Apple cider vinegar is special vinegar that has been used over centuries to lose weight, improve hair and skin, manage blood sugar, and even improve the appearance of acne and scarring. It has no nutritional value and can be used as a spice or food preservative, or as an ingredient in salad dressings.
Apple cider vinegar is made by adding yeast and bacteria to the juice of crushed apples, known as the alcoholic fermentation process. In a second fermentation process, the alcohol is converted into vinegar by acetic acid-forming bacteria (acetobacter). Acetic acid and malic acid give vinegar its sour taste.
1Apple cider vinegar improves insulin sensitivity. One study published in the American Diabetes Association showed a 19–34% improvement in insulin sensitivity in insulin-resistant individuals during a high-carb meal after apple cider vinegar supplementation of 20 milliliters (mL) diluted in 40 mL water. The same study also showed apple cider vinegar significantly lowers blood sugar and insulin responses (1).
2Apple cider vinegar improves blood sugar and can help combat diabetes. A 1995 study showed apple cider vinegar reduces blood sugar by 34% after eating 50 grams of white bread (equivalent to about 3.5 slices of low fiber bread) (2).
Another study from the American Diabetic Association demonstrated that 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar before bedtime could reduce fasting blood sugar in the morning by 4% (3).
Other recent human studies (2016 & 2017) also conclude that apple cider vinegar can improve insulin levels and lower blood sugar levels after meals confirming it as an important tool for diabetes prevention and management (4, 5).
3Apple cider vinegar increases the feeling of fullness. A couple of human studies showed that apple cider vinegar supplementation led to eating up to 275 fewer calories per day (6, 7). In addition, those who consumed the most vinegar ( a max of 2 tablespoons) reported the greatest fullness and had the lowest glucose and insulin responses compared to the other subjects.
4Apple cider vinegar helps burn belly fat. A 2009 study involving 155 people with obesity showed that daily vinegar consumption led to reduced belly fat and weight loss in those who consumed either 1 or 2 tablespoons vinegar daily for 12 weeks (8). The results showed the more vinegar intake, the more weight loss, fat loss, and the lower blood pressure and triglycerides. Results became more pronounced as time went on.
5Apple cider vinegar can protect against cancer. Two 2004 studies concluded that vinegar has anti-cancer properties; including the ability to shrink tumor cells and kill leukemia cancer cells (9, 10).
However, these studies should be taken with a grain of salt since none were conducted with live humans.
Another human study done in 2003 showed mixed results in regards to cancer protection. The study showed that vinegar consumption is linked to increased bladder cancer in Serbia, but decreased esophageal cancer in China (11).
Vinegar, especially apple cider vinegar, may reduce or prevent cancer, but more studies in humans need to be conducted before any definitive conclusion is reached.
6Apple cider vinegar lowers cholesterol. The world’s most common cause of premature death is heart disease (12).
7Apple cider vinegar protects against acne formation. A 2014 study published in applied microbiology and biotechnology concluded that certain compounds in vinegar have been shown to inhibit the growth of Propionibacterium acnes, the specific strain of bacteria responsible for causing acne (16).
This is because vinegar contains acne-fighting specific components like acetic acid, lactic acid, succinic acid and citric acid (17).
8Vinegar reduces blood pressure. A 2001 animal study out of Japan showed that rats who consumed acetic acid, the main component in vinegar, resulted in reduced levels of blood pressure (18).
Another 2005 study in rats published in the Biological and Pharmacological Bulletin found that red wine vinegar blocks an enzyme that raises blood pressure (19). More studies are needed to confirm this in humans.
10Apple cider vinegar may relieve cold symptoms. Apple cider vinegar contains beneficial bacteria that helps to boost the immune system in times when you’re feeling under the weather.
11Apple cider vinegar may help reduce acid reflux and heartburn. Gastroesophageal reflux disease, also known as GERD or acid reflux, is a condition characterized by acid backflow from the stomach up into the esophagus, causing symptoms like heartburn, belching and nausea.
In some cases, acid reflux is a result of having low levels of stomach acid or hypochlorhydria. Though there are no published studies yet to confirm the use of apple cider vinegar for this purpose, anecdotal evidence suggests it may be of value to experiment with.
12Apple cider vinegar may soothe a sore throat. Due to its antibacterial properties, apple cider vinegar is thought as an excellent aid for killing bacteria in the throat. However, there is no evidence to support its use in this way. If you try this at home, make sure you mix the vinegar with water before gargling.
13Apple cider vinegar is a natural deodorant. Apple cider vinegar possesses powerful antibacterial properties and makes an excellent natural deodorant. One of the simplest apple cider vinegar uses is to dab a bit on your fingers and apply under your arms to help neutralize odor and keep you smelling fresh.
14Apple cider vinegar can cause your hair to shine and get rid of dandruff. Apple cider vinegar hair rinse is said to remove product buildup, detangle and add shine to your hair. It’s unclear how effective this is, but the theory is that the acid in the vinegar could help stop the growth of the fungus Malassezia, which may contribute to dandruff.
15Apple cider vinegar can improve varicose veins. A 2016 study showed that when apple cider vinegar was applied to varicose veins twice a day with feet elevated for 30 minutes thereafter, symptoms improved (22).
16Apple cider vinegar can soothe poison ivy rashes. Dr. Robert Sommer, MD, dermatologist in main recommends applying a diluted vinegar compress to poison ivy and poison oak rashes. If you are trying to eliminate poison ivy growing in your yard, Farmer’s Almanac recommends a spray solution of salt, vinegar and dish soap to kill the plants.
1Apple cider vinegar can cause IBS like systems. A study published in the International Journal of Obesity showed that the delayed stomach emptying and enhanced satiety benefits of apple cider vinegar may also cause nausea (23).
2Apple cider vinegar can lower potassium levels and cause bone loss. A 1998 study showed the effects of apple cider vinegar on bone loss and potassium levels (24).
The study followed a 28-year-old woman over six years. She consumed 8.5 oz (250 ml or a little over 1 cup) of apple cider vinegar diluted in water on a daily basis. Eventually, she was admitted to the hospital with low potassium levels and other abnormalities in blood chemistry.
3Apple cider vinegar can erode tooth enamel. One of the leading causes of tooth enamel damage is acidic drinks and food (25).
One 2012 study found that a 15-year-old who consumed one cup of apple cider vinegar per day as a weight loss aid had severe dental decay (26).
4Apple cider vinegar can burn the throat and skin. Due to its acidity level, apple cider vinegar has the potential to cause esophageal (throat) burns.
In one 2012 study, a 6-year-old boy with a leg infection developed multiple skin burns after his mother treated him with undiluted topical apple cider vinegar (27). The vinegar was applied to the boy’s skin via a cotton ball compress and left on for 8 hours.
In another 2015 study, a 14-year-old girl developed erosions on her nose after applying several drops of apple cider vinegar to remove two moles, based on a protocol she’d seen on the internet (28).
5Apple cider vinegar has a few drug interactions to be aware of. A few medications interact with apple cider vinegar as well as other vinegars including insulin or insulin-stimulating medications, potassium-lowering medications including Digoxin (Lanoxin) and certain diuretic drugs.
Typical dosages range from 1–2 teaspoons (5–10 ml) to 1–2 tablespoons (15–30 ml) per day, mixed in 8 ounces of water.
Start with a smaller amount and gradually work up to a maximum of 2 tablespoons (30 ml) per day, depending on your personal tolerance. To prevent tooth enamel damage, rinse with water after.
Is it safe to drink apple cider vinegar? Technically yes, but it’s very acidic and could cause burns. As such, the best way to consume it is to dilute it in water and drink it that way. Taking it on an empty stomach is the best way to consume it. Another option is to dilute the vinegar with oil in the form of a dressing on a green salad prior to a meal.
How do you take apple cider vinegar to lose weight? According to the mentioned studies, adding 1 or 2 tablespoons of diluted apple cider vinegar to your diet may help you lose weight. It can also reduce your body fat percentage, make you lose belly fat and decrease your blood triglycerides.
Can I drink apple cider vinegar at night? Take two teaspoons up to 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar diluted in water combined with a small piece of cheese before bed each night if high blood-sugar levels are a problem for you. You may find your morning fasting blood sugars are improved.
Can apple cider vinegar affect your kidneys? Severe acidity can lead to a number of health problems, like acidosis — which affects the kidneys and lungs — and kidney stones. Moderate intake of vinegar has not been associated with worsening kidney health or an increase in risk of kidney stones.
Does apple cider vinegar detox the body? Supporters of the apple cider vinegar detox say it helps with weight loss, removal of toxins from the body, and blood sugar regulation. There is not much research to suggest that intake of vinegar specifically improves the body’s detoxification processes.
Does apple cider vinegar lighten dark spots? Yes, the inexpensive pantry staple has been proven to lighten dark spots. Soak a cotton ball in the (diluted) vinegar, and apply it to dark spots a few times a week for 2 minutes maximum before rinsing with water. Sensitive skin may require moisturizing before application and using topical vinegar for a shorter duration.
Does apple cider vinegar benefit your hair? The acetic acid in apple cider vinegar will remove residue from product buildup and help you get shiny, lustrous locks.
There are many claims on the internet touting apple cider vinegar as a miracle compound. Unfortunately, it’s not so black and white. Many of these claims are primarily based on ancedotes and are not supported by science. That being said, natural and alternative treatments often receive less attention and published research, but a lack of research doesn’t necessarily indicate there is no value.
What has been confirmed in multiple studies is that apple cider vinegar can promote weight loss, blood sugar control and acne healing.
The typical recommended dosage is 1-2 tablespoons diluted in water, consumed one to several times a day maximum.
It’s not a miracle remedy, but a great all-natural alternative to give your health a boost.