Vinegar has been used for centuries as a health tonic with a variety of medical uses. It has been used as a treatment for allergies, flu, sore throat, acid reflux, gout and other ailments. The use of vinegar as a medical treatment regained fashionable status in the 1950s with its promotion by Dr. D.C. Jarvis M.D., who publicized the benefits of apple cider vinegar as a health tonic.
Vinegar can be used as an antiseptic to treat a variety of infectious and noninfectious conditions. Vinegar has been used for this medical purpose in the treatment of boils, acne and minor cuts, scrapes and burns. The antiseptic nature of vinegar also has seen it used as a hand wash.
Vinegars such as apple cider can provide supplemental minerals for the human body; these include potassium, calcium, copper and iron. One of the plus points of consuming apple cider vinegar for supplemental iron is that, unlike cooked red meats, vinegar contains no cholesterol, sodium or saturated fats.
Apple cider vinegar often is used a treatment for arthritis. Usually a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar is mixed with a teaspoon of honey and taken three times a day. Deposits of uric acid crystals can form between the joints and in muscles causing rheumatism; these deposits are said to be broken up and dissolved by the honey and apple cider vinegar mix. Taken over a long period of time, this mixture also is said to dissolve bone spurs.
Indigestion and heartburn are two common conditions treated with vinegar. The acid in vinegar often rules it out of use for indigestion. However, the human body often produces less acid as it ages, and the symptoms of too little acid in the stomach often are the same as high acid levels. If the body is producing too little stomach acid, a supplement of vinegar can aid digestion of food and relieve the painful symptoms of heartburn and indigestion.
Fungal infections affecting the fingernails can be treated with just a few teaspoons of vinegar mixed into a bowl of water. The affected fingers should be soaked in the vinegar infused water. This also is a good cure for dry skin on the fingers and hands. Fungal infections of the toenails can be treated in a similar way to those affecting fingernails: Infected toes should be soaked in a mix of 1 part vinegar to 1 part warm water. This mix also is a good treatment of athlete's foot.
For the treatment of a sore throat, a tablespoon of vinegar should be mixed with 8 ounces of warm water. This mixture should be gargled every hour before being swallowed. Another symptom of colds and flu is the buildup of mucus in the throat; to break up this mucus, one tablespoon of equal parts vinegar and honey should be swallowed.