The Truth About Apple Cider Vinegar
Vinegar: A Natural Approach to Avian Management
By Wanda Barras
Many herbalists recommend the use of raw, unpasteurized, unheated, organic apple cider vinegar as an important dietary ingredient for humans, farm animals and pets, including birds. The Encyclopedia of Natural Pet Care describes apple cider vinegar in this way: "Long a folk remedy, cider vinegar has been shown to improve the health of dairy cows, horses, dogs and other animals. It reduces common infections, aids whelping, improves stamina, prevents muscle fatigue after exercise, increases resistance to disease and protects against food poisoning. Cider vinegar is rich in the vitamins, minerals and trace elements found in apples, especially potassium; it normalizes acid levels [pH] in the stomach, improves digestion and the assimilation of nutrients, reduces intestinal and fecal odors, helps cure constipation, alleviates some of the symptoms of arthritis and helps prevent bladder stones and urinary tract infections."
Vinegar Through The Ages
Vinegar has been used to cure ailments for centuries. For hundreds of years, folk medicine practitioners have recommended daily doses of apple cider vinegar, not only for specific medical problems, but also for overall food health. In Asia vinegar is called the friend of Chinese herbs because it is often used to process herbal preparations. It is also successfully used in modern Chinese medicine.
Historically, the origin of vinegar was never specifically noted. Vinegar was probably discovered when one of our ancestors found that wine exposed to the air would turn sour, thereby creating vinegar. It is among the oldest of foods and medicines know to man. For its healing ways, vinegar has been used for thousands of years. In 400 B.C, Hypocrites, known as the father of medicine, treated patients with vinegar, making it one of the world's first medicines. Throughout biblical times, vinegar was successfully used to treat infections and wounds. For centuries medical textbooks have listed various ways to use vinegar. These uses include everything from keeping a sharp mind to purifying the waters of the body and to easing pain and alleviating dozens of other ailments. Modern laboratory analysis verifies the antibacterial and antiseptic properties of vinegar. Many of the old-time uses are just as applicable now as they were centuries ago. (Moore xii)
Natural Apple Cider Vinegar: One of Mother Nature’s Most Perfect Foods
Fermenting sweet juice makes vinegar. The juice turns to wine or cider which is allowed to ferment a second time until the alcohol mixes with oxygen in the air, changing it into acetic acid and water. Natural---that is, undistilled, organic, raw, apple cider vinegar is often called one of Mother Nature's most perfect foods. Apple cider vinegar should be made from fresh, organic, crushed apples that are allowed to mature naturally in wooden barrels. Natural apple cider vinegar, found in health food stores, should be a rich amber color with the "mother" quite visible as sentiment on the bottom. The strength of vinegar is important. All varieties of vinegar contain about 4 to 7 percent acetic acid, with 5 percent being the most common amount. Acetic acid is what gives vinegar its tart and sour taste.
There is nothing beneficial about commercial distilled vinegars except for pickling, cleaning and disinfection ---they have no health value! They do not contain the health values of organic, raw apple cider vinegar with the mother still intact and viable. Distilled white vinegar and cider vinegar sold in supermarkets are considered "dead" vinegars with none of the enzymes and other live factors that make raw, unpasteurized vinegars so valuable. Distilling removes the beneficial "mother" from the vinegar, thereby, destroying the powerful enzymes and life giving minerals such as potassium, phosphorus, natural organic sodium, magnesium, sulphur, iron copper, natural organic fluorine, silicon, trace minerals, pectin and other powerful nutrients. Also destroyed are natural malic and tartaric acids, which are important in fighting body toxins and inhibiting unfriendly bacteria growth (1- 4).
Apple cider vinegar has shown to be an extremely valuable constituent in the body's biochemical operations and an essential building block in the construction of many complex substances in the body. Vinegar is low in calories and carbohydrates but does contain small amounts of calcium, phosphorus, iron and, of course, lots of potassium. A cup of ACV is 98.8% water, has 34 calories, a trace of protein, and no fat. (Moore p.viii) Acetic acid, the principal constituent in vinegar, plays an important role in the release of energy from fats and carbohydrates. It is of primary importance in the body's metabolism.
Apple Cider Vinegar Can Make Any Living Thing Healthier
Dr. D.C. Jarvis, MD who wrote "Folk Medicine, A Vermont Doctor's Guide to Good Health" and "Arthritis and Folk Medicine,” is completely convinced that apple cider vinegar could make any living thing healthier. He believes, potassium, which is found in just the right amounts in natural apple cider vinegar "is so essential to the life of every living thing and that with out it there would be no life. Potassium is the most important of all minerals that are necessary for good health." Potassium's main function is to promote cell, tissue and organism growth. It is necessary to replace dead cells and tissue. There is no better source of potassium than vinegar---particularly natural apple cider vinegar.
Dr. Jarvis believes Apple cider vinegar can help fight infection, simply by keeping fluids where they belong---in body cells, not in bacteria. Bacteria need moisture to thrive. As bacteria multiply, they will pull necessary fluids from healthy cells in order to flourish, particularly during times of stress when resistance is low. Stress is a major agent in causing a previously sub-clinical problem to break into a full-blown illness. If the process goes unchecked illness will occur. In order to defeat bacterial infections and illness it is important to keep moisture in the cells and prevent germs from depleting that moisture. According to Dr. Jarvis: "If there is enough potassium in each body cell, it will draw moisture from the [harmful] bacteria, instead of the bacteria taking moisture from the body cells." Therefore by providing natural sources of potassium in the diet (fruit, berries, sprouts, edible leaves, edible roots, etc.) and including apple cider vinegar to that diet the body cells are provided with the necessary moisture-attracting potassium. It is interesting to note that many traditional medicines used to combat bacterial illness also work by depriving bacteria of moisture and thus keeping fluids inside the cells (O'Brien p40)
Acidic pH Balance Will Discourage Bacteria, Yeast & Fungal Growth
Apple cider vinegar destroys microorganisms, including bacteria, fungi, viruses and others, and prevents poisons from reaching the rest of the systems of the body. It has been proven to inhibit the growth of gram-negative bacilli, Pseudomonas, and Candida. The acid nature of vinegar makes the digestive tract environment unpleasant for germs and fungus. Apple cider vinegar has proven to be a natural treatment (and preventative) in simple cases of avian pediatric digestive disorders. Dr. Jarvis through his own research believes that apple cider vinegar will lower bloods natural alkalinity, bringing it closer to a natural healthy acid state. A naturally acidic digestive tract digestive, with the correct pH balance, will discourage bacteria and is less likely to grow yeast and fungus. Apple cider vinegar can assist the natural process of breaking food in the stomach. The acidic qualities of ACV will help break down protein, in the digestive system, for absorption into the bloodstream.
Apple Cider Vinegar On The Farm
For the past year and a half I have routinely added apple cider vinegar, to my baby birds' hand-feeding formula, to all drinking water and sprinkled some on the food of the animals here at our aviary and small dairy farm. These animals include several species of breeding exotic parrots, chickens, ducks, dogs, cats and LaMancha dairy goats. The vinegar keeps the water bowls and bottles very clean and sanitary and the animals seem to love it--- of course, the nutritional and health benefits are a plus. Apple cider vinegar added to young birds drinking water encourages early weaning and healthy weight gain and they will feather out faster. Adding a little raw apple cider vinegar to the hand-feeding formula water can prove nutritionally beneficial and help to inhibit the growth of yeast, fungus and bacteria. In formula a ratio of about ¼ tsp per 4 oz water is best.
You may safely add cider vinegar to food and/or drinking water, starting with small amounts and building up to ½ to 1 teaspoon per 15 pounds of body weight or about 1 tsp apple cider vinegar (health food store variety best) to 8 oz water. That is about ¼ cup per gallon of water and/or you may sprinkle or spray small amounts on bird's food. Gradually add small doses to food over time, you can help even the most finicky eater to accept this. Do not use metal food or water dishes when using vinegar, stainless steel is OK.
Why Vinegar? Because it can be used medicinally, gets rid of poisons in the body, has disinfecting and cleaning properties and is a natural, nontoxic, biodegradable substance. That is, vinegar is an unadulterated food, a powerful cleansing agent and healing elixir---a naturally occurring antibiotic and antiseptic that fights germs and bacteria. We would be smart to make use of vinegar in our own lives and in our avian nurseries and breeding facilities. --- For a healthier, stronger, longer life for our animals and ourselves.