There’s currently no scientific evidence that apple cider vinegar can help directly treat migraines outside of anecdotal evidence. However, there are many health benefits of apple cider vinegar that have been researched. Most of the studies refer to raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar. Some of these could indirectly help treat headaches, but more research is needed.
Potential benefits for headaches
Apple cider vinegar may aid in digestion, including regulating blood sugar spikes. It’s possible that it could help prevent headaches or migraines caused by blood sugar or digestion problems. One study, for example, found that apple cider vinegar can help increase insulin sensitivity in people with diabetes.
Apple cider vinegar has plenty of potassium, which could also potentially help prevent migraines.
It’s thought that inhaling steam vapors of apple cider vinegar may also help with sinus headaches.
1. Apple cider vinegar and honey
To get those great digestion benefits, you need to drink the apple cider vinegar. Mix 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and 1 teaspoon of honey into an 8-ounce glass of water, and drink it daily. There’s anecdotal evidence that this can help prevent and treat migraines.
2. Apple cider vinegar on a cold compress
Soak a clean washcloth in cold apple cider vinegar for several minutes. Wring out the cloth and apply the compress to your forehead. The cold compress can help soothe the pain. You can also add migraine-fighting essential oils to the compress, like peppermint oil or stress-fighting lavender.
3. Breathe in apple cider vinegar vapor
Breathing in a combination of steam and apple cider vinegar vapor may help offer relief from sinus infections and the headaches they can cause. Mix about 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar with 2 cups of water. Heat the mixture until it boils, and then inhale the steam for about 3 minutes.
Risks and complications
Apple cider vinegar is generally regarded as safe. It has much fewer side effects than many of the medications used to treat chronic headaches or migraines. That said, some risks or possible complications exist.
You should talk to your doctor about using apple cider vinegar for anything if you have diabetes or prediabetes, as it can affect your blood sugar. If you do decide to use apple cider vinegar as a treatment, make sure to measure your blood sugar more often until you know how it affects you.
People with gastroparesis, or a slow emptying stomach, should also be careful when consuming large amounts of apple cider vinegar, as it’s thought to help slow digestion. Gastroparesis can occur in people both with and without diabetes.
Apple cider vinegar is also very acidic, although raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar may contain less acid. In small doses this isn’t a concern, but in large, frequent doses, it could have effects like damaging tooth enamel or burning the esophagus.
If you’re concerned, talk to your doctor and see if apple cider vinegar as a treatment is safe for you.
Other headache treatments
There are a number of different treatments you can use to help relieve your headaches or migraines. If you need a quick fix to solve a headache once it’s come on, you can use over-the-counter medications like acetaminophen (Tylenol) or aspirin.
If you experience regular or severe headaches, your doctor may prescribe preventative medication. These help you to avoid headaches, stopping them all together. These medications include propranolol or topiramate.
In some cases, alternative remedies like meditation, heat therapy, and massage can be used to relieve headache pain. If stress is thought to be partially responsible, your doctor may also recommend cognitive behavioral therapy to learn additional stress management techniques.
There’s no definitive scientific evidence that apple cider vinegar can help treat headaches or migraines. But the positive health effects it has on other parts of the body could help reduce or prevent headache symptoms.
Some lifestyle changes that can help prevent headaches and migraines include:
- staying hydrated
- getting enough sleep
- managing and reducing stress as much as possible
- practicing good posture
- quitting smoking
- reducing alcohol use
If you’re having regular headaches increasing in severity or frequency, make an appointment to see your doctor. They may recommend other treatments, including both prescription medications and alternative remedies.