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Arthritis and Vinegar

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Vinegars are acidic solutions and they can help dissolve hardened substances in the joint to relieve joint pain and inflammation.

What is Vinegar?

Vinegar is a natural liquid containing acetic acid and water. It is a mildly acidic solution and the acetic acid is formed from the fermentation of ethanol by acetic acid bacteria. These bacteria form a froth on vinegar solution and are used to start the next batch in slowly fermented vinegar.

Vinegar is widely used as a solvent for industrial, domestic, and medical uses.

There are many varieties of vinegar. Each variety of vinegar is named after the source of the ethanol used in its fermentation. For example, apple cider vinegar is produced from cider or apple must. Other common varieties of vinegar include white vinegar and distilled vinegar.

Vinegar is used for soothing sunburns, lowering cholesterol levels, and controlling blood glucose levels. They are also potent antimicrobial solutions and possess a broad-spectrum bactericidal activity which is credited to the acidity of the solution.

The sour taste of vinegar is due to its acetic acid and malic acid content.

Organic Acids in Vinegar
  • Acetic acid
  • Malic acid
  • Gallic acid
  • Syringic acid
  • Coumaric acid
  • Sinapic acid
  • Vanillic acid
  • Caffeic acid.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is the most common form of vinegar used in the management of arthritis. It has a pH between 4.25 and 5 and it should not be ingested without first diluting it.

Beyond the acid content of all vinegar, apple cider vinegar also contains potassium, phosphorus, chlorine, sodium, magnesium, calcium, iron, sulfur, and other trace elements.

While apple cider vinegar is effective for treating arthritis, long-term intake of high doses of vinegar can actually promote the elimination of potassium from the body and cause osteoporosis by reducing bone density.

The use of apple cider vinegar should also be discouraged in diabetic patients. This is because the chromium content of the vinegar can interfere with insulin levels.

How Apple Cider Vinegar Works for Arthritis

There are some possible mechanisms by which apple cider vinegar can help improve arthritis symptoms.

Apple cider vinegar can dissolve the calcium deposited around the joints. These calcium deposits restrict the articulation of the joint and reduce the range of movement possible. Therefore, with the increased accumulation of calcium at the joints, they become stiffer and more painful.

Strangely, this form of calcium deposition is not caused by excessive intake of calcium but actually by calcium deficiency.

Calcium is not the only substance that can accumulate at the joints and cause damage.

Acids derived from food and drinks can crystallize between joints and damage the synovial membrane. When these crystals tear the membrane, they encourage the leakage of the synovial fluid which reduces the lubrication at the joints and leads to the painful inflammation associated with arthritis.

Some active ingredients in apple cider vinegar can dissolve these acid crystals and prevent further deposition on bones and joints.

Apple cider vinegar can also contribute to relieving arthritic symptoms through its antibacterial activities. Since rheumatoid arthritis can be caused by streptococcal infections, apple cider vinegar is capable of wiping out these bacteria and preventing bacterial degradation of the joint.

Apple cider vinegar is also known to possess some antioxidant properties. Given the number of active ingredients in the vinegar, it is possible that more than a few of them can help protect the joint from autoimmune damage.

The antioxidant property of apple cider vinegar can also contribute to the detoxification of the body. Toxins are harmful free radicals such as reactive oxygen species which can damage the protective lining around the joints.

Clinical Support for Anti-Arthritic Properties of Apple Cider Vinegar

While there are not many scientific studies done to determine the efficacy of apple cider vinegar in the treatment of arthritis, a few studies have demonstrated this efficacy.

A 2004 study done by some Iranian researchers evaluated the immediate and long-term benefits of apple cider vinegar for relieving the pain and inflammation associated with arthritis.

Using animal models and standard tests for pain and inflammation, these researchers showed that apple cider vinegar adequately controlled chronic pain and inflammation and that the effects were dependent on the doses of apple cider vinegar used.

The researchers believed that the ability of apple cider vinegar to reduce pain and inflammation was probably due to the vitamins B1 and B12 it contains.

How to Use Apple Cider Vinegar for Arthritis

Apple cider vinegar can be used internally and externally in the treatment of arthritis. It should be sufficiently diluted before it is taken.

To use apple cider vinegar topically on the skin, it should first be mixed with olive oil or coconut oil and then massaged on the inflamed arthritic joints.

The simplest way to prepare apple cider vinegar is to add a few teaspoons of the vinegar to a tall glass of water. This solution should be drunk preferably with a straw and the mixture taken at least two times daily.

The combination of honey and apple cider vinegar is commonly used for treating arthritis. These two medicinal liquids are combined in different ratios. A commercial preparation of the mixture, called honeygar, combines 4 parts apple cider vinegar with 1 part honey.

However, it is possible to prepare your own mixture of honey and apple cider vinegar at home.

At the beginning of treatment, 1 tablespoon each of honey and apple cider vinegar should be mixed with a glass of warm water. This should be taken once daily and slowly increased to three times daily if the vinegar is well tolerated.

Thereafter, the honey-vinegar ratio can be changed to 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and 1 teaspoon of honey.

Honey is mixed with apple cider vinegar for a couple of reasons.

First, it sweetens the mixture and masks the sour taste of apple cider vinegar. Secondly, it contributes essential minerals and vitamins to the rehabilitation of weakened joints.

Next Article: How to Stop Arthritis