History of the apple cider vinegar America trusts
Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar got its namesake from it’s creator, Paul C. Bragg. Many people know about Bragg’s apple cider vinegar product but they are unaware of the much larger American health legacy that Dr. Bragg left behind. Paul C. Bragg, ND, PhD was born way back in 1895. As a young man of 16 he was diagnosed with tuberculosis. He attempted to heal his ailment through a natural foods and holistic health approach and made a promise to God that if he could heal through these means he would dedicate his life to teaching and helping others improve their health. He overcame the tuberculosis and his life path was set. During the early 1900’s, in the face of a surging processed foods revolution, he was the forefront American champion of using natural, organic live foods as a means to heal, maintain and build the human body into a state of optimal health. He gave lectures, hosted radio shows and TV shows and wrote many publications espousing not only the consumption of natural whole foods but also alternative health practices such as water fasting, breathing techniques and juicing. Paul Bragg was the father of what we now commonly refer to as a “Health Food Store.”
Bragg inspired the career of health and fitness advocates like Jack LaLane (known for his TV fitness show and juicing machine) and was a health consultant for some pretty big names. He worked with Olympic athletes, business giants like J.C. Penny and Dr. Scholl (yes, as in Dr. Scholl’s wart remover) and famous Hollywood stars like Clint Eastwood and Charlton Heston. His work and memory live on through the continued efforts of his daughter-in-law Patricia Bragg. The end of the article will list further information on Paul Bragg, Bragg products and some old archival video footage. Dr. Bragg grew up taking apple cider vinegar as a part of his family’s health regimen. He believed the most health benefits came from drinking raw, unfiltered, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar, as in his product. This natural state of apple cider vinegar would still contain the “mother” which we will explain and discuss below. Let’s take a look at some of the health claims and various uses that apple cider vinegar has been anecdotally used for.
Anecdotal uses and health benefits of ACV
Apple cider vinegar (abbreviated ACV) has been around the block and back. Hippocrates, the father of medicine, espoused vinegar as a miraculous healing agent for internal consumption and topical application. There have been a whole host of health claims made about apple cider vinegar over the years. We’ll take a look at which ones have solid scientific evidence behind them in a bit. Right now I’ll list some of the most common anecdotal uses and health benefits reported for apple cider vinegar.
- Weight loss
- Blood pressure ↓
- Cholesterol lowering
- Skin tonic and acne treatment
- Scalp health, hair regrowth, hair beautification and dandruff control
- Diabetes / blood glucose regulator
- Cancer adjuvant treatment
- Immune system booster
- Yeast infection treatment (vaginal)
- Toenail fungus treatment
- Heartburn / acid reflux treatment
- Digestion enhancer
- Wound cleaning / anti-infective
- Wart removal
- Ear infection treatment
- Head lice removal
- Cleanser of produce and foods
ACV health claims with scientific evidence
Drinking apple cider vinegar has been shown in multiple published scientific studies to aid in weight loss by increasing satiety. Satiety is the sensation of feeling full. One of the biggest obstacles in weight loss is reducing the calories we eat. If you are able to feel full longer after a meal, then you are more likely to eat a lower number of calories throughout the day and lose weight. In a study ACV when taken with a white bread meal (high-glycemic index food) subjects felt fuller longer than those subjects who had not taken ACV. This effect was directly related to the amount of acetic acid present (what gives apple cider vinegar its sour taste).  A Japanese 12-week study in obese patients showed that patients consuming vinegar (15 ml to 30 ml daily) had a significant decrease in body weight, BMI, visceral fat area, waist circumference, and serum triglyceride levels. 
Diabetes – Blood glucose, insulin response, A1c, cholesterol
The strongest evidence for apple cider vinegar is within treating certain diabetes associated parameters. A study showed that after-meal blood glucose levels were decreased in diabetic patients when acetic acid (in vinegar) was co-administered. There was also a decreased insulin response.  Another study concluded that the blood sugar lowering effect was only seen in diabetic patients eating a high-glycemic-index-meal (simple sugars) and not those eating a low-glycemic-index-meal (complex carbohydrates).  Another study showed that type-2 diabetic patients increased their insulin sensitivity after a high carbohydrate meal when supplemented with with vinegar before the meal.  A study conducted with rats demonstrated a significant decrease in hemoglobin A1c, serum triglycerides and LDL cholesterol, while increasing HDL cholesterol in the rat test group supplemented with apple cider vinegar.  In a human study, hemoglobin A1c improvement in type-2 diabetic patients was observed but very marginal (0.16%)  Another study showed a reduction in serum cholesterol and triglycerides when rats eating a high cholesterol diet were supplemented with acetic acid.  It’s not as conclusive as a human study would be but otherwise the study was a pretty convincing finding.
Using it for ear infections (otitis media) has been proven to work in a study where patients received an ear irrigation with 2% acetic acid solution three times per week for the maximum of 3 weeks without antibiotic therapy.  BUT their is an increased risk of damaging the hair cells within the ear (very important little guys).  Not worth it in my opinion.
ACV health claims with weaker evidence
One of the best studies demonstrating anti-tumor activity was a Japanese study that didn’t use apple cider vinegar but a different acetic acid source. They extracted the acetic acid from a traditional Japanese vinegar made from unpolished rice called Kurosu. The study showed a 62% inhibition of colon, lung carcinoma, breast adenocarcinoma, bladder carcinoma and prostate carcinoma cancer cell lines (in vitro at a dose of 0.025%).  This was conducted “in vitro” or in test tubes. Whether these results translate into human results requires further investigation and human studies.
One study showed a reduction in blood pressure in a group of hypertensive rats that were given vinegar (in comparison to the control group of rats that did not). The mechanism behind the blood pressure reduction was thought to be from decreasing angiotensin II (ACE inhibitors like lisinopril are drugs that inhibit the production of angiotensin II which elevate blood pressure).  Human studies have mixed or inconclusive results. It may work for some individuals and not so much for others.
So what about the other health claims?
Produce cleanser | Apple cider vinegar is fantastic for cleaning your produce or other foods that need to be washed of bacteria, pesticides, wax and such. However, for the best results use distilled vinegar with baking soda. You eliminate chemicals and microbes and also increase the shelf life of your produce. Watch my friend Stasha demonstrate this method: Topical anti-infective | I would NOT use it as an anti-infective agent for cuts and burns. There is too much risk that the acetic acid content could cause greater harm than good. Digestion | It DOES work great to aid in digestion. Apple cider vinegar contains acetic acid which gives it the sour, astringent taste. What helps you digest your food is predominantly your stomach acid. Adding apple cider vinegar (because of the acetic acid) will help you digest better and is particularly good at achieving greater calcium absorption. Head lice | A study evaluating 6 different home remedies for head lice (vinegar, isopropyl alcohol, olive oil, mayonnaise, melted butter, and petroleum jelly) showed that none of them were completely effective. However, petroleum jelly did the best job, killing all adults and only leaving behind 6% of the eggs (nits).  The other health benefits have worked for some and not for many others. I would approach these “unproven” health claims with an open mind but with a healthy dose of skepticism. Give them a shot and see if they work for you. I have seen apple cider vinegar work for warts. I have heard it being great for treating acid reflux (counter-intuitive, I know). Many people have tremendous success using it for acne and hair strengthening (just YouTube for examples). Once again, these are probably more dependent on people’s individual physiology and health state so if you give them a try think of it as a hopeful experiment… not a surefire treatment.
Precautions and reccomendations using ACV
Acid Dilution | Apple cider vinegar contains acetic acid, which is as a weak acid. When drinking, always dilute it with water or juice (about a tablespoon to a cup). Be careful leaving undiluted apple cider vinegar on skin and tissues, as the acid could start to irritate and inflame the area. ACV works great as a skin tonic to revitalize and treat acne but be careful applying it. You will want to dilute it in water for most applications. That is a little outside the scope of this article but feel free to research protocols to use if you are interested. Teeth & Rinsing | Even when you drink diluted apple cider vinegar you can easily soften the enamel on your teeth. Make sure you rinse your mouth after drinking apple cider vinegar and wait an hour before brushing your teeth. Tablets/Capsules = NO | I recommend against capsule/tablet forms of apple cider vinegar as the potential for them to become lodged in the throat can cause prolonged exposure to the acetic acid content and cause esophageal burns.  The actual contents of these products are also questionable. Stick to a reliable brand that is organic, raw, unfiltered and unpasteurized like Bragg’s apple cider vinegar. Shake Before Use | Make sure you shake the bottle before using it as the “mother” will have more than likely settled. Read what the “mother” is below. Listen to Your Body | If you find that the ACV doesn’t jive with you don’t keep taking it for a prolonged period of time thinking you must receive the benefits at some point. Despite it being a great health product for many, it may not agree with you. Listen to your body.
How and when should I take apple cider vinegar?
You can incorporate apple cider vinegar into your diet by sprinkling it on salads, which is a great way to also enhance the nutrient absorption of the produce (especially calcium in the dark leafy greens). If you want to take it by itself, as a sort of daily tonic, you should dilute it using a tablespoon (15ml) in about a cup of water. It’s best to take before meals to get all the benefits we’ve discussed. I wouldn’t take more than a tablespoon (15 ml) before meals, three times daily. I’d start out with between a teaspoon (5 ml) to a tablespoon ACV daily and work up from there if you desire. Here’s a video demonstrating how to prepare, drink and rinse apple cider vinegar:
What is the “Mother” in Bragg’s apple cider vinegar?
The short answer is, the cloudy stuff in the bottle that eventually settles at the bottom. Apple cider vinegar production begins with apples that have the juice extracted to be fermented into apple cider. This fermentation occurs from the natural action of various fermenting yeasts and bacteria that are present or introduced into the apple juice. After the apple juice is fermented to produce alcoholic cider, the apple cider is allowed to continue fermenting, turning the alcohol into acetic acid, resulting in vinegar! The word vinegar comes from the French vin aigre, meaning “sour wine.” The “Mother” is the non-toxic collection of fermenting yeasts and bacteria that created or “mothered” the apple cider vinegar. The “Mother” is also said to contain many enzymes, that in combination with phytonutrients present in ACV, are very detoxifying to your body. Distilled vinegars, unlike Bragg’s raw and unfiltered apple cider vinegar, remove the mother and are clear. People will tell you the magic mojo of apple cider vinegar comes from this cloudy mess called the mother. It hasn’t been proven scientifically but it seems reasonable.
Where do I get it? How much does it cost?
You don’t necessarily have to go to a health food store like Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods in order to find Bragg’s ACV. It’s a well-known product and most grocery stores have it available. It usually costs a little under $5 at your local grocery store or health food store for a 16 oz bottle. I haven’t seen them at typical grocery stores like Safeway/Vons but you can buy the large gallon jug from Amazon for under $20 bucks.
More about Paul Bragg and daughter Patricia
Paul Bragg dedicated his life to improving the health and lives of individuals through education, example and beneficial products. We may not have heard of him (I know I had never heard of the guy) but you can’t deny the impact and legacy he left behind. I find history fascinating and I think products like Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar that have such a rich and rooted historical backdrop are really cool stories. Check out this old archival type video footage of Paul Bragg delivering a message on creating an “Ageless Body.” He talks about the importance of taking care of your body and watching what you put into it. It’s kind of a trip seeing such old footage. He gives some great timeless advice.
If you’re still curious about Paul Bragg, Patricia Bragg and the legacy of their company, I would check out the Bragg Health Institute which promotes health and wellness through educational programs and providing research grants.