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Dr. Zorba Paster: Apple cider vinegar ... with a grain of salt?

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Can apple cider vinegar really be a cure for obesity? Well, don’t believe everything you might read.

First, a bit of history. The affection for apple cider vinegar started with a book from the 1950s called “Folk Medicine: A Vermont Doctor’s Guide to Good Health,” by D.C. Jarvis. He recommended a mixture of the stuff with honey, claiming it would wipe out cancer, heart disease and pretty much every other known malady.

Life was good for Dr. Jarvis until he started manufacturing the recipe, leading the FDA to put a cease and desist order on his “bountiful” liquid. You can write whatever you want in this country to call something a promotion for good health, but you can’t claim it cures anything unless you prove it does.

Still, Dr. Jarvis died a happy man, having made quite a bit from his books and lectures. And this folk remedy continues to be popular despite the paucity of scientific evidence to support it.

Generally, it’s mixing 1 tablespoon of vinegar in a glass of water and off you go. Don’t let it linger in your mouth as the acetic acid, the tang of vinegar, can be brutal on tooth enamel.

There are pills purportedly containing “dry vinegar,” but I wouldn’t try them as their concentrated acidity is dangerous — both for you and for any kids in your house who might want to try them.

Some say apple cider vinegar reduces the sugar spike after you eat your breakfast, while others say it’s good to prevent diabetes. There is some evidence, though quite scant, that it may help with cholesterol and triglycerides. Some folks suffering from IBS, irritable bowel syndrome, say it gives them relief.

Now, as for its being a cure for obesity — come on. If that were the case, we’d all be swallowing the stuff to keep us at the right weight.

And as far as its ability to stave off a cold or cure a viral infection, there is no proof. If this were the case, we’d all be drinking apple cider vinegar to keep COVID-19 at bay — and wouldn’t that be nice.

My spin: If you feel better taking apple cider vinegar, keep it up. If you want to compare brands, go to consumerlab.com. They’ve tested a bunch of them if you want to see which one is the purest.

•••

Hi, Dr. Zorba: I’m aggravated. My left foot looks perfectly normal. My right foot is infected with that awful toenail fungus.

My podiatrist tried laser treatments three times, followed by a topical antifungal and ultraviolet light treatment. I tried a sanitizing spray on my shoes, I bleached the shower surface. Nothing works.

I hate this. I’m flummoxed. I’ve heard there are pills for this, but I’m worried about the side effects.

PS: Funny thing is, my two feet are together under the sheets each night, but the left one resists whatever organism has taken over my right foot. — A.N.

Dear A.N.: You’ve done your best with local treatment, and bleaching the shower goes the whole 9 yards but unfortunately doesn’t do much.

I would recommend generic Lamisil (terbinafine), which is a well-tolerated drug with few side effects, unlike its cousin griseofulvin, which is known to cause liver problems. That said, is the drug completely benign? No.

Read up on it, talk to your doctor and then make a decision you think is right for you. But if you do take it, use the pulse method — it significantly reduces the side effects with a cure that’s about the same, 80%.

Pulse dosing is seven days of taking the pills, followed by 21 days off. Then you repeat this two more times, for a total of three cycles. That means only taking three weeks of meds over a 12-week period. Fewer pills overall reduces your risk of side effects.

Hope you find this information helpful in your case, for your toenails’ sake. Stay well.

Dr. Jarvis died a happy man,

having made quite a bit from his

books and lectures. And this folk remedy continues to be popular despite the paucity of scientific evidence to support it.

This column provides general health information. Always consult your personal health care provider about concerns. No ongoing relationship of any sort is implied or offered by Dr. Paster to people submitting questions. Any opinions expressed by Dr. Paster in his columns are personal and are not meant to represent or reflect the views of SSM Health.

Dr. Jarvis died a happy man, having made quite a bit from his books and lectures. And this folk remedy continues to be popular despite the paucity of scientific evidence to support it.

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