I know that the readers of Insider’s Heath are a savvy bunch, so I’m sure you won’t be surprised to hear that vinegar can be used for so much more than just salad dressing! Recently I was reminded of the amazing versatility of vinegar – the same kind you probably have in your kitchen pantry right now!

The many uses of vinegar probably reach back to pioneer days. Dr. D.C. Jarvis of Vermont published a best-selling book in 1958, called Folk Medicine, extolling the virtues of vinegar for just about every ailment known to humans and animals alike! Well, Dr. Jarvis may have gone a bit overboard, but his enthusiasm is in the right place.

For example, white vinegar is one of the best all-around household cleaners. It’s non-toxic and environmentally safe. You can mix it with half water in a spray bottle, and use it to clean stove tops… sinks… and counters – and it’s a powerful disinfectant, too! Use vinegar and baking soda as an effective cleanser and whitener.

If you have a favorite blouse or shirt with body odor clinging to it, sprinkle a small amount of vinegar on the armpits and iron it. Voila! Works like magic! It also removes many stains from clothes and curtains. Add a cup of it to laundry water to brighten colors and remove stains. (No, your laundry won’t smell like vinegar)!

Your Handy Guide to Vinegars

White or Clear Vinegar is the cheapest! It’s made from grains and has a strong flavor. Recommended for cleaning or pickling but not for cooking or ingestion for health purposes.

Apple Cider Vinegar – the most common vin-egar used for health remedies! It’s made from apples… it’s mild… and it’s a great addition for great-tasting recipes!

Wine Vinegar – it’s made from wine (surprise, surprise!) and varies as much in taste and aroma as wine does. It varies in price according to the wine it’s made from. Use for marinating meat and in salad dressing.

Balsamic Vinegar – my first choice for salad dressing and marinades! This wine vinegar is aged in aromatic wood barrels. It’s much sweeter than other vinegars. The real stuff is aged for 12 years and amazingly delicious (but pricey). Many companies offer delicious balsamic vinegar that is aged for about 4 years. Check your health food store or gourmet short for the brands made in Italy and read the label. Two of my favorite brands are Dal Raccolto and Barengo.

What Can Vinegar Do for Your Health?

Vinegar contains small amounts of minerals and amino acids. It has about two calories per tablespoon. The active ingredient in vinegar is acetic acid. The high acidity of vinegar makes it an excellent meat ten- derizer and preservative. It’s used in mayonnaise and to pickle all kinds of foods. Rice vinegar is an essential part of sushi – adding the vinegar to rice helps kill harmful bacteria.

Vinegar is extremely powerful stuff! Here are some great health remedies that are safe and effective…

Digestion: Take 1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar mixed with 1/3 cup water with dinner. Or take after a heavy or greasy meal to aid digestion.

Nasal congestion: Heat a 50-50 mix of vinegar (white or apple cider) and water. Inhale the vapors.

Athlete’s foot and fingernail fungus: Nightly, soak your feet or hands in a 50-50 solution of vinegar and water for 10 minutes. The fungus should disappear within 7 to 10 days!

Insect bites and sunburn: Works wonders to stop the pain and itching of sunburn… insect bites… and jellyfish stings. Apply straight apple cider vinegar or white vinegar directly to the affected area or use a compress.

Clears up vaginal yeast infections: A vinegar douche of 1⁄2 to 1 cup vinegar to 1 quart of water works better than over-the-counter remedies for yeast infections. Douche twice daily until the itching is gone and the vaginal mucus is normal.

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