"NOT FOR ME!" wrote one correspondent as "I have found it leaving my gut feeling as if I had eaten sand paper; I was under the impression that it would ease/prevent the symptoms of arthritis?"
Ah well, this is a classic case of "what might work for some, doesn't work for others and/or just because it's natural doesn't mean it's good for you" Apple Cider Vinegar is quite capable of irritating an already sensitive stomach, it's pretty acidic and often histaminic, especially with 'the mother' remaining intact. Excess histamine can induce over-production of stomach acid as a result. ACV's reputation for helping with arthritis came from its ability to help some people with low stomach acid to produce more; either by providing a LITTLE irritation-as-stimulation or providing an acidic starting point, much like herbal 'digestiv' bitters. Since arthritis has poor digestion within its multi-factorial causes, if digestive competence is improved by taking ACV, less foreign material gets into the blood stream to cause deposits, irritation, inflammation, deformation and pain. I hope to return to arthritis another time and discuss the role of endotoxin in the lower bowel too.
But, for now, if one doesn't tolerate apple cider vinegar internally, it can still be useful as an ingredient in a warm hand-bath (for arthritic fingers) as with repeated use it has some topical effect at reducing deposits and inflammation directly through skin absorption. About a capful of ACV in a small bowl of warm water and a tsp of olive oil (to prevent dryness) and a 15 minute soak should do it - but repeatedly, daily to begin with - it's rarely a quick fix. Epsom salt or bicarb hand-baths all have merit here too, and may be used on a rotational basis with the ACV version.
Or you can thwack your hands with nettles every day, a counter-irritant technique to reduce pain which the Romans swore by (swore at?). Repeat ACV hand-baths however, might be more preferable and nettles get zapped at frosty times (thankfully?).
PS. BICARB COMMENTS
I have also had a few people tell me that Carol's post on Bicarb and reflux was useful to know. In my experience, I can recall at least 3 people presenting to Emergency with severe neck and chest pain thinking they were having a heart attack, when it was actually a bout of nasty indigestion. The pain of indigestion/reflux can be severe, and an irritated state can actually change the heart rhythm temporarily too. So it's good to have the bicarb remedy to hand. Needless to say, if it doesn't quell the pain, chew up an aspirin and present to Emergency for further assistance pronto!
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