegar is not a “miracle” cure like some people believe, but it does clearly have some important health benefits.