For thousands of years humans have used vinegar to flavor foods, fight infections, clean household surfaces and control pests. The earliest documented use of vinegar dates back to circa 420 B.C. when Hippocrates implemented it in the treatment of wounds. Today vinegar remains a household staple with a variety of uses.
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According to an article published by the National Institutes of Health, Hippocrates began prescribing oxymel, a concoction of honey and vinegar used for the treatment of persistent coughs, around 420 B.C. Some physicians today attest to the effectiveness of this ancient, natural remedy, reports Carol S. Johnston, Ph.D.,. of the Department of Nutrition for Arizona State University Mesa. Johnston released a detailed report published by the National Institutes of Health about the versatility of vinegar for medicinal uses.
According to Johnston, physicians in coastal areas around the world use vinegar in the treatment of jellyfish stings. They believe that vinegar works to deactivate the nematocysts (pain inducing cells) in jellyfish venom. There is some evidence that vinegar ingestion may help the body control insulin, the hormones that regulate blood sugar, after eating high carbohydrate foods.
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources recommends replacing caustic household chemicals with a variety of vinegar-based concoctions to reduce the amount of pollutants released into natural waterways. It suggests that a solution of equal parts water and white vinegar effectively cleans windows and a mixture of vinegar, salt and water may replace ammonia-based products for hard-surface cleaning. The Maryland DNR also recommends using boiling water, ¼ cup baking soda and ¼ cup vinegar in place of harsh chemical drain cleaners.
The Vinegar Tips website recommends using undiluted vinegar for removing odors from plastic food containers, cleaning mini-blinds, polishing copper, brass and pewter and shining porcelain.
Dr. Roger DeHaan, DVM, recommends a simple flea-killing rinse for dogs. He suggests adding apple cider vinegar to rinse water, according to the Apple Cider Vinegar Benefits website. A similar recommendation involves washing the pet in a mild shampoo, rinsing as usual and spraying the animal with equal parts vinegar and water before allowing the animal to drip dry.
Vinegar Tips recommends pouring white distilled vinegar on anthills and spraying slugs with a mixture of equal parts vinegar and water to kill them.
Johnston’s research suggests that healthy individuals feel satiated for longer periods of time when they ingest vinegar with bread during the first meal of the day. Research conducted by scientists at Lund University in Sweden and published by the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition concludes that individuals who ingest vinegar with their first meal consume fewer calories throughout the day due to a glucose response to the vinegar in their bodies. However, Johnston points out that, while rare, there have been instances in which individuals who ingest undiluted vinegar have burned the backs of their throats or accidentally inhaled the liquid into their respiratory tracts.
Dr. D.C. Jarvis, author of “Folk Remedies,” conducted a two-year study in which test subjects consumed two tablespoons of vinegar in water at each meal. His results concluded that it was possible to reduce body weight without changing diet or exercise habits when using the vinegar-water method. The Apple Cider Vinegar Benefits website recommends adding a small amount of raw honey to the mixture to make it more palatable.