Apple cider vinegar is said to be a natural remedy for many ailments. In 400 B.C.E Hippocrates (the father of modern medicine) knew about apple cider vinegar's antibiotic properties and recommended it to his patients for its healing properties. Since then it's been valued by many cultures right up to modern times.
Apple cider vinegar has anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral properties. Among the ailments it's said to cure are allergies, acne, high cholesterol, joint pain, weight loss, rheumatism, arthritis, gout, dandruff, chronic fatique, candida, sore throat, gum infection, sinus infection, flu, acid reflux, leg cramps and ear infections. It's also used to help dissolve kidney stones, lower high blood pressure, and it's also been shown to help with type 2 diabetes by improving insulin sensitivity.
Even though vinegar is acidic, when we take apple cider vinegar it has an alkaline effect in our bodies. The fact that apple cider vinegar causes our pH levels to become more alkaline could play a large part in it's curative properties. It also reacts to some toxins in our bodies, converting them into less toxic substances. Our bodies need a slightly alkaline pH balance to be healthy. The typical Western diet creates an acidic pH in our bodies, and many health problems are attributed to this. Taking a tonic containing apple cider vinegar can help restore alkalinity, and therefore assist the body in getting rid of some of the health problems listed above.
In researching the health benefits of apple cider vinegar I've found a lot of anecdotal evidence – stories from people of the beneficial effects of taking apple cider vinegar. There isn't scientific evidence to back up all of these claims, but of course unless the studies have been done there won't be. Lack of scientific evidence doesn't imply that it doesn't work.
There was at least one study done on the effects of apple cider vinegar which used acetic acid – the acid component of vinegars. Now, I'd argue that apple cider vinegar is more than just acetic acid. In fact, apple cider vinegar consists of both malic acid and acetic acid. Being made from apples it would also contain pectin, as well as potassium, which promotes cell and tissue growth. Apple cider vinegar also contains almost all the minerals, vitamins and trace elements that our bodies need. Which leads me to suspect that some of the studies that are being done are fairly worthless exercises in determining the value of apple cider vinegar if they aren't actually using apple cider vinegar in the study.
Because science allows us to break things down into their component parts in order to understand how things work, I think too often scientists only see things as their component parts, missing the whole concept of the synergy found in nature. Everything has the potential to be more than the sum of its parts.
The health benefits of apple cider vinegar will vary depending on the ingredients and process used in making it. Commercial production can use wood shavings, and other vinegars as the base (speeding fermentation), changing the makeup of the end product. You'll get the greatest health benefits from apple cider vinegar that is made from organic apples, fermented using traditional methods, raw (unpasteurised) and unfiltered. If you can't find good quality apple cider vinegar you could try making your own. This apple cider vinegar recipe has recipes for two methods of production. The one which uses whole apples will be of better quality for medicinal purposes, the one using scraps is quicker to make. You could make both so that you have something to use sooner while you wait for the whole apple batch to ferment.
Be sure to avoid taking apple cider vinegar neat (undiluted) as it eats away at tooth enamel and can cause burns to the sensitive tissues in your mouth and throat. There have also been reports of apple cider vinegar supplements (in capsule form) causing permanent tissue damage of the esophagus. So use apple cider vinegar in liquid form, diluted with water.
A simple tonic can be made from 1-2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar, 1 teaspoon honey in a cup of warm water.
Where to buy the best quality apple cider vinegar
The next best thing to your own homemade cider vinegar is Bragg's Apple Cider Vinegar Raw, Organic, Unfiltered, with the ‘mother' which you can order online by clicking that link.