By Allison Perry | 8/4/16
“Are you drinking…?!?!” I exclaim, momentarily too surprised to remember manners.
He chuckles, “Of course not. It’s apple cider vinegar.”
“No, mixed with water, lemon and honey.”
He offers the mixture to me and I sniff it cautiously. It makes my eyes water as it ever so gently singes my nostrils.
“Why…on Earth…are you drinking salad dressing…?”
Thus begins my foray into the world of vinegar. My co-worker explains that it has several benefits he’s heard about, notably strengthening the immune system, detoxifying properties and helping to control weight and metabolism.
In this new “I’ll-Try-Anything” phase of adulthood, I decide I’ll take to the internet and see if it might be worth trying.
Turns out, there’s a whole thing about this particular type of vinegar. I’ve read about the benefits of balsamic vinegar enough to always have a bottle of it on hand in the kitchen, but I’d never heard anyone suggest drinking it. Apple cider vinegar is different. Apparently.
My first hit on Google, courtesy of healthremedies.com, advised that apple cider vinegar has no less than 25 ways of improving one’s health. Mamvation neatly explained each benefit, ranging from what I was maybe expecting – weight loss, detox, lowering cholesterol, digestive aid – to less expected uses, such as wart removal, skincare, boosting energy, fading bruises and toning and clearing skin, whitening teeth, clearing sinuses and even preventing diabetes. And the stuff can still be used for all the things we “normally” use vinegar for, such as cooking and cleaning.
Other health-based and naturopath websites seemed to agree that apple cider vinegar is pretty much the greatest thing ever.
I was in. Next, how to consume and how much?
Some sites suggested three tablespoons per day, mixed with water, before each meal. Others indicated a shot in the morning before breakfast, after sleep’s fast, was the way to go.
I’m a big fan of quick and easy heath hacks, so I opted for the shot. I liked the idea of priming the digestive machine for the day, getting all the benefits at once and then not having to deal with it again for 24 hours.
Armed with two bottles of Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar – only $4.95 a pop, I’m also a fan of cheap – and a shot glass from Dylan’s Candy Bar, I awoke on morning one thinking “Ok, if I can drink a beer before a football game at 7 a.m. or stomach a shot of Jager or tequila, this should be child’s play.
I poured the shot, tossed it back and felt immediately aglow with the kind of relaxed, serene energy I’d always craved to fight the day. I could feel my GI tract purring like a kitten. It was exalting.
Wait, no, I’m lying. I gagged like I’ve never gagged before. It was a violent and clenchy minute or so, doubled up over the sink, before I decided I was out of the vomit-redzone, stood up, and almost threw the bottles straight into the recycling bin.
It. Was. Horrible.
I’ve always been prone to having, let’s say, a finicky stomach. Black coffee makes me queasy if I don’t eat a bit while I drink it. I pop Tums like they’re gummy bears, and I’ve had a couple of bouts with IBS and gastritis. I don’t know what the hell I was thinking taking a shot of what tastes and smells like pure acid on an empty stomach, but I learned my lesson.
Lesson one: the s*it is potent. If it can clean your floor, it’s going to have an effect on your insides. Proceed with caution. Baby steps, etc.
After suffering a six hour stomach ache – not debilitating, but bad enough to feel pukey and not want to eat – I decided I’d try again but I’d dilute the shot with water.
The next morning I mixed a shot of the vinegar with about 12 ounces of water. Took a sip. More water. Took another sip. More water. At about a ratio of 1 oz. vinegar to 24 oz. water I felt I could gulp the stuff in spurts while holding my breath and not hurl. I brought my giant green plastic cup of magical health elixir outside and took about five large gulps to finish it, all the while flinching and trying not to breath. My stomach curdled a bit, but only for a few minutes and I felt better once I ate.
The next morning I tried mixing the vinegar with honey and lemon. The effect, for me, was akin to spraying perfume on a dead trout. The original nastiness is far preferable to whatever happens when you try to mask the unpleasantness with anything sweet.
For the next month, I woke up, drank my giant green cup of vinegar and water and could only get used to it enough to finish in two or three giant gulps without cringing.
Without further adieu, here are the results of my extremely scientific and empirically based study: I just can’t tell if it did anything.
The (definitive) pros were as follows: the regimen forced me to drink a huge glass of water first thing every morning; I did feel fuller longer into the afternoon and could wait longer to eat lunch after not changing my breakfast or exercise habits (however this could simply be attributable to the fact that I was drinking 24 oz of water first thing each morning); I did not get sick once during that month (but I don’t get sick often so who knows); and I did get an absolutely horrifying sunburn during the time I had the vinegar in the house and it did seem to help when I rubbed it on the burn (but I smelled like a salad).
Cons: gagging, gagging, acid tummy, gagging, making horrible faces while chugging from an opaque cup in front of neighbors at 7 a.m. thus causing them to wonder if I’m a raging alcoholic, taking too long to drink 24 oz. of fluid before breakfast and being late to work because I’m slow AF in the morning.
In a nutshell I’d need a lot more time to determine if this works, particularly when it comes to the immune system. I haven’t discounted it entirely. However, as you can see from above, there isn’t a way for me to clearly attribute any of the positive effects I experienced, other than the sunburn relief, to the vinegar and not, perhaps, just the act of drinking a lot of water first thing in the morning. My skin seemed unchanged, but I have relatively few problems with it and the ones I do remained. I didn’t feel an identifiable boost of energy, but I definitely felt a bit less foggy-headed in the morning.
I don’t know how one can measure detoxifying effects in only a few weeks, but I’d never ever risk drinking something that acidic with even the tiniest hangover, so I didn’t get to test it out on whether it can alleviate short-term toxic gnarliness.
My verdict would simply be it can’t hurt, so if you want to try it, definitely go for it. However, if you want to see all the potential benefits, you’re going to really have to commit. The stuff is cheap and easy to find, so that isn’t an issue. Just don’t expect instant results.
I don’t currently have any Braggs in the house – I still prefer balsamic for cooking, but I do continue to fill up a glass of water – 10-12 oz now – first thing and drink it quickly while I’m taking the dog out before breakfast.
If you do decide to give the vinegar a try, Godspeed. I’d caution those with any stomach issues to start slowly and dilute the stuff as much as you need to. If you have any actual stomach conditions – IBS, ulcers, gastritis, etc. – I’d talk to a doctor first and chances are they’re going to caution you against dousing the fire with any more extra kerosene.
If all else fails, at least you’ll have the means to make some great salads and remove all your warts naturally.
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