Let’s start with a little bit of history. The word vinegar comes from the French Vin Aigre-meaning sour wine. It is produced by fermenting grains or fruits (any source of natural sugar) with yeast to form alcohol and them further exposing this alcoholic liquid to bacteria from acetobacter species to form acetic acid which gives vinegar a strong and sour taste. Historically vinegar was used as a beverage and preservative, or as a condiment. Apple was one of the most common sources of alcohol commonly known as cider, which is mentioned in various historical literature starting from the time of Romans on the British island. Apple cider or Cider is still one of the most favored alcoholic drink in the UK, even though most of them are not made naturally, and has an excessive quantity of added sugar and flavoring chemicals. As per the USDA food composition database, unfiltered apple cider vinegar with mother does not have any special nutritional value. Even with its sour taste, there are zero vitamins and only an insignificant amount of minerals in it.
The benefits of ACV
There are several benefits attributed to ACV and its usage has exponentially increased in recent times. ACV is considered as a superfood with versatile usage starting from external application for acne to digestive complaints. Since apple and its fermented form was not traditionally used in India, it is not mentioned in any of the classical texts. I’m going to attempt to analyse ACV based on its various attributes and observed benefits using the ayurvedic parameters of Rasa (taste), guna (quality), Virya (energy), Vipaka (effect of digestion) and Prabhava (other unexplainable impacts). The most common area where the benefits are seen is indigestion. Externally ACV is used for hair, insect bites and minor burns.
Ayurvedic view on apple and apple cider
Apple in the Sanskrit language is called Swaduphala and its Rasa or taste is Sweet and Astringent. Guna or predominant quality is – Laghu or light and Ruksha or Dry. Virya or its energy is more cooling and Its metabolic effect of Vipaka is Sweet. Based on these qualities, apples in its raw form have a Vata increasing effect due to being cold, dry and light and Pitta balancing effect due to cooling effect. The fermentation process usually reduces the sweet taste of a food ingredient and changes it to sour and increases the warming quality of that food. Most wines even if it is consumed chilled will increase circulation to the periphery and make the person consuming feel warm and red. This is one of the reasons why the fermentation process became popular as part of the cuisine of most cold and temperate countries. The fermentation process changes the apple juice to warming, light, an acidic and sour drink which has an effect of reducing both vata and kapha. This change also makes it have an aggravating effect on Pitta.
Apple cider vinegar will increase the production of digestive juices and help reduce indigestion. The alcohol and acetic acid combination will act as an antimicrobial externally. Due to its acidic effect, it is not recommended in pitta imbalance and high concentration can cause skin burns and ulcers in the stomach. The weight-reducing effect is due to its balancing effect on Kapha and its accelerating effect on the metabolism.
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Word of Caution
When in doubt stay away from Apple cider vinegar. There are other digestive and natural microbial spices and herbs which is far less dangerous like ginger or fennel. If you are a fan of ACV already, do not take it regularly for an extended period. Take it for a short while and well diluted. In case you feel any signs of burning sensation stop immediately.