Apple cider vinegar is literally making headlines these days. Used as a home remedy for various ailments since the 1950’s popular book Folk Medicine promoted its benefits, apple cider vinegar is taking the alternative medicine world by storm.
The low-calorie (just 2 calories/tablespoon!) substance containing malic acid and acetic acid boasts a long list of potential benefits.
Can this natural solution revolutionize your health?
We’ve dug around to find the best uses and research supporting them, providing you with the ultimate guide to apple cider vinegar.
Apple Cider Vinegar Benefits
Apple cider vinegar is made by squeezing the juice out of apples and adding bacteria and yeast to ferment the solution. After fermentation, the sugars of the apples are turned to alcohol, fermented again, and turned to vinegar.
Apple cider vinegar is very acidic (it’s main component is acetic acid), but it is alkaline-forming in the body. The acetic acid and malic acid, give apple cider vinegar antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral properties.
Contrary to most reports we’ve seen on the internet, apple cider vinegar contains hardly any vitamins or minerals; however, there could many phytochemicals which are as yet unidentified by standard tests.
Despite this, apple cider vinegar has been said to help ease digestion, tame acne and pesky skin conditions, lower blood pressure, aid in weight loss, and much more.
As you’ll see there is some research supporting some of these benefits, while others (the majority) are simply via word of mouth from the many apple cider vinegar raving fans.
Regardless, the scientific evidence, while often inconclusive does seem very promising, even if apple cider vinegar isn’t quite the miracle cure it’s been hyped up to be.
With that in mind, let’s cover some of the specific benefits of apple cider vinegar in a little more detail.
Apple Cider Vinegar for Weight Loss
Though there are limited dependable studies, there is some evidence that suggests apple cider vinegar can be used to aid in weight loss.
One of the main ingredients in apple cider vinegar is acetic acid. Acetic acid itself has been proven to promote weight loss.
By the end of 12 weeks the researchers found that both those who consumed the low-dose and high-dose vinegar beverage had significant weight loss as compared to the placebo group.
Specifically, the study states:
“Body weight, BMI, visceral fat area, waist circumference, and serum triglyceride > levels were significantly lower in both vinegar intake groups than in the placebo > group. In conclusion, daily intake of vinegar might be useful in the prevention of > metabolic syndrome by reducing obesity.”
The average weight los per person who consumed the vinegar drink was between 1 – 2 kg with a BMI reduction of around 0.4 – 0.7 points.
Some things to note:
After the study, when the subjects no longer consumed the daily vinegar beverage, body weight and BMIs returned to their initial values, suggesting that continuous consumption of vinegar is necessary for the positive weight loss effects.
Remember, it is the acetic acid which is responsible for the weight loss effects (suppression of body fat mass due to inhibition of lipogenesis), fortunately apple cider vinegar is actually very high in acetic acid.
Also bear in mind that this study was done on a relatively small sample (175 obese but otherwise healthy Japanese subjects) and all things considered, the weight loss over the 3 month period was fairly minimal.
In other words:
Apple cider vinegar, in and of itself is not going to make you achieve significant levels of weight loss.
It could still be worth adding an apple cider beverage to your diet because:
As the study above shows, it provides SOME weight loss benefits, and even if they are fairly minimal, something is better than nothing.
You’ll be getting all the other proven health benefits of apple cider vinegar.
It’s an easy win to add a daily apple cider vinegar drink to your diet because it’s so simple to make that it hardly takes any time to do. As far as weight loss goes, if you think apple cider vinegar is going to be some kind of miracle weight loss cure, then you’re going to be disappointed.
But, if you have realistic expectations and use apple cider vinegar to supplement a healthy diet and exercise lifestyle, then it will make a great addition to your weight loss endeavours.
The Apple Cider Vinegar Diet
Interested in adding apple cider vinegar to your diet to see if you can experience similar weight loss results?
Fortunately, the Apple Cider Vinegar Diet could not be more simple.
If you spend 5 minutes searching, you’ll discover that there are thousands of reviews on the apple cider vinegar diet, the apple cider detox, and the apple cider cleanse.
After doing some digging, we found that all of these health fixes revolve around the same basic concept:
- Add 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to 16 ounces of water.
- Consume this beverage 1-2 times each day.
Of course, it always, always helps when you combine this with a clean, healthy diet.
One thing must be said:
Always dilute apple cider vinegar before you consume it.
First, and most importantly:
Acetic acid is a weak acid, but it’s still an acid, and as a result has a corrosive effect, so you definitely don’t want to drink it straight.
Your tooth enamel and throat will thank you for diluting it – seriously.
Second: if you’ve ever tried it undiluted you’ll agree: yuck!
Fortunately, there are about 1000 apple cider vinegar beverage recipes for you to choose from.
Here’s a very simple recipe that tastes pretty good:
Simple Apple Cider Vinegar Recipe
- 1 ½ cups of water
- 1 – 2 tbsp of raw apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp of honey
Optionally, add a little cinnamon and maybe even some lemon. Not bad!
How Does The Apple Cider Vinegar Diet Work?
The apples used to make apple cider vinegar contain pectin, a fiber that is known to enhance feelings of fullness, which in turn helps to keep you from mindlessly snacking during the day.
Not only that, if you recall from the earlier studies we referenced, acetic acid has been proven to promote weight loss.
The main ingredient of apple cider vinegar is acetic acid.
If you spend a little more time reading some reviews for the apple cider vinegar diet, you will see that many people have tried it and reported favourable results.
However, a healthy dose of scepticism is also a good thing, especially when it comes to claims of weight loss.
For example, not everyone is convinced about apple cider vinegars efficacy for weight loss; dietician Katherine Zeratsky (Mayo Clinic) states that apple cider vinegar isn’t likely to be effective for weight loss, since there is little scientific support for these claims.
She instead recommends the following tried-and-tested advice:
“The key to losing weight is burning more calories than you consume. Choose a >variety of healthy foods — such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean >sources of protein — and include physical activity in your daily routine.”
Still, if you’re doing the above, as long as there are no other complicating factors (check with your doctor first) it’s easy enough to add an apple cider beverage to your diet as a weight loss aid.
What About The Apple Cider Vinegar Detox?
Many people use apple cider vinegar as a kind of detoxing tonic, and if you take a look around you’ll find a list of anecdotal benefits as long as your arm.
The thing is…
There aren’t a whole lot of scientific studies to back these claims, at least on humans, for the time being.
Of course, just because the research hasn’t been done, doesn’t mean that the positive effects don’t exist, or to put it another way:
Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.
But as ever, when there’s hype, you need to take it with a grain of salt…
Let’s take a look at a few of the purported benefits:
Consuming 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in a large glass of water 15 minutes before a meal may stimulate the digestive enzymes that break down food and especially fat.
The acetic acid in apple cider vinegar may engage fat-digesting enzymes in the body, helping to break down food and kick-start the digestive process.
In addition to keeping gas and bloating at bay, pectin and apple cider vinegar may help stimulate bowl movements to relieve constipation.
The ‘mother’ of apple cider vinegar (the pulpy bit) contains probiotics and other beneficial bacteria which are good for digestion.
Apple cider vinegar also prevents the absorption of starches, so drinking an apple cider beverage with a starchy meal allows some of those undigested starches to support good bacteria.
Studies like this one hint that the acetic acid in apple cider vinegar could help with mineral absorption.
Provides natural enzymes
True, in fact, not only does apple cider vinegar contain its’ own natural enzymes, but it also stimulates the flow of enzymes and saliva in the mouth.
Helps eliminate toxins
We haven’t been able to find any evidence to support this directly; however, apple cider vinegar can support digestion which in turn can aid with the elimination of toxins.
Breaks up mucus
Many people swear by apple cider vinegar’s mucus-busting properties, which may be true given the very high acetic acid content.
Provides vitamins and minerals
Nope. Apple cider vinegar is mostly acetic acid, there are hardly any vitamins and only trace levels of minerals. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t other unidentified and potentially beneficial phytochemicals in it though.
The acetic acid in apple cider vinegar has a powerful antimicrobial effect, which means it can help kill bacteria. In fact, vinegar has been historically used to clean and disinfect wounds, Hippocrates himself used it for this very purpose.
In addition to this, because of its bacteria-inhibiting abilities, vinegar has been used as a food preservative through the ages.
Helps cleanse the liver
It’s still too early to say whether or not these positive effects extend to humans.
Apple Cider Vinegar Uses
Aside from weight loss, apple cider vinegar has some other great uses, especially as a beauty product. Skip the harsh chemicals and even harsher prices, and stock your beauty cabinet with the $2 miracle worker!
Apple cider vinegar can be used to bring shine and life back to hair, smooth and even out skin tone, and flush toxins from your body.
Apple Cider Vinegar Hair Cleanse
Do you use a lot of hair products?
Even using just one product on a daily basis can add up, creating a build up of residue in your hair.
To revitalize your hair and create softness and miraculous shine, mix 1 part apple cider vinegar with 1 part water.
Apply to your hair and massage it in for 30 seconds after your normal shampoo routine.
Leave the solution in for a few minutes as you finish up the rest of your shower, then rinse out.
You can skip conditioner today – the apple cider vinegar will add all of the shine and softness you desire, and then some!
Some apple cider vinegar fans are even skipping the store bought shampoo and conditioner routine all together, opting for a more natural cleanser and detangler.
Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo
To try this trend, mix 1 cup water with 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar and 1 cup water with 1 tablespoon baking soda.
Use the baking soda mix as shampoo, rinse, and use the apple cider vinegar mix as your conditioner.
If your hair is extra-long or thick, increase these recipes as needed.
The apple cider vinegar will help restore the hair’s protective layer and add potassium, which is necessary for hair growth, increasing the overall health of your hair and scalp.
The natural shampoo and conditioner pair has also been shown to slow, and though reported, but not proven, even reverse hair loss.
Apple Cider Vinegar for Dandruff
Dealing with dandruff?
Don’t give those flakes a chance by spraying your hair with 1 part apple cider vinegar and 1 part water, letting it sit for 20 minutes, and rinsing out.
Don’t worry about shampoo or conditioner when using this home remedy for dandruff, the mixture alone will cleanse hair and relieve itchiness. Give the rinse or shampoo a try, as they are both said to seriously increase shine!
Apple cider vinegar has also been shown to work wonders for skin as both a cleanser and a remedy for dermatological issues.
As an anti-bacterial:
The acetic acid in apple cider vinegar acts as an anti-bacterial which may help with acne.
As an exfoliant:
Acting as a natural exfoliant, apple cider vinegar can also help fade age spots and scars when used as a toner.
As a toner:
To use as a toner, soak a cotton ball in equal parts apple cider vinegar and water and gently wipe around your face.
As a facial cleanser:
You can also soak up apple cider vinegar’s benefits by adding 3 cups of apple cider vinegar to a warm bath to release toxins absorbed from the stress, smoke, and smog of your daily life.
After soaking for 15-20 minutes, your skin will be detoxified and revitalized! There are also reports that the apple cider vinegar soak can help relieve sore muscles, so hop in that warm bath after a kick-butt work out to ease the burn of tired muscles.
Your four-legged family members can benefit from apple cider vinegar, too!
Get Rid of Fleas
To help prevent and treat fleas, bathe your pet in a mixture of ½ gallon apple cider vinegar and ½ gallon warm water. Completely cover your pet in the solution and massage it into the fur.
If this mixture is being used to treat fleas, use a fine tooth comb to comb through your pet’s fur and remove all fleas.
Repeat the apple cider vinegar bath every 3 days for 3 weeks to get rid of all fleas.
If being used as a preventative measure, the mixture only needs to be applied every few weeks.
Though this natural remedy has been reported to work, always consult with your veterinarian before making any big changes to your pet’s care.
There are even some reports that these same steps can be used to remove head lice in humans, as well.
Acne, Warts, Skin Tags & Sunburn
There are many dermatological issues that apple cider vinegar can reportedly remedy, as well. Acne, warts, moles, even sun burns can be treated with apple cider vinegar in various solutions.
Your skin is naturally acidic, but store bought cleansers that claim to treat acne can make your skin even more acidic, creating a vicious acne-fighting cycle.
Mix 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar with 2-3 tablespoons of warm water. Apply this mixture to your skin with a cotton ball to kill bacteria, remove excess dirt, oil, and impurities, revealing beautifully clear skin.
After letting your skin dry, carry on with your normal skin care routine.
Another common dermatological issue, warts, can be dried out painlessly with the use of apple cider vinegar.
Before heading to bed, soak a cotton ball in undiluted apple cider vinegar. Apply the cotton ball to the affected area and secure with a Band-Aid.
Repeat this remedy for a few nights until the wart simply dries out and disappears.
Is a raised mole cramping your style?
After checking with your doctor to be sure there are no other health concerns regarding the mole, safely burn and remove the mole by using the same cotton ball method used for warts.
Reapply the cotton ball mixture nightly until the mole blackens and falls off – beauty blunder cured.
Apple cider vinegar can also help relieve a mild sun burn, and pretty quickly too!
Soak a wash cloth in cold water, apply a small amount of apple cider vinegar, and dab the cloth onto the burned areas. You can give your skin even more relief, and moisture, buy applying coconut oil once dry.
Two common and more severe skin issues, eczema and psoriasis, can be treated and potentially relieved with an apple cider vinegar cleanse.
The acetic acid in apple cider vinegar can reportedly help relie the itching and dryness that come as a result of eczema.
Simply mix 1 part apple cider vinegar with 1 part water in a spray bottle and spray onto the affected areas.
Let your skin dry, and carry on with your life.
If you are tired of shelling out big bucks for failed attempts to remedy your psoriasis, apple cider vinegar may come to your rescue. Many people suffering from psoriasis have tried above home remedy with reportedly good results.
Bear in mind though, that it has not been scientifically proven to cure or even relieve the skin condition.
Apple cider vinegar acts as an anti-fungal and, when applied topically, can exfoliate the top layers of skin without buying harsh and expensive products.
To use apple cider vinegar to help treat psoriasis:
Drink 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in 16 ounces of water twice daily and apply the topical spray used for eczema daily.
Again, always talk to your doctor before testing out any home remedies.
Apple Cider Vinegar Cures and Remedies
Yeast Infections, Reflux, Sore Throats, Sinuses
Other ailments such as yeast infections, acid reflux, sore throats and sinus infections have reportedly been cured with apple cider vinegar.
Apple cider vinegar hasn’t been subject to any scientific studies for these conditions, but you may experience some relief if you decide to give it a try.
To help treat a yeast infection:
Drink 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar in 16 ounces of water 2-3 times daily until the infection clears.
Note: If you do not experience positive results, consult a physician to treat the infection.
Acid reflux causes pain and inflammation that many find hard to relieve. It sounds a little strange that consuming an acid (acetic acid in apple cider vinegar) would help with acid reflux, but there is a lot of anecdotal evidence that it could actually help:
Try a mixture of 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, 1 tablespoon baking soda, and 16 ounces of water.
If you woke up with a sore throat, drinking the same mixture with an added tablespoon of honey can help relieve the pain and aid your immune system.
This natural sore throat elixir has reportedly been used as far back as 377 B.C. by the father of modern medicine himself, Hippocrates.
Some people find using warm water instead is more soothing on the throat. Drink this daily until your throat returns to normal.
Sinus infections can be a painful welcome to changes in the weather.
Drinking the above apple cider vinegar solution can help to flush out mucous and apple cider vinegar’s natural anti-inflammatory properties can help clear the airways.
People who drink apple cider vinegar regularly have reported having fewer colds, this could be due to an antiviral effect.
High Blood Pressure
There are reports of apple cider vinegar positively affecting more serious medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, kidney stones, gout, and diabetes.
Regardless of the findings, it is important to always consult your physician regarding matters of health for the best course of action.
While there is little scientific backing, many report apple cider vinegar as a useful aid in lowering blood pressure.
In one study performed on hypertensive rats, rats given an acetic acid solution in addition to a standard diet for 6 weeks showed a 15-25% reduction in systolic blood pressure as compared to rats not given the acetic acid solution.
Since this study cannot be extrapolated to humans, it is not clear whether acetic acid and apple cider vinegar can down regulate blood pressure.
A study examined the effect of the consumption of vinegar on ischemic heart disease in women. Researchers found that women who consumed oil-and-vinegar salad dressing 5 – 6 times (or more) each week displayed a significantly lower risk of fatal ischemic heart disease than women who consumed the dressing far less frequently.
More research still needs to be done on this to reach a definitive conclusion. Currently we can’t say with certainty that consumption of apple cider vinegar does, or does not help prevent heart disease, but that initial study shows some promise.
If kidney stones affect you or someone you know, apple cider vinegar may be able to provide some relief from the pain and discomfort, and possibly even dissolve the stones.
Kidney stones are hard masses of minerals and acidic salts that can form in the body when urine is highly concentrated. It is a very painful condition. The acetic acid found in apple cider vinegar may help to dissolve the stones, and the alkalizing effect apple cider vinegar has on the blood stream may help the body break down the stones.
Though there is no support to this claim aside from anecdotal reports, apple cider vinegar can supposedly help gout affected areas in a matter of days.
Used topically, soak the affected area in an undiluted bath of apple cider vinegar for 15 minutes. Remove from the area and let it dry, repeating daily until the area feels better.
You can also consume the apple cider vinegar and water mixture detailed earlier to possibly help break up the uric acid crystals that form in the blood stream, responsible for causing the pain and swelling symptomatic of gout.
This mixture can possibly reduce swelling in the joints by helping ease blood flow, therefore reducing pain.
Diabetes and Blood Sugar
This is great news for people with Type II diabetes as well as anyone else who suffers from elevated blood sugar levels.
Many of the studies found a dose-response relationship between the acetic acid (the active component in apple cider vinegar) solution and the glucose and insulin response of the body.
In addition, increased levels of satiety were experienced when apple cider vinegar or acetic acid solution was taken with food.
Apple cider vinegar shows promise as a means to assist with blood sugar level management, but of course it should be an adjunct to proper medical care and most importantly, you should always check with your doctor first.
Other Apple Cider Vinegar Uses
In addition to the numerous health benefits, apple cider vinegar has a number of other interesting uses: a household cleaner, a breath-freshener, even as a way to stop pets from chewing on household items, and more!
To create a natural all-purpose cleaner:
Mix 1 part water with 1 part apple cider vinegar and 2-3 drops of any essential oils you may choose in a spray bottle.
To banish bad breath:
Carefully gargle with ½ tablespoon apple cider vinegar added to a glass of water. Take small swigs and gargle for 10 seconds, repeating until the glass is empty.
As a pet chew deterrent:
If your new puppy is destroying your home by chewing on things he isn’t supposed to, try this simple solution.
Spray the surface of the object with a mixture of 1 part apple cider vinegar and 2 parts white vinegar.
The bitter smell and taste of this mixture has been shown to keep pets away. Bonus: you don’t have to shell out extra cash for the brand name sprays at the pet store!
Get rid of unpleasant odours:
Burned something while you were cooking, or is there a funky smell emanating from that old gym bag? Don’t fret, another great use for apple cider vinegar is to use it to banish harsh odours.
Simply pour a cup of apple cider vinegar into a bowl and let it sit in the room affected by the smell. The vinegar will absorb the odour and have you smelling fresh air in no time.
Apple Cider Vinegar Side Effects and Warnings
With all of these benefits and even more reported uses, is there anything harmful about apple cider vinegar?
Sources such as WebMD do report some side effects, such as decreased levels of potassium if you consume 8 ounces of apple cider vinegar on a daily basis for a long period of time.
There is even a report of a woman who drank 250ml of apple cider vinegar daily for 6 years, who was diagnosed with hypokalemia (low levels of potassium). Hypokalemia is dangerous because your body needs to have a specific balance of nutrients.
There is also evidence that suggests those who take apple cider vinegar with insulin may experience hypokalemia.
The main component of apple cider vinegar – acetic acid – is a weak acid, but it’s still an acid and thus has a corrosive effect, especially when consumed undiluted.
There are also animal studies that have shown that undiluted apple cider vinegar produced lesions and erosion in the stomach, liver, and intestines of the animals.
Other studies suggest that apple cider vinegar is meant to be digested by adding it to foods and drinks, rather than ingesting it in an undiluted and potentially harmful form.
If you love your teeth, never drink undiluted apple cider vinegar, though there are anecdotal reports that it can be extremely harsh on the enamel of your teeth, stripping the enamel away completely over time.
(We couldn’t find any studies to confirm this, but it’s best to err on the side of caution. Besides, undiluted apple cider vinegar has a pretty vile and pungent taste.)
So never, ever drink it undiluted, instead use one of the apple cider recipes in this article.
Apple Cider Vinegar Recipes
There are plenty of ways to add apple cider vinegar to your diet in ways that will dilute the solution and make it easier on your body.
To add some sweetness to an apple cider vinegar drink:
Mix 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, 1 tablespoon honey, and 1 tablespoon pineapple juice in water.
2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in pineapple juice (or any other 100% fruit juice) is a refreshing way to reap the benefits, too.
Or, try swapping out the pineapple juice for 100% grapefruit juice for a tangy twist, too.
Another option is to mix together the following ingredients for an antioxidant cocktail:
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, 2 tablespoons cranberry juice, 1 ½ cups cold water, and 2 teaspoons maple syrup.
Don’t feel like having a big glass of the miracle worker?
To make an apple cider vinegar shot, simply mix together 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar with 1 – 2 tablespoons water and drink it quickly (note, this potent shot isn’t for everyone, and probably shouldn’t be consumed every day).
Dressings, Marinades, and Substitutes
You can also add apple cider vinegar to foods by creating some of these easy and light dressings.
As a salad dressing:
Mix 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar with 3 tablespoons olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.
Drizzle the dressing over salad dishes for a refreshing way to sneak in more apple cider vinegar.
Add some orange juice to create this salad dressing or fruit topper: 1/3 cup orange juice, ¼ cup olive oil, and ¼ cup apple cider vinegar.
Let sit for one hour before topping your dish.
As a marinade:
For a delicious meat or vegetable marinade, mix the following:
½ cup apple cider vinegar, 1/3 cup olive oil, 1 tablespoon honey, and 2 minced cloves of garlic.
When cooking, you can substitute apple cider vinegar with an equal amount of lemon juice for a less acidic, tangier flavour.
Keep in mind that the potential benefits detailed in this article may not apply to lemon juice as they do apple cider vinegar.
Types and Brands of Apple Cider Vinegar
There are many brands of apple cider vinegar that can all be found in your local grocery or health food store.
The most praised brand of apple cider vinegar is Bragg’s, which is a raw, unpasteurized and organic.
You may opt to try any of the other brands, but make sure that it is at least unpasteurized, since heating (through the pasteurization process) destroys the nutrient profile.
Should You Try Apple Cider Vinegar?
With research and reviews supporting and negating the various benefits of apple cider vinegar, whether or not you add it to your healthy diet is ultimately up to you.
Do you cringe at the slightest taste of the vinegar on your tongue? Or does a diluted amount in water or fruit juice invigorate you?
Before attempting to treat any serious medical conditions with a home remedy, or changing your diet in any way, always check with your doctor first – it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Remember: make a conscious effort to make healthy choices daily, and you’ll be on the right track to overall health, with or without apple cider vinegar.