Folklores associated with apple cider vinegar are as colorful as it is practical. It has been used as a food preservative, an elixir that heals wounds, an antiseptic and much more due to its acetic acid content. Legend says Cleopatra dissolved precious pearls in vinegar and used it as a love potion for Anthony. It is said that Hippocrates used it for treating wounds. Vinegar teas were used in the 18th century to manage diabetes and lower blood sugar.
Over the years, as science started supporting these claims with studies, and many more benefits of apple cider vinegar started coming to the fore. The organic acids present in ACV have an antimicrobial, antifungal and antibacterial effect on our skin and body. This piece is an attempt to marry years of traditional belief with scientific validation.
For centuries, apple cider vinegar has been used as home remedies to treat several health ailments. There are many claims such as – ACV reduces blood glucose level in the body, increases insulin sensitivity, reduces blood cholesterol, has proved to be efficient in reducing inflammation, gives relief from indigestion and so on.
Let’s take a closer look at the scientifically proven health benefits of apple cider vinegar to separate the truths from the myths.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
What is Apple Cider Vinegar?
Apple Cider Vinegar is a type of vinegar that is made from apple juice. It is made by chopping apples, covering them with water and leaving them at room temperature until the natural sugars ferment and form ethanol.
In this process, the sugar in the apple is fermented by the yeast and bacteria that are added to the cider. This turns it into alcohol and then vinegar. Bacteria then convert this ethanol into acetic acid. Like any other vinegar, the key component is acetic acid although it also contains lactic acid, citric acid, and malic acid.
15 Proven Benefits Of Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar brings with it lots of health benefits which are discussed in detail below. Aside from the direct health benefits, apple cider vinegar reduces food cravings by inducing satiety. It is also filled with beneficial nutrients that are good for health. It is indeed a nutritional powerhouse that contains:
- Amino acids
ACV May Lower Blood Sugar
There are two types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes also called diabetes insipidus and Type 2 diabetes, called diabetes mellitus.
In Type 1 diabetes, our immune system destroys the insulin-making beta cells in the pancreas. This condition is diagnosed among children and young people. Sometimes it is known as juvenile diabetes. Beta cells can also get damaged because of injury or disease of the pancreas. In both these cases, the person needs to take additional insulin.
In Type 2 diabetes, the body’s cells fail to respond to insulin. This leads to lesser absorption of glucose leaving more glucose circulating in the bloodstream. Diet modification can play a crucial part in Type 2 Diabetes.
A study on 10 subjects with Type 2 diabetes with apple cider vinegar showed significant improvement in postprandial insulin sensitivity. Acetic acid is one of the most important components of this vinegar and it has shown to suppress disaccharidase activity. It has also proved efficient in raising glucose-6-phosphate concentration in skeletal muscle. The study showed that apple cider vinegar may improve sensitivity to insulin by 19-34 percent, thereby lowering the blood sugar level. Both these activities possess similar physiological effects to metformin or acarbose, which are medicines used for this purpose.
In another study, that was done with 4 men and 7 women, aged 40-72 years diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, consumption of 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar before sleeping reduced fasting blood sugar level by 4 percent the following morning. These studies show that apple cider vinegar does help people with insulin resistance by enhancing the manner in which the liver absorbs the sugar from our blood.
Summary: Consuming apple cider vinegar before bedtime reduces fasting blood sugar by 4 percent the next day morning. It also improves insulin function and lowers postprandial blood sugar levels.
ACV May Increase Satiety
Acetic acid, which is the main component of apple cider vinegar, was found to suppress body fat accumulation in animals recently.
It was a 12-week study that was done amongst 144 obese Japanese. They were divided into three groups and made to consume 1 tablespoon of vinegar, 2 tablespoons of vinegar or a placebo drink every day. Alcohol intake restriction was there. There was no restriction on diet.
Those who consumed 1 tablespoon of vinegar per day showed a considerable amount of weight loss, a decrease in body fat percentage, a decrease in waist circumference and a lower triglyceride level.
When the 2 tablespoon vinegar consuming subject group was studied, it was found that all these above-mentioned parameters increased further. There was more weight loss, the body fat percentage reduced more and so did the waist circumference. The placebo group gained a little weight with a little increase in their waist circumference.
Summary: A Japanese study confirmed the effect of apple cider vinegar directly on weight loss, reduction in waist circumference and decreased body fat percentage.
ACV Helps Treat Sunburn
Sunburn is the result of too much exposure to the sun. Sunburn can range from mild sunburn to severe sunburn. Mild sunburn includes skin redness and pain while severe sunburn includes skin burning and getting blisters, severe fluid loss, infection.
Apple cider vinegar, when added to a cup to a bath, has been shown to help balance the pH ( acid or alkalinity) of sunburned skin and promote healing. Apple cider vinegar with its anti-itching properties has shown to be effective in healing injuries and wounds.
A study on rabbits who were wounded and treated with apple cider vinegar and antibiotics separately showed similar healing capability. However, using a combination of equal amounts of apple cider vinegar and antibiotic lead to more rapid and better healing.
Summary: Apple cider vinegar reduces the itching and pain that accompanies sunburn when mixed with water and used.
ACV for Acne Treatment
The use of vinegar to fight infections and other conditions are dated back in history to Hippocrates, who recommended a special kind of vinegar preparation for cleaning ulcerations and treating sores. Investigations have demonstrated the effectiveness of diluted vinegar for the treatment of ear infection and treating jellyfish sting.
Apple cider vinegar is also recommended for treating nail fungus, head lice, and warts. Lack of enough study in this field doesn’t prove the theory scientifically but its addition to several tested home remedies confirms its efficacy. Apple cider vinegar is high in pectin. This polysaccharide that occurs naturally in apples may play a role in improving the skin’s barrier
Summary: The organic acids that are present in apple cider vinegar are antimicrobial and antibacterial in nature and may kill acne-causing bacteria. It should be used only in diluted forms to avoid chemical burn.
ACV for Sore Throat Treatment
A sore throat can be caused by bacteria, viruses, and allergies. Some people claim that sore throats can be soothed by apple cider vinegar. As apple cider vinegar has antibacterial property, it may help in the sore throat caused by bacteria.
1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar mixed with 2 tablespoons of honey in a large mug of warm water may suppress a cough. 1-2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar taken with a cup of green tea and lemon may reduce inflammation.
Gargling for 20-30 seconds with warm water mixed with salt and 1-2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar gives relief from sore throat.
Summary: The antibacterial property of Apple Cider Vinegar may help in combating sore throat when used in diluted form with green tea or warm water.
ACV is a Natural Laxative
Apple cider vinegar has organic acids that have been proved to be efficient in improving digestion. By lowering the gastric pH, it converts the inactive pepsinogen to active pepsin that results in effective protein hydrolysis.
The lactic acid in ACV reported to reduce gastric pH and delay the multiplication of an enterotoxigenic E.coli. These acids are intermediary products in the Krebs cycle and act as an energy source that prevents tissue breakdown resulting from gluconeogenesis and lipolysis.
The organic acids, malic acid, and acetic acid enhance the total tract digestibility and improve growth performance. They increase protein utilization. The pectin in apple cider vinegar may help improve digestion. Apple cider vinegar also helps in getting rid of heartburn, reduces bloating and improves the overall digestion.
Summary: Apple Cider Vinegar has been used as a home remedy since ages for improving digestion due to its organic acids and pectin content.
ACV May Improve Insulin Sensitivity
Insulin is a hormone that is produced by the beta cells of your pancreas. It is responsible for the uptake of sugar from the circulatory blood in the body by the cells.
Insulin sensitivity refers to the degree of sensitivity of the body cells in response to insulin. High insulin sensitivity helps the cells to uptake sugar more efficiently, reducing blood sugar levels.
Insulin sensitivity varies between people and is dependent on the lifestyle and dietary factors in addition to the genetic factor. Studies have shown that consumption of apple cider vinegar by nondiabetic insulin-resistant subjects showed a significant increase in insulin sensitivity followed by better uptake of blood sugar. This reduced the circulatory blood sugar in the body.
Summary: Apple Cider Vinegar may increase insulin sensitivity of the cells which can lead to better uptake of blood sugar.
ACV May Help Lower Cholesterol
High triglyceride and high cholesterol levels increase a person’s risk of cardiovascular diseases and stroke. Some evidence suggests that consuming apple cider vinegar may help lower both triglycerides and cholesterol.
In a 12 week study, obese people who were in a low-calorie diet consumed apple cider vinegar. It was found that participants not only reduced a considerable amount of weight but also lowered triglycerides. It also showed an increase in the high-density lipoprotein concentration (HDL). This is referred to as good cholesterol and good for health.
Summary: Apple Cider Vinegar has been shown to lower the circulatory triglyceride in the blood and increase the good cholesterol in the body.
ACV May Help Reduce Blood Pressure
Apple cider vinegar has shown to reduce blood triglyceride and increase good cholesterol in the body. This reduces the markers that are responsible for cardiac problems resulting in good heart health.
Several studies have shown that consumption of apple cider vinegar lowers the blood pressure level. Vinegar and acetic acid can decrease serum renin and angiotensin-converting enzyme activities that in turn lowers blood pressure.
However, due to the lack of proper evidence in the field of human and apple cider vinegar’s benefit in blood pressure, more work needs to be done.
Apple cider vinegar helps control the hormone, renin, which is produced by our kidney. This hormone is responsible for constricting and dilating the blood vessels. As the blood vessels are constricted, the blood pressure rises. Apple cider vinegar keeps the vessels relaxed thereby lowering the blood pressure.
Summary: Apple Cider Vinegar may lower your blood pressure by relaxing the blood vessels. The organic acids in it decrease serum renin and other enzymes that lower blood pressure.
ACV May Help Decrease Cancer Risks
Nobel Prize winner Otto Warburg and his coworkers suggested that one of the main reasons for cancer was a high level of acidity and low level of oxygen in the body. His observations confirmed that cancer cells produce lactic acid while growing. So it was concluded that reduction in the acidity of the blood may kill the cancer cells.
Apple cider vinegar became a home remedial method in doing so with the belief that it alkalizes the blood, unlike other vinegar. Hence, ACV may have the potential to decrease the risk of cancer although more studies need to be done.
Summary: Apple Cider Vinegar kills may help destroy cancer cells by reducing the acidity of the blood.
ACV May Help Treat Yeast Infections
A woman’s vagina always contains a small amount of yeast which stays in harmony with her immune system. When this balance is disrupted, the yeast can grow quickly and can cause infection.
One of the home remedies that have been used for a long time is soaking in an apple cider vinegar bath. It may offer relief as the vinegar helps restore normal acidity to the vagina.
Two cups of vinegar added to a shallow warm bath and soaking for 15 minutes may help relieve the symptoms in 3-4 days.
Summary: Apple cider vinegar used in diluted form with warm water has been shown to help in combating yeast-related infection.
ACV May Reduce Inflammation
Inflammation is an important part of the immune system’s response to injury and infection. It is a defense mechanism.
People believe that apple cider vinegar contains several anti-inflammatory properties that reduce inflammation and may help in several arthritis symptoms. Several studies have proven that vinegars have anti-inflammatory effects, though studies on ACV regarding this topic are less.
Summary: Apple cider vinegar may have anti-inflammatory properties that reduce inflammation. More studies are required to confirm this point.
ACV for Stress Relief
A glass of warm water with a tablespoon of ACV or an ACV capsule may help you relax and sleep better.
Drinking one or two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar before a meal can help in the breakdown of proteins into amino acids which creates tryptophan.
Tryptophan releases serotonin which is a neurotransmitter that calms our nerves and soothes our mind. It is one of the ‘feel-good’ neurotransmitters. This relieves us from stress and combats insomnia.
Summary: Apple cider vinegar may combat stress by producing tryptophan that releases serotonin, a neurotransmitter that has a calming effect on the nerves.
ACV Help Reduces Dandruff
In a 2017 study, published by Galen Medical Journal was shown that the topical application of the flowering herb Althaea officinalis combined with vinegar resolved seborrheic dermatitis in a 32-year-old woman.
Apple cider vinegar has been known to combat persistent flakes, itchiness, and irritation when diluted with water and used.
Vinegar’s acetic acid may alter the scalp’s pH making it harder for the yeast to grow. One of the biggest reasons for dandruff is unbalanced scalp pH.
Summary: The acetic acid in apple cider vinegar when used in diluted form, on the scalp, combats persistent flakes, itchiness, and irritation.
ACV is Good For Skin
Apple cider vinegar is produced by a fermentation process on apple cider by the yeast. The resultant acids are acetic acid, citric acid, and malic acid that have antibacterial and antifungal properties. Because of these properties, ACV helps to keep the skin pores bacteria, oil, and dust-free. They are beneficial in sunburn, acne, and wrinkles.
ACV also contains vitamins, enzymes and mineral salts that are beneficial for the skin. Apple cider vinegar toner, apple cider vinegar face wash, and apple cider vinegar spot remover are sold in the market as beneficial skin products.
The alpha-hydroxy-acid in ACV removes the dead skin cells and reveals new healthy skin thereby leaving it soft and supple. The astringent property of ACV helps in increasing the blood flow in the skin and minimizing the pores, which is a great remedy for people with oily skin. It helps in regulating the pH level of the skin.
Summary: The organic acids in ACV helps the skin pores remain clear and oil-free. ACV is used in different forms for its cleansing effect on the skin.
The Recommended Dosage of Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is available in both filtered and unfiltered form. Apple cider vinegar is also available in pills or gummies form. Filtered apple cider is clear light brown in color. Unfiltered and unpasteurized ACV is dark, cloudy sediments at the bottom of the bottle. It is known as the ‘mother of vinegar’ or simply ‘the mother’. This sediment contains acetic acid bacteria.
Apple cider vinegar can be consumed in many different ways:
- It can be mixed with warm water, about 1-2 tablespoons per cup of water.
- It can be incorporated in salad dressing recipes and marinade recipes.
- It can be made into tonic by mixing it with lemon juice and adding it in fruit juice.
Considering its potential use, apple cider vinegar is used but in different amounts in accordance with the necessity. Four teaspoons of apple cider vinegar (20 ml) diluted in water and taken before a high carb meal can reduce the spike in blood sugar. One tablespoon of apple cider vinegar (15 ml) mixed with 100 ml of water after dinner may improve the symptoms of PCOD.
15-30 ml of apple cider vinegar daily if consumed for several months may increase weight loss in obese adults. The same amount before a meal if taken aids indigestion.
The Side Effects Of Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is generally safe for consumption as long as you don’t try it to use it without diluting it in water or other liquids such as teas and broth. The possible side effects of drinking apple cider vinegar include:
- Delay in stomach emptying which may worsen symptoms of gastroparesis.
- It may lower the potassium level in the blood that may affect bone health.
- Digestive side effects like loss of appetite.
- It may cause potential throat burn.
- It may weaken dental enamel.
- May cause skin burns.
- It may interact with certain drugs like Lanoxin, diuretic drugs and medicines that are used for diabetes.
Most of these side effects can be avoided by starting with just a teaspoon of ACV in a glass of warm water instead of attempting to drink it directly or using larger doses in a glass of water. Using ACV capsules are safer with consideration to protecting dental enamel. To avoid drug interactions, ensure you discuss with your doctor before adding any such dietary supplements, whether its liquid ACV or in capsule form.
The Final Note
Apple cider vinegar is calorie-free, flavourful and has many health benefits. Apple cider vinegar has been used since ages for cooking and as natural medicine. Through the ages, mankind has reaped the benefits of apple cider vinegar ranging from its cholesterol-lowering effect, increase in insulin sensitivity, antibacterial and antifungal impact, aiding in weight reduction, effectiveness in maintaining good skin and hair and the list goes on.
The traditional forms of human wellness have been passed down from generation to generation. However, science has finally managed to connect the dots of scientific evidence which are the building blocks of its health benefits from the myriad uses of apple cider vinegar. Studies conducted on animals and humans have positively proven the mechanism by which it works but more study needs to be done in this field.
Apple cider vinegar is safe to consume in low amounts but may cause erosion of tooth enamel or stomach upset in some people. Large amounts may be unsafe to consume for a prolonged duration.