I packed a small roll-on vial of apple cider vinegar with lavender essential oil as my natural deodorant for a two month travel stint with my husband. I am super pleased with how well it has worked and how little of it I have had to carry, especially since we are on the cycle tour portion of our trip now and every ounce we carry makes a world of difference. Full disclosure: I have more persistent body odor then some other folks I know intimately enough to compare our scents. I have found this combination to be pretty effective for me. You might smell a bit like salad dressing just after applying it but that fades fast. Apple cider vinegar balances the pH of things. When you have an overgrowth of certain bacteria mixed with your sweat, you get body odor. Lavender has anti-microbial effects as well, plus it just smells lovely.
Likewise, when you have an overgrowth of less than helpful bacteria or yeast in your gut, you get dysbiosis, an imbalance in the variety and quantity of supportive and less supportive microbes known collectively as the gut microbiome. You can imagine how your digestion would be a bit off if you have extra yeast or bacteria. Or maybe you had experienced this first hand, having gotten a bacterial or protozoan infection like giardia. Not fun, especially when you are on vacation or a long travel sabbatical.
Apple cider vinegar may not help you with Giardia, but it can be super useful if you have acid reflex/heartburn, a condition that can worsen during pregnancy. Often, but not always, heartburn is caused in part by insufficient amounts of acid in the stomach. Mixing a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar with some water and drinking it just before eating will help get the juices flowing more freely. Or you can make a shrub, a tasty apple cider vinegar drink with herbs and fruit. Or you can make some salad dressing with apple cider vinegar. There are so many mouthwatering possibilities. A word of caution: If you happen to have too much stomach acid, apple cider vinegar may make things worse. That said, a lot of people fall on the not-enough-stomach-acid side of things. When your stomach acid is plentiful but not too plentiful, your food will be properly digested by the time it reaches your intestines. This will help keep things moving smoothly in the intestinal tract and discourage overgrowth of unhealthy levels of yeast and bacteria there.
With an overgrowth of yeast or bacteria in the perineum, the soft tissues surrounding the vulva and anus, you get yeast/fungal infections or bacterial vaginosis. The quantity and variety of healthy microbes in the body shift in pregnancy. Persistent, untreated perineal infections like yeast and certain kinds of bacteria during pregnancy and when approaching the expected delivery date can pose risks for preterm labor and infection risk for the baby.
Douching has been incorrectly touted as a way of “cleansing” the sensitive internal tissues that lead up to the uterus after a monthly bleed or to prevent infection. I strongly urge people to avoid douching. A douche is basically a vinegar and water solution. The general concept makes sense, since apple cider vinegar balances and cleanses things quite well. However, not our all vinegars are so medicinal as apple cider vinegar. Commercially produced solutions are much too harsh on the natural microbiome of internal and external perineal tissues and can actually cause infection. The soft tissues of the pelvis are self-cleaning, they balance them selves naturally. But in case there is a self-cleaning malfunction, there is apple cider vinegar. Mix a cup or two with a full bath and soak in it for 20 minutes or so. Alternatively, you could add a quarter cup of apple cider vinegar to a sitz bath bucket and fill with water and soak your bum in it for a while.
One last fun fact from my hairstylist regarding apple cider vinegar is that apparently it can rinse build up from your hair. She suggested I do an apple cider vinegar rinse before shampooing and conditioning every couple weeks. When I do, my hair feels amazing. Again, the salad dressing scent only lasts for so long. I am no expert on hair care though, so I defer to the hair care experts to explain more about how exactly this works.
I hope you have been able to glean a few gems of useful information about the multi-faceted medicinal apple cider vinegar. Apple cider vinegar feels a bit to me like Gus Portokalos’s love of Windex in My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Just put some apple cider vinegar on it!
Should you need help with any of the types of wellness issues I mentioned here, send me a message and we can schedule a time for a free consult about what you want to achieve and how I can help.
Lauren is a registered nurse and herbal consultant specializing in depression and anxiety during and after pregnancy. She supports people with pre or postpartum depression and anxiety through one on one coaching, classes, and online resources to create a support system through the use of herbs, trauma release work, and other body based techniques.