Apple cider vinegar is generally made from crushed apples. Bacteria and yeast are added to ferment the liquid. At first, the liquid is similar to a hard apple cider because of the alcohol content. More fermentation changes the alcohol into vinegar.
Organic and raw apple cider vinegar are both allowed to ferment naturally. These liquids are unfiltered and typically take on a brownish, cloudy appearance. This process leaves behind the “mother of apple.” This is a cobweb-like substance found at the bottom of all bottles of organic apple cider vinegar. Non-organic apple cider vinegar is pasteurized, and the mother of apple is removed.
It’s thought that the mother of apple is rich in enzymes, proteins, and pectin. Because of this, organic varieties are considered the gold standard when used to treat health conditions such as acid reflux.
The acetic acid found in apple cider vinegar can provide several health benefits. For some people, acid reflux may be a result of too little stomach acid. Apple cider vinegar may be beneficial because it introduces more acid into the digestive tract. This acid is also effective against several types of bacteria and acts as an anti-microbial agent.
Apple cider vinegar may even help people with diabetes manage blood sugar. Ingesting vinegar can raise your body’s insulin sensitivity. This allows the insulin to move glucose through your body and decrease your blood sugar levels.
Apple cider vinegar could help improve acid reflux in people not taking medications and with minimal risk. However, there’s limited supporting evidence.
One study found that raw or unfiltered apple cider vinegar can prevent heartburn. But more research is needed to determine whether apple cider vinegar is a consistent and reputable way to treat acid reflux.
You may try using apple cider vinegar to relieve acid reflux symptoms, but there’s no guarantee it will work. It’s thought that this home remedy helps balance your stomach pH by neutralizing stomach acid.
It’s generally accepted as safe to consume a small amount of apple cider vinegar. It should be diluted with water. This should relieve any burning sensation caused by the acid in the vinegar.
It can also prevent the acid from damaging the enamel on your teeth. To avoid this, you should drink it through a straw, if possible.
Many people find the taste of apple cider vinegar to be sharp or sour. You may consider adding honey to the solution to taste.
Risks and warnings
Some people may experience side effects after consuming apple cider vinegar. This includes:
- tooth erosion
- blood thinning
- throat irritation
- decreased potassium
These side effects may be worse if you use undiluted or large amounts of apple cider vinegar.
Conventional treatments for acid reflux include prescription and over-the-counter medications and lifestyle changes.
Medications used to treat reflux include:
- antacids to help neutralize stomach acid
- H-2 receptor blockers, such as famotidine (Pepcid), to block the receptors in the stomach that release acid
- proton pump inhibitors, such as omeprazole (Prilosec), to reduce acid production
Lifestyle changes that may help acid reflux include:
- eating smaller meals
- avoiding foods and beverages that trigger heartburn
- quitting smoking
- not lying down after eating
- elevating the head of your bed several inches
Sometimes conventional treatments aren’t enough. Serious complications from acid reflux can include esophageal scarring or ulcers. To avoid these complications, your doctor may recommend a surgery called fundoplication. In this procedure, the upper part of your stomach is wrapped around the lower esophagus. This strengthens the esophageal sphincter to prevent reflux.
Although anecdotal evidence suggests that apple cider vinegar may be a useful remedy, there isn’t a firm medical basis for this treatment. If you do explore this option, remember to:
- Consume apple cider vinegar in small quantities.
- Dilute the vinegar with water.
- Speak with your doctor if your symptoms don’t improve or worsen with use.
You should work with your doctor to create a treatment plan that’s best for you, whether it’s lifestyle changes, medications, or a home remedy.