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Cider Vinegar

An organic cure for a wide range of diseases and complaints.

A time-honoured, trans-atlantic folk remedy which has been used to treat a myriad of complaints from arthritis and hay fever to high blood pressure and excess weight. Cider vinegar, a tonic with great potential – look for organic brands.

Fragrant vinegar – add one drop of rose, geranium, lemon, lime or orange oil per each 10 ml of cider (or other) vinegar.

Cider vinegar lies at the heart of the fold medicine traditions of the farming state of Vermont in the USA.  Today not only health-food stores, but most major supermarkets stock cider vinegar.  The popularity of what was once a fold product, made simply by letting apple juice turn to vinegar naturally, owes a great deal to the book Folk Medicine written by a country doctor from Vermont, D. C. Jarvis, and first published in 1958.

Jarvis, whose family roots were in Vermont, underwent a conventional medical training, specializing in eyes, ears, nose and throat.  However, he retained an enquiring and open mind when it came to traditional fold medicine, with which he was familiar through his family, and through his country practice.

Jarvis noted the long working life of many Vermonters, with many putting in a vigorous day's work on the farm when they were well into their seventies and even their eighties.  The ascribed their prolonged vitality to a diet low in proteins such as meat and eggs, and high in carbohydrates such as root vegetables, fruits, leafy vegetables and berries.  In addition, the Vermonters also placed a high degree of reliance on the regular intake of cider vinegar and honey (see HONEY).  The practice was to take a couple of teaspoonfuls of each in a glass of water, at least once a day, although often the cider vinegar was used alone, or diluted with a little water, without the water.

Jarvis was aware that there were long traditions of always serving something acidic with proteinous food, such as vinegar-dressed salads with cold meats; sorrel and other leafy, acidic vegetables with fish; cranberry sauce with poultry; pickles and chutneys with cheese and lemon juice or vinegar with beans or other kinds of pulses.


Applying scientific method to his studies, Jarvis enrolled the help of locals to carry out long-term surveys of health and illness as they related to certain specific conditions which could be monitored and altered by folk medicines.  Chief among these conditions was the alkanity or acidity of the urine.  Litmus testing shows urine to have an acidic reaction when the body is fit and healthy, apart from an 'alkaline tide' that occurs just after eating.  A number of bodily states can be reflected as an alkaline reaction in the urine, the tests normally, being taken on rising in the morning (before drinking or eating), and just before the evening meal.


Urine tests have indicated that states of fear or anxiety could cause an alkaline urine reaction.  Other causes of an alkaline urine reaction include a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet, the onset of complaints such as the common cold and childhood diseases such as chicken pox and measles, and conditions such as sinusitis, asthmatic attacks, and hay fever.  In nearly all cases the regular administration of cider vinegar, which changed the urine reaction into an acidic one, was accompanied by an improvement in the medical condition.  Symptoms either disappeared, or the attacks were extremely mild, and soon over.  Where diet seemed to be the cause of the alkaline reaction, a shift to a higher proportion of fresh vegetables and fruits, together with the cider vinegar supplement, soon restored the urine to the acidic state.

Not all acids have the required effect.  It was noted that while a teaspoon of cider vinegar in a glass of water taken four time a day relieved arthritic pain in the course of a two-week treatment, a similar treatment with dilute hydrochloric acid actually increased the arthritic pains.  It was also recommended that the intake of citrus fruits, such as oranges and lemons, should be kept to an absolute minimum as citric acid provoked an alkaline reaction, and could be harmful, especially for those whose metabolism has been conditioned by being born and bred in northern climates, where citrus fruits are not indigenous.


The Vermont farming folk applied the same remedies to their livestock as they applied to themselves.  Cider vinegar was administered to pregnant women, and strong, vigorous offspring resulted in both instances.  Potassium deficiency in the Vermont region, due to lack of potassium in the top soil, was remedied by adding cider vinegar to the daily feed, as well as kelp (a type of seaweed) supplements.  In the last week or two of pregnancy, cows received cider vinegar and iodine mixtures in their feed.  Calves were strong, fully sized, on their feet within five minutes of birth, and bore a heavy coat of hair.  Goats and chickens too benefitted from potassium supplements in the form of cider vinegar, in that it improved both their general health and their fertility.

Jarvis studied all facets of Vermont folk medicine, and recommended the use of honey, kelp, castor oil and corn oil.  However, the principal place in the Vermont folk pharmacy is held by cider vinegar, which appears in a great range of applications.

As well as a general tonic, it is used as an important supplement for pregnant women, and as an antidote for neuralgic pain, headaches and migraine, sinusitis, high blood pressure, and arthritis.  It has been used to quell stomach upsets as serious as food poisoning and to clear up inflammation of the kidneys.  Cider vinegar washes and baths are believed to be far more beneficial than the use of soap, which is strongly alkaline.

The effects of cider vinegar on arthritis can be remarkable.  The addition of it to cattle feeds has reduced the swollen and inflamed knees of some cows, as well as remedying milk yield problems and bovine infections.


The cider vinegar that features so predominantly in Vermont folk medicine is widely available, and is also easily made at home.  Half-fill a non-metallic container with chopped apples, and top up with boiling water.  Leave it uncovered until the tiny vinegar flies have done their work and turned the liquid sour – you should be able to smell the acid.  Cover, and leave for a couple of weeks before straining thoroughly and putting in covered jars.

Plumbing Inspiration

Jarvis became interested in the effect of cider vinegar on calcium metabolism.  The acid was capable of eradicating calcium deposits in domestic boilers, and local plumbers used it for this purpose.  When his arthritic patients reported almost total relief after taking a course of cider vinegar, Jarvis surmised that the acid and potassium counteracted calcium deposits and helped the body control calcium use.


Honegar is the trade name of a honey and cider vinegar mixture produced using British Cox and Bramley apples from Sussex and Kent orchards.  The apples are matured in oak vats, and the vinegar is mixed with unpasteurized honey.  Endorsements of honegar have appeared in the national press from arthritis sufferers claiming remarkable relief from pain and immobility of arthritic joints after taking it for several months.