Vinegar has an extensive history. Residue of it has even been found in urns dating back to 3000 B.C. People can make it from a variety of products, including fermented apples, grapes, and grains.
People make apple cider vinegar (ACV) by crushing fresh apples and squeezing the liquid into barrels along with bacteria and yeast, where it’s allowed to ferment into alcohol. Then, they add acetic acid bacteria to convert the alcohol into vinegar. The final result is a rich, brownish liquid with a sharp flavor and aroma. Organic ACV often has thin strings of living bacteria in it, known as “mother of vinegar.” These strings are safe to consume.
ACV gained popularity in the 1950s when Dr. DeForest Clinton Jarvis attributed healing powers to it in his book “Folk Medicine.” Since then, people have used ACV to try to treat health conditions, including:
- high cholesterol
- weight gain
- body odor
Scientific research findings support some of the claimed benefits of ACV, but researchers haven’t evaluated all of the claims about ACV.
Some people believe that taking regular doses of vinegar can help stabilize blood sugar levels if you have diabetes. The research findings have been somewhat mixed. According to a review article published in Nutrition Reviews, multiple studies have supported these claims. Some scientists believe that ACV may have similar effects as acarbose and metformin, two types of insulin-controlling medications. Other studies have found no benefits of using vinegar to manage blood sugar metabolism.
More large-scale and long-term studies are needed to learn if ACV is an effective complementary treatment for diabetes. Talk to your doctor before adding it to your diabetes management plan.
Regular doses of ACV may also improve your cholesterol levels. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is also known as bad cholesterol. It can build up in your arteries and put you at risk of developing heart disease, high blood pressure, and other health conditions. High-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL), or good cholesterol, removes LDL from your arteries and may help ward off heart attacks and strokes.
In a study published in Life Science Journal, researchers found evidence that ACV can help lower LDL levels and raise HDL levels in rats that have diabetes. Other types of vinegar, including grape, sugarcane, and coconut vinegar, also appeared to improve rats’ cholesterol levels. ACV and grape vinegar were the most effective.
More research to assess the effects of ACV on cholesterol levels in humans is necessary. According to the review article published in Nutrition Reviews, a few human studies suggest that vinegar can lower LDL levels in people. But researchers haven’t found benefits of vinegar for raising HDL levels in people.
Some dieters also use ACV. Most ACV weight loss guides recommend mixing 1 to 2 tablespoons of vinegar in water and drinking the mixture before each meal. Proponents suggest it may help:
- suppress your appetite
- increase your metabolic rate
- reduce water retention
Some scientists have found evidence supporting the use of ACV as a weight loss aid. The review article published in Nutrition Reviews describes several animal studies in which vinegar has been linked to weight loss, fat loss, or both in rats. Research reported in the journal Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry also found that human participants who consumed daily doses of vinegar lost more body weight and body fat than those in a placebo group.
Research evidence supporting the use of vinegar for weight and fat loss is still limited. More long-term studies on humans are necessary.
Some people use ACV to treat other conditions as well. Scientists have yet to study many of these home remedies. Talk to your doctor about the potential benefits and risks before using ACV as a natural remedy.
Some people believe that ACV can help clear acne. They recommend applying a mixture of 1 part ACV and 3 parts water directly to your skin using a cotton ball. Leave the mixture on your skin for 10 minutes. Repeat this procedure three times daily. If your acne is severe, leaving the mixture on your skin overnight might help clear it.
Body odor and bad breath
ACV also has purported benefits for people with bad breath or body odor. Consider making a homemade mouthwash to freshen your breath by adding 1/2 tablespoon of ACV to 1 cup of water. Rinse your mouth for 10 seconds.
Some people suggest applying undiluted ACV to your underarms to eliminate body odor. You can also try adding 1/3 cup of ACV to a footbath to treat foot odor.
Constipation and diarrhea
Some people use ACV to treat certain stomach problems, such as constipation and diarrhea. They suggest adding 2 tablespoons of ACV to a glass of water and drinking the mixture. Consider adding honey or other natural sweeteners to improve the taste.
ACV is generally considered safe to drink or apply to your skin, but it does pose some health risks. For example, drinking acidic substances such as ACV can cause your tooth enamel to deteriorate. This can increase your dental sensitivity, give your teeth a yellowish appearance, and leave your teeth vulnerable to decay and damage. After drinking ACV, rinse your mouth out with water to lower your risk of dental problems.
Consuming too much ACV may also lower your potassium levels and weaken your bones. It may also cause nausea or other stomach pain.
ACV has shown some promise for treating a variety of conditions and promoting better health. For example, some research evidence suggests that consuming regular doses of ACV might help:
- stabilize your blood sugar
- improve your blood cholesterol levels
- promote weight or fat loss
More studies to assess the potential benefits and risks of using ACV for these purposes are necessary. Many other claims about ACV’s health benefits lack supporting research evidence, including its purported benefits for treating:
- body odor
- bad breath
Always talk to your doctor before trying ACV or other natural remedies to treat a health condition. They can help you assess the potential benefits and risks of using it.