I didn’t mind mud on my knees, and I was used to twigs and burrs In my hair. But I really hated to smell bad.

I survived the years of wearing an asphidity bag draped around my neck to ward off evil and to keep me well. It was the scent that scared away every germ and monster that ever lived in the mountains. I even survived the red flannel cloth covered in Vicks salve that adorned my chest when I had croup. But I could not endure the smell of apple cider vinegar. Winters remind me of the scent, because that's when I was dosed heavily with every drop of preventative medicine Aunt Bett could find, apple cider vinegar being at the top of her list of preventatives.

Aunt Bett said that apple cider vinegar was a cure for all things. She told me that if I took a spoonful and mixed it in my juice every day of my life, I’d live to be a hundred. I told her if I had to drink another drop of it I wouldn’t live to be six. She made me drink it anyway.

One day when she wasn’t looking, I added raw honey to my orange juice/apple cider vinegar mix. It wasn’t so bad after that, and I must have had a dose of it every time I spent a day with Aunt Bett. I am pretty old now, and reasonably healthy, so I guess it didn’t hurt a thing.

Vinegar has an interesting history. According to websites I have visited, its recorded history starts around 5000 BC in Babylonia. They were using the fruit of the date palm to make wine, and since making vinegar requires only one step more than making wine, it’s likely that one step just naturally followed another. The Babylonians used it as a food preservative as well as serving it with dinner. Residues of vinegar have also been found in ancient Egyptian urns. China mentions vinegar as early as 1200 BC.

During Biblical times, vinegar is mentioned as a food flavoring and as a medicine in both the Old and New Testaments. In ancient Greece, around 400 BC, Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, used it mixed with honey for healing and for energy.

ImageIn America, vinegar began with the apple, not so much the native crabapples, though they were eaten in those early years, too. The Europeans who came to America, brought with them their own apple seeds and as a result, dessert and cider apples were introduced.

The population increased in North America, homesteads were built, and apple trees were planted on many of them. The benefits of all the apples that were produced were many.

It is only natural that apple cider became popular. In the 1700s, many farms owned and operated cider mills and presses. The reason for this popularity was the health benefits provided by apple cider vinegar. It was used during times of war as an antiseptic as well as a source of energy, it was given to pets and work horses as a tonic. It soothed sunburn and eased the pain of insect bites. It became a household cleaner, an antiseptic. In those early days it became a cure for all ills.

And to Aunt Bett, that’s what it was, a cure-all. She must have tried it on me for every ailment I had. It was the final rinse in my hair to make it shine and to take the curl out. (I am here to tell you the latter failed miserably.) She used it to clean her kitchen. She poured it on my cat to kill the fleas. She bathed my dog in it when a skunk won a round with the dog. She used it when she made pickles. I think I smelled of apple cider vinegar for the first twenty years of my life. I really did hate that smell.

Today it has many household uses as well. It can kill weeds and it can clean coffeepots. I’ll bet you can list as many reasons for keeping apple cider vinegar on hand as I can. Pharmacological studies tell us it also works well to lower high cholesterol and high blood pressure. It slows the growth rate of cancer cells, and can help with diabetes. It helps those who are trying for weight loss.

There are cautions that must be mentioned. Apple cider vinegar must be diluted when ingested because it can cause tooth enamel loss as well as lower bone density. High usage may cause low potassium levels, and create problems in the tissue of the throat. It can also act adversely with prescribed medicines.

You know, it might work well on lots of things but it might not be the best product to use. It is a disinfectant, but it isn’t as effecImagetive as common cleaners according to some studies. In other words, it does help ease the sting of jellyfish, but not as well as hot water. When using it, we might be wise to keep that in mind.

Like you, I use it for many things at my house, cooking and cleaning are right at the top of that list. I also use it to ease sunburn. And every time I do, I think of Aunt Bett and that drink she gave me to swallow. She never did know I added honey to it.

I think if we use it as a salad dressing, we’ll be fine, but as a daily supplement, it’s a little risky unless prescribed by a doctor. Remember, it is a supplement and comes in many forms, but supplements are not regulated by FDA, so please be careful.

And I tell you truly, do not believe anyone who tells you that apple cider vinegar straightens curly hair.

The thumbnail photo is from Plant Files, contributed by our friend Big_Red. The photos of the apple blossom and the apple cider vinegar belong to the author.