Q: My neighbor swears by apple cider vinegar, and every time I complain about my health, she rants about the vinegar. I haven’t tried it, but I have to say, she looks fairly healthy and never gets sick. Do you think there’s something to it?
P.B., Lodi, California
A: Vinegar has been used for centuries for many purposes, including cleaning, killing weeds and pickling. Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is sold as both a bottled vinegar and a dietary supplement in the United States. It is a popular folk remedy. I don’t think that ACV cures everything, but I do find some studies intriguing. I use ACV almost daily in my kitchen.
Apple cider vinegar is a fermentation product of pulverized apples. It’s primary active ingredient is acetic acid, and many holistic practitioners believe that a little acid can relieve symptoms of reflux disease and heartburn. Sounds strange to you, doesn’t it, but the bitter truth is that symptoms of heartburn and reflux can sometimes be related to insufficient levels of stomach acid (termed hypochlorhydria), not high levels, like many of you who take acid blockers assume.
So the acetic acid in ACV sometimes brings relief to people with certain digestive disorders. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t take ACV without your doctor’s approval, because it could damage the delicate lining of your digestive tract. Here are some other sweet uses for the vinegar:
An animal study published in the British Journal of Nutrition (2006) showed evidence that vinegar could lower cholesterol. The scientists gave rats some acetic acid, and their cholesterol ratio improved. But they had permanent puckers on their face afterwards: go figure.
A small study conducted in 2005 found that people who consume vinegar with meals feel fuller faster! ACV also contains chromium, which helps balance blood sugar and suppresses cravings for carbs. Compounds in ACV appear to help a person break down fats easier, too.
ACV is derived from apples ,which give us malic acid. This substance helps fight infections and also relieves pain. Malic acid may ease joint pain, fibromyalgia and gouty arthriti by dissolving uric acid deposits that form around joints.
This is ACV’s most promising effect. Several studies have concluded that it may help control blood glucose. A 2007 study published in Diabetes Care concluded that people with Type 2 diabetes experienced about a 5 percent reduction in morning blood glucose levels.
Apple cider vinegar contains a lot of enzymes too, as well as minerals and vitamins. The naturally occurring compounds could theoretically interact with diuretics, laxatives, blood-thinners and medications often used to treat diabetes and heart diseases, so run this by your physician before use.
To use ACV, just add two teaspoons to water each day and drink it, or use it as salad dressing. Look for organic; I prefer raw and unfiltered ACV.
Did You Know?
Taking blood pressure pills at night rather than the morning can help offset side effects like dizziness, nausea and daytime fatigue.
Suzy Cohen is a registered pharmacist. The information presented here is not intended to treat, cure or diagnose any condition. Always consult your physician. Have a question for Suzy Cohen? Visit dearpharmacist.com.