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History of Apple Cider Vinegar

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Updated June 21, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Where to Find Apple Cider Vinegar:

Unlike white vinegar, apple cider vinegar is a light yellow-brown color and is often sold unfiltered and unpasteurized with a dark, cloudy sediment settled at the bottom of the bottle. Known as "mother of vinegar," this sediment consists mainly of acetic acid bacteria. Unfiltered and unpasteurized apple cider vinegar is sold in health food stores, online and in some grocery stores.

Apple cider vinegar is also sold in tablet form. However, it should be noted that the quality of apple cider vinegar tablets may vary. For example, a 2005 study compared eight brands of apple cider vinegar supplements and found that the ingredients didn't correspond with the ingredients listed on the packaging. What's more, the chemical analysis of the samples led researchers to question whether any of the products were actually apple cider vinegar or simply acetic acid. In addition, apple cider vinegar tablets may become lodged in the throat or esophagus and cause serious damage to those tissues.

History of Apple Cider Vinegar:

Although other types of vinegar - such as white vinegar, balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar and rice wine vinegar - are used mainly in cooking, apple cider vinegar is used primarily for health purposes. Hippocrates was said to have used it as a health tonic, and American soldiers are said to have used it to combat indigestion, pneumonia and scurvy.

But it wasn’t until the book Folk Medicine: A Vermont Doctor’s Guide to Good Health, written by D.C. Jarvis, M.D., was published in 1958 that the medicinal use of apple cider vinegar took off. Jarvis recommended apple cider vinegar as a cure-all, explaining that it was unusually rich in potassium (although compared to other food sources, it is not). He said that mixing the apple cider vinegar with honey (a mixture he called "honegar") enhanced the healing power of the vinegar. Jarvis also wrote that apple cider vinegar could destroy harmful bacteria in the digestive tract and recommended as a digestive tonic to be consumed with meals.

In the 1970s, apple cider vinegar became popular once again, this time with the help of proponents who had read Jarvis' book and suggested that apple cider vinegar (along with kelp, vitamin B6, and lecithin) could help people lose weight by speeding metabolism and burning fat at a faster rate.

Using Apple Cider Vinegar for Health:

If you're considering the use of apple cider vinegar for a specific health problem, it's important to consult your doctor before using it.

Sources:

Fushimi T, Suruga K, Oshima Y, Fukiharu M, Tsukamoto Y, Goda T. Dietary acetic acid reduces serum cholesterol and triacylglycerols in rats fed a cholesterol-rich diet. Br J Nutr. (2006) 95.5: 916-924.

Hlebowicz J, Darwiche G, Björgell O, Almér LO. "Effect of apple cider vinegar on delayed gastric emptying in patients with type 1 diabetes mellitus: a pilot study." BMC Gastroenterol. 2007 Dec 20;7:46.

Kondo S, Tayama K, Tsukamoto Y, Ikeda K, Yamori Y. "Antihypertensive effects of acetic acid and vinegar on spontaneously hypertensive rats." Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2001 Dec;65(12):2690-4.

Kondo T, Kishi M, Fushimi T, Kaga T. "Acetic acid upregulates the expression of genes for fatty acid oxidation enzymes in liver to suppress body fat accumulation." J Agric Food Chem. 2009 Jul 8;57(13):5982-6.

Kondo T, Kishi M, Fushimi T, Ugajin S, Kaga T. "Vinegar intake reduces body weight, body fat mass, and serum triglyceride levels in obese Japanese subjects." Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2009 Aug;73(8):1837-43.

Ostman E, Granfeldt Y, Persson L, Björck I. Vinegar supplementation lowers glucose and insulin responses and increases satiety after a bread meal in healthy subjects. Eur J Clin Nutr. (2005) 59.9: 983-988.

Shishehbor F, Mansoori A, Sarkaki AR, Jalali MT, Latifi SM. "Apple cider vinegar attenuates lipid profile in normal and diabetic rats." Pak J Biol Sci. 2008 Dec 1;11(23):2634-8.

White AM, Johnston CS. Vinegar ingestion at bedtime moderates waking glucose concentrations in adults with well-controlled type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care. (2007) 30.11: 2814-2815.

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