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Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is really quite versatile. Made from apple cider (hence the name!), the process of making ACV is really quite simple. First the apples are crushed and their liquid is squeezed out. Bacteria and yeast are added to start the fermentation process. The sugars in the liquid are turned into alcohol, then a second fermentation process turns the alcohol into vinegar.

When looking for ACV, it’s important to buy one that’s raw, organic, unpasteurized and unfiltered, and contains the “mother.” The mother is a cobweb-like component you’ll see floating in the ACV that’s composed of strands of proteins, enzymes and beneficial bacteria.

While ACV has demonstrated numerous health benefits, here are five great uses of this awesome elixir.

Digestion

Drinking ACV in a glass of water before your meals can help improve your digestion naturally. The ACV helps to stimulate your digestive juices so you’re better able to break down your food. Over time, your digestion should improve and you’ll assimilate more of your food. Additionally, ACV soothes the entire GI tract and helps prevent gas and bloating. It also stimulates peristalsis, which can help relieve occasional constipation.

Reflux/GERD

Low stomach acid can often lead to issues such as heartburn, reflux and GERD. While supplementing with betaine hydrochloride (betaine HCl) is usually the go-to for this issue (especially if you have very low levels), drinking ACV in water can also help improve low stomach acid. If you do drink ACV, be sure to dilute it with water, as it’s very strong and can irritate the lining of your esophagus. Simply add between 1 teaspoon and 1 tablespoon of ACV to 10-12 ounces of water.

Skin Conditions

ACV may also be effective in treating acne and other skin conditions, as it is antibacterial and helps balance the skin’s pH levels. Using ACV both internally and topically can be very beneficial. Be sure to do a skin-patch test on your neck or arm before applying it to your face. If you have sensitive skin, it may be necessary to dilute the ACV with water.

Hair

The high acidity and powerful enzymes in ACV also support a healthy scalp. ACV can help balance your scalp pH, remove product build-up, reduce dandruff and prevent hair loss. Simply apply a small amount of ACV to your scalp after shampooing and rinse out for healthier, shinier hair.

Pathogens

Thanks to its antibacterial, anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties, ACV may also help kill certain pathogenic bacteria, fungus, and candida. It has also shown promise in reducing inflammation caused by certain infections. For an extra 1-2-3 punch, you can also try adding some ACV, cinnamon, cayenne pepper and raw honey to 12-16 ounces of water for a nice detox drink!

What are some of your favorite ways to use ACV?