Vinegar has been used as a disinfectant and treatment for numerous health conditions, from treating skin issues and wound healing to diabetes control.
Recently, apple cider vinegar (ACV) has been touted as a natural remedy for a variety of health conditions, including allergies. Many of these claims haven’t been substantiated by scientific research, though. Let’s take a look at what research is available.
When your immune systems overreacts to a substance that’s typically not harmful — such as pollen, animal dander, or dust — you have an allergic reaction.
During this allergic reaction, your body releases histamines to fight off the allergens. The release of histamines causes the physical symptoms often associated with allergies, such as:
There’s not much scientific data to back up the claim that ACV can treat allergies. The studies that are available are primarily small, short-term trials or studies on animals.
Advocates of natural healing will contend that the lack of medical studies on ACV’s ability to treat allergies doesn’t mean it isn’t effective. They argue there’s a reason why ACV has withstood the test of time.
There are a few studies that can be used to help support their argument. They include:
Healthier immune system
A 2017 study found that when ACV (along with a probiotic) were added to the diet of carp, more protective enzymes and antibodies were identified in their mucus. This could help curb allergies — if the results found in the fish were the same as in humans.
Reducing inflammation in the body could help make allergy attacks more manageable. Some research shows ingesting ACV can provide the following anti-inflammatory effects:
- Reduce blood pressure. A 2001 study on rats showed ACV lowered their blood pressure.
- Anti-glycemic effects. Results from a 1998 and 2005 study indicate that ACV can reduce the effects of blood sugar and insulin spikes associated with starchy meals.
That being said, any benefits of ACV on allergies are theoretical and remain unproven. Any difference in your allergy symptoms could just be a placebo effect.
There are two basic types of ACV: distilled and raw or organic. People who use ACV for purported health benefits suggest that raw, organic ACV be used. They claim the distilling process may destroy ACV’s nutrients, minerals, and enzymes.
One way to tell the difference between the two is that distilled ACV is commonly clear. Raw, organic ACV has a strandlike substance at the bottom of the bottle called the “mother.”
In most circumstances, ACV is considered harmless for most people. However, it can pose some health risks. They include the following:
- ACV has the potential to interact with other medications you use such, as insulin and diuretics.
- ACV is very acidic and can irritate skin and mucous membranes.
- ACV can intensify acid reflux.
- ACV increases acid into your system. This might be hard for your kidneys to process and harder if you have chronic kidney disease.
- ACV can erode tooth enamel.
ACV is a popular alternative treatment for a variety of conditions, including allergies. These health claims, however, aren’t supported by much medical evidence.
If you’re considering trying ACV to address your allergy symptoms, talk with your doctor about the pros and cons, recommended dosages, and potential interactions with your current medications.