five things to do with apple cider vinegar

Posted on September 25th, 2012

I traveled recently. You might have noticed. I traveled with some truly odd things. One of the oddest was a bottle of apple cider vinegar.

photo by Ditte Isager

To qualify for a spot in my pack, an item had to have a dual purpose. As a minimum requirement. Well, ACV certainly passed the test.

Read here about what else I packed to travel.

People often ask me, however, what the big deal is with ACV and what one is meant to do with it. Well, I’m here to say I can name five things…

1. Drink it with warm water in the morning and before meals

I take a tablespoon in slightly cooled, boiled water as soon as I wake up, and again before dinner.

Why? Personally, it gets my appetite going (in the morning) and it gets my juices fired up ready for food (before dinner). Having an autoimmune disease, I lack the crucial HCL required for proper digestion. ACV kicks in and does the job of the missing acid. That said, everyone can benefit from the practice – it alkalises, and as I’ve said before, disease is unable to exist in an alkaline system.

The more you alkalise, the better you are.

Here’s some stuff to know:

* ACV works by correcting acid issues. It acts as a buffer in the body – the acetic acid reacts with base or acid compounds to form an acetate, therefore rendering them chemically bioavailable for the body’s utilization.

* A 2009 study in Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry  found consuming acetic acid for 12 weeks led to significant declines in body weight, abdominal fat, waist circumference and triglycerides.

* Also, it’s full enzymes that can help rid your body of candida due to the malic acid and acetic acid.

* It can reduce the toxicity of certain compounds, by converting the toxin into an acetate compound, which is much less toxic.

* If you have a hard time drinking it, try it with hot/warm water…it’s kind of warm ciderish and tastes sweeter when warm (somehow). Or try these ideas here for making it taste better.

PS: I like to use Bragg’s brand, or any other organic brand I can find.

2. Use it in dressings

Anyone who’s read my I Quit Sugar: an 8-week Program ebook will know that balsamic vinegar is 15 per cent sugar. ACV, by contrast is less than 1 per cent.

I make a simple dressing by mixing 3 tbls apple cider vinegar, 3 tbls Dijon mustard, 4 tbls olive oil in a jar and shaking.

3. Or just pour it on cucumber for a quick snack

Cucumber Salad

  •  1 cucumber, peeled and chopped into 1/2 cm slices
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  •  1/4 teaspoon celtic sea salt

Combine all the ingredients in a nice dish. Eat.

4. Use it to thicken your hair

Fill an old shampoo bottle with 1/2 a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and a cup of cold water. Pour the solution through your hair after shampooing several times a week – it makes it shiny and thicker. My hair has really struggled on this trip (thyroid stuff) and this rinse has made a big difference.

5. Use it to smooth your skin

Dilute apple cider vinegar with two parts water, and spread over your face with a cotton ball or dab it on pimples.

Perhaps you do other clever stuff with ACV? Share, please!
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  • Thanks for this. I love the super powers of ACV. I especially love the idea of replacing balsamic vinegar with it and the idea of sipping before a meal. My husband has a funny tummy (sensitive) so perhaps this is worth a shot? I also use it with some water to soak all my fruit and vegies in when I don’t use organic to get rid of all the nasties off them before consuming.


    Meg Reply:

    I love the idea of using it to soak vegetables and fruit. I bought a veggie wash to use on my non-organic produce, only to realise I didn’t recognise any of the ingredients in the wash! Vinegar is a great substitute.


  • I wish and hope one day I can try doing the apple cider in water drinks – I have chronic illness-y stuff including bad digestive issues, and it’s been suggested I try Betaine HCl (though I would rather do ACV). I think it would really help, but sadly last fall I developed a laryngeal granuloma from “silent reflux” which looking back, I think is from a combination of taking tons of antibiotics a few years before and then tons of asthma inhalers and cortisone inhalers for the past couple years. I’ve been on treatment for my throat for months now, but I still can’t take any acid on it – even mild lemon water – without risking crazy asthma attacks.

    Complex health issues are… complex. But I’m glad to hear you’ve found good results with ACV, since you and I seem to have a lot of similar health things going on. Gives me hope it might help once my throat is more healed!


    PP@pimpmybricks Reply:

    I hope you’ll forgive unsolicited ‘advice’ but reading your comment made me wonder whether you’ve considered doing the GAPS protocol. It’s hardcore, but it’s working for me. 18 months in and many weird symptoms that I would never have associated with digestive problems (as well as digestive problems) have gone.


  • I have ACV in a little spray bottle that I spray on my skin. I don’t particularly like smelling like a salad dressing, but it does make my skin feel good.
    My go-to salad dressing is:ACV, olive oil, seeded mustard, garlic, salt and pepper, a little organic honey and (if I’m feeling spicy) some chilli. It is deee-lish-us.


  • Lula

    ACV actually works a treat to cure nail issues (i.e fungal- gross, I know but trust me)

    I had some less-than-lovely issues with the big toe toenails on both feet, for about a month everyday I filed my toenail and then used a cotton ball to soak ACV on each nail for a few minutes. It has worked a treat and now I have summer-ready toes!


    grace b Reply:

    Good to know! I had this for ages growing and my mother was always very worried about (cosmetically esp). I even went to a doctor and had my toenails tested and they found nothing wrong with them. Cutting out sugar seems to be a fix for them and now I know that ACV is helpful too! Thanks.

    I use it for uh, lady woes….:/


  • My hubby likes to sit down at the end of the day with a sundowner, and I like the idea but since I gave up sugar my glass of wine is a no-no. With a little bit of imagination I can sip ACV and water and pretend it is a glass of white wine 🙂


    Rose Reply:

    That made me laugh but i quite like that idea; sittng down to a relaxing pre dinner drink of ACV. I’ve actually bought a bottle a while ago but havent tried it yet. i was waiting for some salad days to use but i’ve just discovered many more ways to use!


    Kristine Reply:

    My 3 year old daughter and I have an ACV drink every night before dinner. She likes it in a fancy glass and always asks for her ‘health drink’. A friend of ours was over one night and she gave it a try but insisted we come up with a different name for it (she’s not into health stuff!), so we started calling it ‘evening cocktail’. 🙂


  • Naz

    Great timing for this post, I just got some a few days ago to make bone broth.

    Thanks for the tips Sarah!


  • Joelle

    This is so serendipitous – I’ve been delving into your blog and in particular all of your nutritional advice a lot recently (with much success – have cut out sugar and grains and feel the best I have for ages). I literally just thought ‘I wonder what Sarah reckons about apple cider vinegar’ and GOOGLED ‘Sarah Wilson apple cider cinegar’ only to find this post from just hours ago. Love it (and will carry on with the AVC).


  • It’s really good to add to stocks while you’re simmering them – it apparently draws the nutrients out from the bones. A couple of tablespoons per stock pot.

    And you can use it in de-tox baths, though I prefer epsom salts.

    Quick question – my hair suffers dreadfully from thyroid problems (think floor black with fallen hair) and is consequently a little on the fine side. Do you rinse your hair after rinsing with ACV or do you just douse and go?



    Peta Reply:

    I mix a couple of tablespoons with water in a small plastic jug in the shower pour over head and leave for about a minute and then rinse. Your hair will smell like ACV until it drys. I do this every time I wash my hair and it feels great.


  • Vasiliki

    Vicky mentioned that her husband has tummy issues. I wanted to share something I have learnt from the lebanese … the use Rose water to settle all kinds of stomach related issues. You might want to look into investing in good quality Rose water though and not your supermarket stock which they claim doesnt work. Rose water tastes really sweet just something to consider outside of its medicinal use.

    Sorry for not being able to use the Reply button above.


  • Kirsten

    I do almost all of these! (I’ve never tried it on just cucumber though)

    I usually have a tbs or two of ACV in my water bottle throughout the day – it tastes just like having a squeeze of lemon juice in the water, to me. But it made a nasty surprise for my friend one day when she took a sip from my water bottle, not knowing it had vinegar in it. Her face was priceless! 🙂


  • Kate

    Interesting post Sarah, thanks for sharing. Have just been looking into GAPS/Body Ecology as digestive enzymes and ACV alone don’t seem to be helping much. Judging by some comments here maybe I’m not taking enough ACV!


  • I discovered ACV with Honey about 2 months ago – it rocks. I have a tablespoon every morning and every night and it’s great as a salad dressing with a slightly sweet tang.
    I started this whilst doing Dry July and felt fantastic. One evening I couldnt find any ventolin and had wheezy, coughing asthma fit. Yep, ACV with Honey did the trick. LOVE IT!!


  • Zoe

    Hope this isn’t TMI, but when someone passed this on to me it was such a huge help I felt like passing it on to anyone who would listen.

    ACV is the best/quickest cure for a BV flare or YI. A few months ago I had my first ever experience with BV and symptoms and it was unfortunately late on a sunday night with a public holiday the next day.

    Luckily a naturopath had advised me to keep Braggs ACV in the pantry for a gastritis issue, so I had on hand. A friend told me to stir 1-2 tsps of ACV in 1/4-1/2 cup of water and gently dab the affected areas with it, and WOW. I had instant relief and have found it eased symptoms straight away anytime this has popped up again.

    Hope this helps someone!


    Mia Bluegirl Reply:

    Apple cider vinegar works because it rebalances the acid in your body. BV only thrives in an alkaline environment, and the acidity in the vinegar neutralises the pH irregularity. It’s a great natural remedy, and extremely effective.

    Which is why I gag every time I hear “the more you alkalise the better you are.” Anyone who has had metabolic alkalosis, BV, or any of the numerous diseases that ONLY thrive in an overly alkaline environment would strongly disagree!


  • I find that whenever i start an ACV ritual my skin breaks out like crazy…what gives?? Has anyone else noticed the same?


    Joanne Reply:

    Yes this happens to me. I take ACV every day but occassionally I might stop for a few days/week and then once I start I break out. The break outs do seem to be getting less and less though.


  • Liz

    I would be interested to know what other health products you travelled with this time. I know you have mentioned greens powders and chia in the past also. I am about to head to europe for 3 months and I’m not even coming from a totally well point gut wise so I don’t want to get any further off track overseas. I’m actually hoping to do some healing with the relaxation time I will have.


  • Liz

    Also did you pack the ACV glass bottle in your bag? I would be so scared it would break and all my clothes would smell like that!


  • Mark

    ACV will completely kill warts too. I drink it every morning as well although I’d recommend using a straw as it is quiet harsh on tooth enamel.


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  • Jenny

    First experience of drinking ACV in warm water. It’s not a pleasant experience – does it get better?

    I certainly can’t imagine spraying it on my skin.

    I wonder if vinegar isn’t my thing – I find whenever I eat things with vinegar in/on them, my skin starts to itch. My face is feeling a bit flushed and itchy now after drinking it in warm water.

    Sarah, does ACV not suit every one?
    @Mia Bluegirl – do you know?


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  • I love adding a splash of apple cider vinegar to my salads, a little sweeter touch than other vinegars, but I’ve never tried it as a cosmetic- cool suggestions! I’ve also heard of taking a shot of it helps with the digestive system… Whole foods sells a apple cider vinegar drink!


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  • I also have a thyroid related disorder- graves disease, which I was diagnosed with about a year ago now. I have jumped on the bandwagon and have just started having a tablespoon of ACV in boiling water before dinner and not only do I really enjoy the taste, but I feel that it has reduced the severity of some of my symptoms since I started doing it. Thanks for the great tip Sarah!


    Dianne Reply:

    Why do you have the ACV in boiling water? That seems very extreme. The water only needs to be warm. Good luck.


  • S

    Quick question, am a big ACV fan however was wondering why ACV should be used over regular stock-standard brown vinegar as a hair rinse? I have rinsed my hair with vinegar from a young age and it has always added an extra shine as well as prevented any icky scalp issues but would ACV be a better alternative?


  • Lisa

    Has anyone else had issues with their teeth from this? My dentist said I was wearing down the enamel on my teeth from something acidic. I used to have lemon in warm water every morning.


    Joanne Reply:

    My healthfood store worker told me to Drink it thru a straw to stop the enamel wearing on my teeth.


  • Karen

    Hi Sarah
    Just wanted to say i tried the ACV trick on my hair tonight and its nothing short of amazing! My hair which has been so incredibly dry and frizzy from the cold weather is now so curly and soft. Thanks so much 🙂


  • Lulu

    I found this very interesting and will try to start my day with the ACV. One thing I must say is, having an AI myself, I don’t believe it’s because there are lessons I have not learned. I suffer from fructose malabsorption, thyroid cancer, and all the issues of not having a thyroid. I don’t do we’ll with any sugars at all. At one stage I could have maple syrup but now it makes me ill. I have been unwell since my early teens and feel like an expert constantly looking for solutions but I don’t think it’s about lessons not learned. While ACV is great for so many things, it does not mean it’s good for everyone so I will try it and hope the sugars don’t send me to the hospital.


  • I recently did a one month roadtest of taking ACV daily to see if it would benefit my skin and health. My housemate with chronic fatigue syndrome joined me, with great results! I couldn’t stand taking the ACV on an empty stomach, though, it was too intense! Do you think there would be a big difference in taking it before or after food? We didn’t mix it with as much water, perhaps that would make it more stomachable…

    I blogged about it all here:


  • Kitty

    Agree with this post but the pictures of the nutrition labels are a little misleading – in the balsamic vinegar you’ve circled the per 100 mL measure, and in the apple cider one, the per 15 mL serving!


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  • I would drink ACV with lemon all the time when I was pregnant and I SWEAR that’s why I never had any morning sickness! I also craved the taste of it while pregnant too. 🙂
    I haven’t been drinking it lately but after reading this post I’m reminded of how great it is…might need to get a bottle!


  • Rosemary

    Hi Sarah

    I use it all the time on my hair, and it’s better than conditioner. But I’ve seen advice like yours before about putting it with cold water in bottle to use when needed. Nooooo! The thought of pouring cold solution on my head (especially in June) fills me with misery. I just keep a bottle of ACV in the bathroom and put about a third of a small plastic cup in the shower with me, then fill the cup with warm shower water and use it straight away.


  • Eveline Smith

    You can also use it to soothe a sun burn. Also it helps dandruff, use a little on your scalp after you have rinsed, do not rinse again.


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