Probably in most households today a bottle of vinegar could be located in any kitchen cabinet, as vinegar has become a beloved staple domestic item. Its aroma alone conjures up memories of the fun of dyeing Easter eggs, since the hard-boiled eggs dipped in vinegar held their color better. It is perhaps the oldest healing home remedy, used as an antibiotic and antiseptic in ancient times by the Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians. An early Assyrian medical text describes an application of vinegar to treat ear pain. In biblical times it was used to dress wounds and infectious sores. During the U.S. Civil War vinegar was credited with saving the lives of thousands of soldiers, applied routinely as a disinfectant on wounds.
The Edgar Cayce readings mention apple cider vinegar in over one hundred documents, recommending it as an application for local massages and packs (often combined with salt), for sunburn, in baths, and as an ingredient in a hair rinse (one reading). Nearly fifty readings caution against ingesting it in one’s diet, in contrast to its frequent use as a spice for salads, a weight-loss aid, and an alkalizer for the body. Yet enthusiasts claim a long list of ailments that reportedly can be cured or prevented by taking apple cider vinegar internally.
The Making of Vinegar
Essentially vinegar is spoiled wine, most likely accidentally discovered about ten thousand years ago around the time wine was discovered. Its word origin may be French: vinaigre (vin – wine; aigre – sour). Technically it is an acid liquid made from most any mildly sweet or alcoholic beverage, such as wine, cider, or beer, though health benefits are usually linked to vinegar made from apple cider. In times past the elaborate process of souring apple cider into vinegar often had magical overtones. However, a tiny microorganism, the vinegar bacillus, produces what is known as an “acetous fermentation,” creating water and acetic acid, which gives vinegar its characteristic tart taste. Two separate and distinct fermentation processes are required to make vinegar. In the first sugar is changed to alcohol, and in the second alcohol is changed to acetic acid. This process was thought to confer a special healing ability on the end product, hence its reported traditional use as an enduring health remedy.
Several representative extracts from the Cayce readings attest to its multiple uses.
- As a pack (usually with salt) for painful strains, sprains, to prepare for osteopathic adjustments, or to relieve tension:
“…apply the heavy salt packs sprinkled or dampened with pure apple vinegar. The reaction of this acid with the sodium chloride [table salt] is to produce to the system a drawing from the glands and from the soft tissue of the body those poisons in the form of a perspiration…” (Cayce)
- As a local massage for joint pain, strained or torn ligaments and muscles, to help dissolve fluids accumulated at ends of broken bones (Cayce), or to strengthen bruised tendons (Cayce):
“Do use the salt and vinegar as a massage over hip, down the sciatic nerve and under the knee. This would be done at least once or twice each day; not using a saturated solution, but rather dampen the salt with the vinegar, see? and use only Apple Vinegar, not that which is synthetically made.” (Cayce)
- For sunburn:
“(Q) Any special combination to be used to prevent serious results from sunburn?
(A) There is no better than plain, pure apple vinegar!” (Cayce)
- In bath water:
“…bathe the hips and [pubis] with water containing vinegar and salt, not too strong but just enough to strengthen the body from the over strained condition of the system [vulvitis]…” (Cayce)
Consistently the Cayce readings advise not to put vinegar on raw salads or to eat any food seasoned or canned with vinegar, thus avoiding highly seasoned foods or foods treated with vinegar, such as pickles and pickled beets or carrots. “For the basis of such acid is not good in the body-structural forces.” (Cayce) With some individuals vinegar was irritating to the digestion or would produce an overacidity in the stomach. The majority of these excerpts, however, simply state to avoid it, no specific reason given. “Never any preparations, as salads, carrying vinegar — unless wine vinegar is used,” one individual (Cayce) was told. Of course, a number of these people had health problems that conceivably could be exacerbated by ingesting vinegar. Yet it still remains a stable substance and permanent fixture in the kitchen cabinet.
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Elaine Hruska is a therapist at the A.R.E. Houston Spa and former teacher at the Cayce/Reilly* School of Massotherapy. This article is reprinted with permission by Venture Inward Newsletter, Virginia Beach, VA.