image: Mike Mozart/Flickr Creative Commons license

In 420 BCE Hippocrates used raw apple cider vinegar to clean wounds. Sung Tse, the 10th century creator of Chinese forensic medicine, advocated washing hands with a mixture of sulfur and raw vinegar to avoid infection during autopsies, and Roman soldiers mixed raw apple cider vinegar (RACV) with water and drank it as a strengthening and energizing tonic. So did Japanese samurai. (The addition of raw vinegar to drinking water killed infectious agents and made the water safe.)

In our own country, RACV was used to disinfect and speed up wound healing during the American Civil War and as late as WWI. Then, in the late 1950s, a man by the name of D.C. Jarvis wrote his best-selling book Folk Medicine: A Vermont Doctor’s Guide to Good Health. RACV was featured large. Jarvis promoted RACV for acid indigestion and wrote that most people who think they suffer from acid indigestion don’t, but instead lack sufficient hydrochloric acid. RACV in water before meals could be the solution, he said.

What is raw apple cider vinegar? It’s the old-fashioned, naturally fermented, unfiltered, unpasteurized vinegar with the “mother” still in it. The mother isn’t pretty; it makes the vinegar cloudy. But it’s the real deal and has enzymes which the clear pasteurized vinegars do not.

What are some ways you might want to try RACV? Got a sore throat? Mix 1 Tbsp raw apple cider vinegar in a big glass of warm water. Take a mouthful. Gargle and spit out. Take another mouthful and swallow. Take a mouthful and gargle and then spit out. Take another mouthful and swallow. Continue until the glass is empty. Do this every hour (a few hours are usually enough). Bye-bye sore throat.

Have a sprain or strain? Warm a cup of RACV and saturate a cloth. Apply to sprain 5 minutes every hour. Will you smell like a salad? Yes. Does it work? Also, yes. And there are those who say that sipping 2 tsp RACV in 16 oz water helps with weight loss (it helps break down fat, they say). Today we’ve got apple cider vinegar gummies for weight loss, digestion, and energy. Who wudda’ thunk?

Constipated? Dr. Jarvis said that starting the day off by drinking 1-2 Tbsp RACV with the same amount of honey mixed together in water helps with that, and others say drinking RACV each day helps with allergies. says that the effect of RACV on blood glucose levels is perhaps the best-researched and most promising of cider vinegar’s possible health benefits. Several studies found that it may help lower glucose levels. For instance, one 2007 study of people with type 2 diabetes found that taking 2 Tbsp RACV before bed lowered glucose levels in the morning by 4%-6%.

RACV helps extract calcium from the fruits, vegetables, and meat it is mixed with, helping in the process of maintaining strong bones. It’s rich in potassium, and potassium deficiency causes a variety of ailments including hair loss, weak fingernails, brittle teeth, sinusitis, and a permanently running nose.

RACV contains malic acid which is very helpful in fighting fungal and bacterial infections. This acid also dissolves and gradually eliminates uric acid deposits that form around joints, helping relieve joint pains.

How do I start each morning? With a spoonful of RACV and liquid chlorophyll (that’s another story for another day) in a mug of water. Tastes okay, and I’m convinced it’s doing me good. Try some yourself and let me know if you find some stubborn condition shifts in your body.