Vinegar Cleansing – Pros and Cons


All the hype about vinegar cleansing over the past few years brought back memories.

My first husband, Bob, dabbled in anti-aging strategies for all the years we were together.  He passed away in 2007 from lung cancer, but throughout his life, he definitely tried some strange home remedies, and I usually tried them with him.

One of them, back in the nineties, was the vinegar cleanse.  He did a “shot” of vinegar every day to “clean his veins,” and he did this just like a shot in a bar – straight vinegar, down the hatch, in a shot glass… just like that.

Me?  I tried once, gagged so hard I almost vomited, then felt the burn down my throat and chest for a whole day after that.  This was not my idea of a good way to cleanse!

Here in the new millennium, these things are cycling back through, and all the talk about the vinegar cleanse made me laugh… but then again, I’m 51 now, not 25.  Maybe it’s time to think about cleansing those veins after all.

In truth, weight loss was my main motivator.  I am a slender person and always have been; but having a baby at 42 has definitely made me struggle with an extra five to eight pounds of belly fat.  It’s a see-saw of getting rid of that “bump,” and losing a bit too much in my arms and face, looking a bit too skeletal to seem like I’m at a healthy weight.

So, the vinegar cleanse initially solved this problem.  Completely.  A shot of vinegar each night added to orange juice was my solution.  When taken in this way, the vinegar did alter the taste of the OJ a bit, but it was drinkable and just made the juice taste more like grapefruit.  I could live with that.

Then, on our summer trip to visit family in Ohio, my brother-in-law introduced me to his amazing concoction for vinegar, and I was hooked!

The recipe you see in the mason jars above is:  about one cup (maybe more) in the blender with fresh blueberries, honey, strawberries and some cranberry juice to fill the rest of the blender.

I literally feel the antioxidants flowing through me when I drink this, plus the cleansing of the vinegar (almost immediate), and I can make batches to keep in the fridge for use each night.

Long story short – I did it too often, for too long.

First, it stopped working the way it did with the orange juice.  I was getting my bloated belly back, and no matter what I did… it would not go away.

Second, I think daily is too much.  I have been pretty consistently using vinegar cleansing every day for about a year.

On a hot August Saturday in New Orleans, I decided to work in my garden and plant a few new things I’d picked up over the past few weeks.  My “garden” consists of two flower beds with a sidewalk between them, and I was inspired by a visit to a new friend’s house… Doris’ garden is an overflowing English garden that meanders all the way around her house, up and down the sides, bordering her sidewalks…

In New Orleans, we have tiny postage-stamp yards in the city.  Our houses are close together with small driveways (if you’re lucky) between them; so our gardens are big time important.  They really define the whole house from the street, and we are competitive in our efforts to have “effortless” tropical oases throughout the neighborhood.

Mine looks awesome, I must say.

But.  On that particular day, the heat really got me.  I paced myself, worked a section of the garden at a time, took breaks, drank water, went inside for half hour intervals.  Still, by the end of the day, I felt really drained and exhausted.  I was only out there for a total of two hours, but I sweated profusely and, I think, lost lots of fluids.

I think I dehydrated more quickly because of the vinegar allowing all my liquids to escape through my skin.  This is very unscientific – I’m just saying, I did a lot of sweating, which I usually do not do, and for the next week, I fought dizziness, weakness and had a very unstable, “fluttery” feeling in my muscles and a “twitchiness” that ran throughout my nervous system.

Someone suggested laying off the vinegar and focusing on rebalancing my electrolytes.  It seems all the acid had stripped away what I needed, as well as what I didn’t.

It took about two weeks of letting my body tell me what it wanted before the strangeness stopped.

I craved pasta, red meat, and bananas.  I seemed to need lots of potassium and protein, and I even added Pedialyte to my drinks a few times a day, since I have my doubts about the healthfulness of Gatorade and other sports drinks.

Now, finally back to normal, I’m trying a new theory for keeping belly fat at bay.  I’m back to the orange juice and vinegar, but just once a week.

I’m also adding more fiber to my diet, having frosted Mini Wheats for lunch every day, to keep myself “regular.”

This is a good example of what I always lack – moderation.  I think the vinegar cleansing is a helpful addition to my efforts to purge toxins from my body, but too much strips away the good things, too.

If you’re vinegar cleansing and not feeling “right,” it may make sense to take a break and focus on other ways of ridding toxins, while maintaining a healthy balance of nutrients and liquids.