Apple cider vinegar is a liquid produced during the fermentation of apple cider. During this process, the sugar in apples is fermented by yeast and/or bacteria added to the cider, then into alcohol and, finally, into vinegar.
Like other types of vinegar, the key component in apple cider vinegar is acetic acid. Apple cider vinegar also contains other substances such as lactic, citric, and malic acids, and bacteria.
Proponents claim that apple cider vinegar (and vinegar in general) may boost your health in a variety of ways.
benefits of apple cider vinegar
Illustration by Emily Roberts, Very well
1) Help Control Blood Sugar and Prevent Diabetes
Acetic acid in vinegar appears to block enzymes that help you digest starch, resulting in a smaller blood sugar response after starchy meals such as pasta or bread.
In a report published in 2017, researchers reviewed previously published clinical trials on the effects of vinegar intake with a meal and found that vinegar helped to decrease fluctuations in blood sugar and insulin after the meal.
To incorporate apple cider vinegar in your meals, try adding a splash to salads, marinades, vinaigrettes, and sauces. If you have diabetes or pre-diabetes, be sure to consult your doctor if you’re considering using amounts larger those normally found in cooking. Vinegar can interact with diabetes medication, and it shouldn’t be used by people with certain health conditions, like gastroparesis.
2) Aid in Weight Loss
Proponents claim that consuming vinegar before or with a meal may have a satiating effect. A Japanese study examined the effects of daily vinegar intake on body fat in adults who were obese. At the end of the 12-week study, participants who had consumed vinegar had a very modest one-to-two pound reduction in body weight. Body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, triglycerides, and visceral fat were also reduced. Further studies, however, are needed to understand the connection between vinegar and weight.
People tend to consume greater than normal amounts of apple cider vinegar when using it for weight loss purposes, with some even taking it in tablet form. However, there’s a risk that pills can injure the gastrointestinal tract. According to one report, for instance, a woman had an ACV tablet lodged in her throat for 30 minutes and developed pain and tenderness in the throat area and difficulty swallowing that lasted for six months.
3) Get Rid of Dandruff
To address dandruff, some people find that lightly spritzing an apple cider vinegar and water solution onto the scalp combats persistent flakes, itchiness, and irritation. Vinegars acetic acid may alter the scalps pH, making it harder for yeast one of the main contributors to dandruff flourish. The spray is typically left in hair for 15 minutes before rinsing and is used once or twice a week.
When spritzing hair or rinsing out the solution, avoid getting apple cider vinegar in your eyes or ears. It should always be diluted and used in small amounts. You may wish to use eye protection. If you have color-treated hair, consult your color technician as it may affect your color.
4) Stop Itchy Bug Bites and Stings
If you have mosquito bites, poison ivy, or jellyfish stings, a weak apple cider vinegar solution dabbed onto bites and stings may help itching and irritation.
5) Freshen Hair Between Washings
To keep your hair fresh in between washes, try spritzing apple cider vinegar solution on your roots to control the oil. Experts recommend adding five drops of apple cider vinegar to five ounces of water in a spray bottle and spritzing your roots several times, once or twice a week.
Be careful not to get the solution on your face, eyes, or ears. If your hair is color-treated, its a good idea to consult your colorist before using it.
Although apple cider vinegar is sometimes recommended as a hair rinse to remove shampoo build-up and clarify dull hair, the solution has to very dilute because it is harder to keep the larger amounts that are used in a rinse from getting in your face, eyes, and delicate skin area when you wash it out at home.
6) Relieve Minor Sunburns
While the more common recommendation for a mild sunburn is a cool water compress, cool bath, aloe gel, or moisturizer, some people swear by apple cider vinegar. It can be added to a cool bath or mixed with cool water and lightly spritzed on affected areas (avoiding the face) to relieve pain and discomfort.
Apple cider vinegar shouldn’t be applied full-strength or in strong concentrations to the skin, as the acidity can further injure skin. It also shouldn’t be used for more serious burns. Be sure to consult your health care provider for help in determining the severity of your sunburn.
CHECK OUT THIS APPLE CIDER VINEGAR
Apple cider vinegar may help to dry out pimples when a solution is dabbed onto pimples. It should be diluted before applying it to the face as it can cause skin injury or chemical burns if its not dilute enough.
The concentration of acetic acid in apple cider vinegar varies widely and is not standardized, making it difficult to judge how much to dilute it to be safe as a skin toner or for other purposes.
8) Soothe a Sore Throat
A time-honored throat elixir, apple cider vinegar drinks and gargles are said to alleviate the pain of a sore throat. Although there are many different recipes and protocols, a basic drink recipe calls for a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar, a teaspoon of honey, and a small pinch of cayenne pepper stirred in a cup of warm water.
Although some proponents claim that apple cider vinegar has germ-fighting properties and capsaicin in hot peppers alleviates pain, there hasnt been any research on apple cider vinegars ability to fight sore throats.
Some sources recommend a stronger solution or even taking apple cider vinegar by the spoonful, however, the acidity may cause mouth and throat irritation or chemical burns.
While most sore throats are minor, if you have other symptoms or are concerned, you should contact your health care provider.
9) Ease Heartburn and Indigestion
Apple cider vinegar is said to ease some types of heartburn, acid reflux, and digestive conditions like constipation or diarrhea. For heartburn, apple cider vinegar is thought to work because it is acidic, and a lack of stomach acid is believed to trigger heartburn symptoms in some people.
Still, the widely accepted heartburn diet involves reducing acidic foods, so it’s a good idea to speak with your health care provider before adding acidic foods to your diet.
While some sources recommend taking it by the spoonful, apple cider vinegar’s acidity may result in mouth, throat, or esophageal irritation or burns. A more moderate guideline would be to have an amount you would normally eat in a meal (typically one teaspoon or less) diluted in one cup of water or taken in food.
10) Cure Hiccups
To stop hiccups, proponents suggest consuming one teaspoon of sugar with several drops of apple cider vinegar added to the sugar. The sugars grainy texture and the vinegars sour taste are said to trigger nerves in the throat and mouth responsible for controlling the hiccup reflex.
If hiccups are a regular occurrence for you, be sure to see your doctor. You dont want to regularly rely on added sugar in your diet to get rid of hiccups. Also, hiccups can be a sign of an underlying condition, like GERD or a hiatal hernia.
11) Stomp Out Foot Odor
To help keep smelly feet under control, proponents claim apple cider vinegar may help to balance the skins pH and fight the bacteria that causes foot odor. Typically, a bit of apple cider vinegar is mixed into water. Baby wipes, cotton balls or pads, small towels, or cotton rags can be dipped into the solution, wrung out, and used to wipe the bottom of the feet. Wipes can be made ahead and stored in an airtight container.
Although a vinegar scent will be noticeable, it often dissipates when the vinegar solution has dried. Avoid wearing shoes made from materials like leather that can be damaged by the acidity.
12) Swap Out Your Deodorant
An apple cider vinegar solution may help to neutralize odor-causing armpit bacteria. Typically, cotton pads, towelettes, or cotton rags are lightly spritzed with a very weak solution and swiped onto the armpits. The vinegar smell should dissipate as it dries.
It’s a good idea to test the apple cider vinegar solution in a smaller area first and to avoid using it if you’re wearing delicate fibers, like silk.
Types of Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is available filtered or unfiltered. Filtered apple cider is a clear light brown color. Unfiltered and unpasteurized ACV (such as Bragg’s apple cider vinegar) has a dark, cloudy sediment at the bottom of the bottle. Known as “mother of vinegar” or simply “the mother,” this sediment consists mainly of acetic acid bacteria. Apple cider vinegar is also available in tablet form.
A 2005 study, tested eight brands of apple cider vinegar supplement tablets and found that the ingredients didn’t correspond to the ingredients listed on the label. What’s more, chemical analysis of the samples led researchers to question whether any of the products were apple cider vinegar or simply acetic acid.
How to Use Apple Cider Vinegar
Although most suggested uses involve diluting apple cider vinegar before applying it to body, the safety of different vinegar-to-water ratios isn’t known. A 1:10 ratio has been suggested when applying it directly to skin, however, it should be weaker (or avoided entirely) on weak or delicate skin.
Although a teaspoon to a tablespoon mixed into 8 ounces of water is often suggested as a reasonable amount for internal use, the safety of various doses isn’t known.
You can try to use it highly diluted, but the amount of acetic acid in commercial apple cider vinegar varies (unlike white vinegar, which is 5 percent acetic acid) making it impossible to be sure of the true strength.
Side Effects and Safety
Apple cider vinegar is a popular household ingredient, which may lead you to believe that it’s completely safe. While there may be no cause for alarm if you are generally healthy, there are some potential effects to be aware of, particularly if the concentration is too strong or is in contact with your body for too long.
Apple cider vinegar, for instance, may cause chemical burns. There have been case reports of chemical burns after apple cider vinegar was used for warts and a skin condition known as molluscum contagiosum.
Although apple cider vinegar is widely touted as a home remedy to whiten teeth or freshen breath, exposing your teeth to the acidity may erode tooth enamel and lead to cavities.
A case report linked excessive apple cider vinegar consumption with low blood potassium levels (hypokalemia) and low bone mineral density.
Apple cider vinegar may interact with certain medications, including laxatives, diuretics, blood thinners, and heart disease and diabetes medications.
Apple cider vinegar shouldn’t be used as a nasal spray, sinus wash, or in a neti pot, and it shouldn’t be added to eye drops. Vinegar won’t help in the treatment of lice.
If you’re considering using apple cider vinegar for any health purpose, be sure to speak with your healthcare provider to see if its right for you, rather than self-treating and avoiding or delaying standard treatment. People with certain conditions (such as ulcers, hiatal hernia, Barretts esophagus, or low potassium) may need to avoid apple cider vinegar entirely.