A Brief History of Vinegar

Apples and apple cider vinegar on a table.

The no-poo approach uses alternatives such as apple cider vinegar, water only, and baking soda to clean your hair without damaging it. (Image: via Pixabay)

The history of vinegar is very interesting. Vinegar is one of the essential seasonings in food preparation. It is also good for health maintenance, as well as acting as a medicine. The raw materials for vinegar include glutinous rice, sorghum, rice, corn, wheat, sugar, and wine.

According to historical records, brewing vinegar in China goes back more than 3,000 years to the Zhou Dynasty (1046-256 BCE), when brewers made it for the emperor and his family.

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In Recipes for Fifty-Two Ailments, an ancient and highly respected Chinese medical text, the practice of using vinegar was first recorded. In the text, 17 out of the 52 treatments use vinegar, including the treatment of sores, fevers, detoxification, stopping the flow of body fluids in the lower limbs, and restricting the flow of blood from a wound.

According to Shennong Bencaojing (also known as The Classic of Herbal Medicine), vinegar is a mild, non-toxic acid. It has the ability to help with sores, dispersing the source of chills in the body, improving the appetite, supporting the liver, and strengthening bones. Vinegar can also aid in the digestion of oily foods, detoxification of alcohol, and the removal of bacterial toxins present in seafood.

The history of vinegar goes back over 3,000 years.
Vinegar is one of the essential seasonings in food preparation. (Image: EvolvingScenes/ Pixabay / CC0 1.0 )

In ancient China, vinegar vapor was often used to hasten the delivery of a baby. If the mother developed complications, such as high blood pressure or lightheadedness, a strong vinegar vapor was used to increase blood circulation and revive the mother.

Modern medicine has validated the efficacy of vinegar in anti-oxidation, diabetes management, reducing cholesterol, lowering blood pressure, and preventing cardiovascular disease. A number of studies reported in the Diabetes Care Journal indicate that the use of vinegar can support the body in several ways to manage type 2 diabetes.

Vinegar is also helpful for weight reduction. Researchers conducted a study by asking a group of adults to consume 2 tablespoons ( 30 ml) of vinegar every night before sleep. The study group could eat and drink normally. In four weeks, study group reportedly lost weight. Experts believe that vinegar works to suppress the appetite while reducing the rise in blood sugar after a meal.

Add a large spoon of salt and about a quarter cup of of baking soda to water and bring it to a boil. Soak your feet in the cooled but still hot solution. (Image: pixabay / CC0 1.0)
Modern medicine has validated the efficacy of vinegar in anti-oxidation, diabetes management, reducing cholesterol, lowering blood pressure, and preventing cardiovascular disease. (Image: pixabay / CC0 1.0)

While vinegar consumption has the benefits of reducing cholesterol, lowering blood pressure, preventing chronic diseases, and maintaining fitness, there is one group of people who should not consume vinegar. Since acid is easily adsorbed by ligaments and tendons, people with muscular ailments — such as cramps and stiffness of the limbs — should not consume vinegar. It is also recommended that people should take advice from their healthcare practitioner before taking vinegar for any health condition.

Translated by Jean Chen

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