How many uses does vinegar have? One website lists 62, but others propose 131, or 254, or even 1,001 uses—many of them health-related—for this ancient and versatile liquid.
There’s something mythic about vinegar. Made from apples, grains, potatoes, molasses or wine, it’s handy not only for salads, but for many household tasks. Thanks to its acidity, vinegar kills bacteria in foods, so it’s an excellent preservative and is used for pickling. As a cleanser, it dissolves soap film and rust, as well as some stains in clothing; it cleans coffee makers, refrigerators and counter tops.
But will vinegar clear your sinuses, combat colds and arthritis, help you lose weight, lower cholesterol and blood sugar, aid your liver, improve digestion, treat dandruff and dry skin, remove warts, cure hiccups, detoxify the body and improve your health in dozens of other ways, as claimed? There’s no scientific support for these claims, except for some small studies suggesting that consuming vinegar may help reduce spikes in blood sugar (after a big meal, for instance). And ear drops containing vinegar (usually with boric acid) can indeed help prevent or treat swimmer’s ear.
Vinegar’s main ingredient (besides water) is acetic acid; it contains no vitamins and just a minuscule amount of minerals. At least it’s harmless and inexpensive. Use it in food and around the house, not as medicine.