This article has been excerpted from my upcoming book, Dr. Berkowsky’s At-Home Health And Beauty Spa. This totally unique book, teaches how, for very little cost, using traditional naturopathic and essential oil know-how (plus some basic items such as skin brushes, lemons and other fruits and vegetables, apple cider vinegar, a juicer, essential oils, an open window, a backyard, a shower head and a bathtub), anyone can turn one’s home into a first class health and beauty spa. Why travel to a fancy spa and spend a lot of money, when you get the same benefits at home for a tiny fraction of the cost.
Today’s article represents Part I of a two part series focusing on the potential health and beauty benefits offered by the use (internal and external) of unfiltered apple cider vinegar. Part I focuses on a general overview of apple cider vinegar as well as the external application of apple cider vinegar after sunbathing, for muscle relaxation, and for care of the hair and scalp.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar, produced through the fermentation of fresh apple cider is a rich source of minerals (particularly potassium), vitamins, enzymes and amino acids. Apple cider vinegar is a potent and versatile healing substance which may prove of value when taken internally in the treatment of a wide range of internal conditions including: obesity; fatigue; diabetes; headache; cataracts; sore throat; heart weakness; blood pressure abnormality; high cholesterol levels; asthma; cough; common cold; nasal and/or sinus congestion; digestive weakness; indigestion; hiccups; food poisoning; peptic ulcers; gastrointestinal spasms; constipation; diarrhea; gall stones; bladder infections; kidney stones; prostate enlargement; vaginal yeast infection; osteoporosis; arthritis.
Externally it has been used to treat: athlete’s foot; bleeding wounds; burns; corns; calluses, cuts and abrasions; dandruff; foot odor; hair loss; Herpes simplex infection; insect bites and stings; muscle soreness; poison ivy or poison oak rash; shingles; sunburn; “swimmer’s ear”; varicose veins.
Apple cider vinegar is an excellent après-soleil (“after sun”) application. When one sunbathes, it should only be for brief periods of time before 9 a.m. and after 3 p.m. when the sun’s rays are less powerful in order to avoid sunburn (a predisposing factor in skin cancer). However, if you have gone to the beach and overdone and the skin is reddened and painful, you may want to try sponging the skin with apple cider vinegar and let it dry. This may help relieve the pain and prevent blistering and peeling.
2-3 cups of apple cider vinegar can added to warm bath to enhance the muscle relaxing and restorative effects of that procedure. You may also wish to try sponging the skin with apple cider vinegar after the Alternate Hot and Cold Shower (this shower therapy is discussed in my article on hypothyroidism) (either undiluted or, if this feels too strong, try 1 part vinegar : 1 part water).
Good quality apple cider vinegar is made from organically grown apples and aged in wooden barrels. It should be pungent and moderately dark brown and when held up to the light you should see a cobweb like formation, called the “mother” suspended in the liquid. The presence of the “mother” is evidence of the vinegar’s naturalness.
One should only use whole, unfiltered, un-distilled apple cider vinegar. Clear commercial grade apple cider vinegar, which favors eye appeal over nutrition, has had the “mother” removed via steam distillation. Distilling, a high heat process that turns the apple cider vinegar to steam, not only destroys all the vinegar’s natural enzymes and toxin-neutralizing malic acid, but also eliminates most of its health-building minerals and vitamin content. Purchase your apple cider vinegar from a health food store. It should be unfiltered, opaque rather than clear, contain the “mother” and be produced from organically grown apples.
Scalp and Hair Treatment with ACV
Unfiltered apple cider vinegar can be used as an excellent treatment for both the hair and facial skin. As regards the hair, apple cider vinegar is cleansing, gives the hair more body and luster and reduces hair-loss. It also reduces itching scalp and dandruff by destroying the bacteria and/or fungi that clog hair follicles.
To treat dandruff: Skin-brush the scalp using my Vital Chi Skin-Brushing System scalp brushing technique. Saturate the hair and scalp with undiluted apple cider vinegar. Then wrap the head with a towel and keep it in place for 1 hour. Then wash the hair with a natural, herbal shampoo that is suitable for your hair type. Finish with an apple cider vinegar rinse consisting of 1 part vinegar : 1-2 parts water to flush out soap residue and leave the hair soft and lustrous. This final vinegar rinse can also help prevent frizzing of permanent-treated hair, brighten dark hair and bring out highlights in blond hair.
Another approach to using apple cider vinegar as a hair-cleanser/rejuvenator is to saturate the hair and scalp with half-strength apple cider vinegar and allow it to remain for 3 minutes before shampooing the hair. You then have the option of following with shampoo and the after-shampoo vinegar rinse or simply rinsing the hair first with warm water and then finishing with a cold water rinse. Sometimes, especially during the summer, when we are doing outdoor hydrotherapies, my wife and I have used apple cider vinegar as our “shampoo” and find that it leaves the hair and scalp clean and vibrant.
You may wish to add 5-6 drops of rosemary oil (Rosmarinus officinalis) into the quantity of apple cider vinegar used for hair cleansing and conditioning. Rosemary increases peripheral circulation, stimulates circulation and metabolism of skin layers and is commonly used to treat dandruff and other scalp disorders as well as hair loss and baldness.
Other useful essential oils in this reference include: cedarwood (Cedrus atlantica), lavender (Lavendula officinalis) and tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia). Cedarwood (Cedrus atlantica) exerts a tonic action upon the hair and scalp and may prove useful in the treatment of hair loss, dandruff and scalp seborrhea. Lavender is a good hair tonic that may slow down hair loss. Tea tree is a powerful antiseptic oil which is a specific for dry scalp and dandruff. You can experiment with various mixtures of these oils, but the total number of drops of essential used during an application still should not exceed 5-6.
Important Note: This article is for informational purposes only and, as each person is unique, is not meant as a prescription. Those with sensitive skin or active skin conditions or scalp conditions, should seek the counsel of a qualified health-care practitioner to determine the advisability of apple cider vinegar use in his or her case.