Apple cider vinegar, or ACV, is said to have a variety of benefits ranging from helping with diabetes to easing digestion. Some people swear by their daily shot or elixir as an essential part of their wellness regimen.
Apple cider vinegar is made in a two-step process, related to how alcohol is made (1Trusted Source).
The first step exposes crushed apples (or apple cider) to yeast, which ferment the sugars and turn them into alcohol.
In the second step, bacteria are added to the alcohol solution, which further ferment the alcohol and turn it into acetic acid — the main active compound in vinegar.
For thousands of years, compounds containing vinegar have been used for their presumed healing properties. It was used to improve strength, for “detoxification,” as an antibiotic, and even as a treatment for scurvy. While no one is using apple cider vinegar as an antibiotic anymore (at least, no one should be), it has been touted more recently for weight loss.
In 1958, D.C Jarvis, MD published a book entitled ‘Folk Medicine: A Vermont Doctor’s Guide to Good Health’ wherein he recommended vinegar as a ‘cure-all’ thanks to its potassium rich qualities. Borrowing from Hippocrates, he claimed that mixing apple cider vinegar with honey magnified its healing properties. This practice has extended to modern times with alternative medicine and natural health practitioners continuing to tout apple cider vinegar as the ultimate remedy, superfood and health supplement.
Some people claim that ACV can cure diabetes. While there is no evidence to support this claim, several small studies suggest that ACV may help to control blood glucose.
ACV may, therefore, be useful alongside standard treatments for diabetes. However, scientists need to carry out further research to confirm these effects.
While it’s possible that vinegar may offer some benefits, there is virtually no research on apple cider vinegar for weight loss. The results of one study suggest that any effect is probably subtle, and any weight that is lost may return after stopping the vinegar.
Other studies that have been done have been small or have had some problems with the study design.
It turned out that the cider vinegar, but not the malt vinegar, had a big impact, reducing the amount of sugar in the volunteers’ blood by 36% over 90 minutes.
Next, we wanted to see whether cider vinegar lived up to claims that it helps with weight loss, lowers cholesterol and reduces inflammation (which might help with conditions like rheumatoid/inflammatory arthritis and eczema).
But what did Dr Brown’s tests reveal?
“I’m sorry to say,” he told his expectant audience, “that none of you lost any weight.”
But those consuming cider vinegar saw an average 13% reduction in total cholesterol, with a strikingly large reduction in triglycerides (a form of fat). And this was a particularly impressive finding because our volunteers were all healthy at the start, with normal cholesterol levels.
So cider vinegar probably won’t help anyone slim down, but it may help those who struggle with their blood sugar or cholesterol levels. Because it is acidic I would only drink it diluted or use it sparingly in food.
Vinegar can help kill pathogens, including bacteria (2Trusted Source).
It has traditionally been used for cleaning and disinfecting, treating nail fungus, lice, warts and ear infections.
Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, used vinegar for wound cleaning over two thousand years ago.
If you’re looking for a natural way to preserve your food, then apple cider vinegar could be highly useful.
(from the author)
ACV has also purported benefits for those suffering from diabetes, however…
According to Mercy endocrinologist Dr. Supneet Saluja, those dealing with pre-diabetes and diabetes should be wary of studies that say blood sugar can be lowered with natural remedies alone.
“Studies have shown that they may or may not be effective,” Dr. Saluja said. “We don’t have a lot of clinical data to prescribe it, that’s why they’re over the counter. But it always works in conjunction with your dietary and lifestyle changes.”
Apple cider vinegar (in liquid or pill form) can irritate and injure the throat, esophagus and other parts of the digestive tract, especially when taken concentrated or in large amounts.
Low potassium levels and bone mineral density have been reported with excessive, long-term consumption of apple cider vinegar.
At least one case study has found that the acidity of apple cider vinegar may erode tooth enamel. Drinking it diluted and through a straw may help by reducing direct contact with teeth.
People who have conditions such as gastroparesis, ulcers, hiatal hernia, GERD, and low potassium may need to avoid apple cider vinegar, and it may interact with certain medications (like diuretics and heart and diabetes medication), so it’s a good idea to consult your health care provider before taking apple cider vinegar regularly.
A person is more likely to experience side effects if they regularly consume large quantities of undiluted vinegar or leave it on the skin for long periods.
To lower the risk of unwanted effects, try:
- reducing the quantity of vinegar consumed
- reducing the amount of time that vinegar touches the skin
- diluting the vinegar with water or using it as an ingredient
- limiting contact with the teeth, such as by drinking the vinegar through a straw
While the typical dose is 15 to 30ml (1 to 2 tablespoons) mixed with water before or after meals, at this time, however, there is insufficient scientific evidence to support either appropriate or safe ranges of dosages. Dosages are always important, even when a product is considered a ‘natural’ health remedy.
If you are going to use apple cider vinegar, always consult your doctor first and use the product as is indicated on the label.
Because apple cider vinegar is an unproven treatment, there are no official recommendations on how to use it. Some people take 30 grams or more a day of apple cider vinegar mixed in a cup of water or juice. Tablets with 285 milligrams of dehydrated apple cider vinegar are also commonly sold.