A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection in any part of your urinary system, including your kidneys, bladder, urethra, and ureters. Most UTIs affect the lower urinary tract, which includes the bladder and the urethra.

UTIs can be painful and cause annoying urinary symptoms. Typically, they’re treated with antibiotics, since bacteria is the cause of the infection. UTIs are more common in women.

Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is a type of vinegar made by fermenting apple cider. Like all vinegars, ACV has been used in traditional folk medicine to treat a variety of conditions.

Recently, ACV has been touted as a cure-all. However, many of these claims are exaggerated and lacking in scientific support.

Studies of ACV have shown promising results in the area of diabetes management. There’s also evidence that it supports weight loss in rats. Research supporting other uses of ACV is limited.

While there’s evidence that vinegar has antimicrobial properties, this research has primarily been related to the use of vinegar in food preservation.

There’s not yet any scientific evidence to suggest that ACV can treat a UTI. But it’s likely to have some benefits.

Apple cider vinegar has many potential health benefits. Adding some to your diet shouldn’t cause you any trouble, and you may find that it makes you feel healthier.

It’s always possible that ACV could prevent future UTIs — but don’t count on it to treat a current infection.

Don’t give your UTI the time to spread to your kidneys, which can be dangerous. Seek treatment from a medical professional.

Your healthcare provider can test your urine to see if bacteria, a virus, or fungus is causing your infection. Once they determine the cause, they can prescribe you the right treatment.

Antibiotics are usually needed to treat UTIs, since bacteria is often the culprit. It’s important to take your prescribed antibiotics exactly as your healthcare provider tells you to.

Misusing or overusing antibiotics contributes to global antibiotic resistance, or bacteria becoming resistant to treatment. Antibiotics can also affect your gut microbiome.

1. Add ACV to cranberry juice

Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of raw, unfiltered ACV to a glass of unsweetened cranberry juice. Cranberry juice is the most commonly used natural treatment for UTIs.

Although clinical trials suggest that cranberries can’t treat or cure a UTI, cranberries may help prevent UTIs in women with frequently recurring infections.

2. Add ACV to water

Add 1 teaspoon of ACV to an 8-ounce glass of water, eight times per day. Drinking extra water will make you pee more frequently. This is a great way to naturally flush out harmful bacteria.

3. Use ACV on a salad

Mix some raw, unfiltered ACV with olive oil for a deliciously tart salad dressing. Add 1 teaspoon of honey for a sweeter, fruity flavor. It may not do much for your UTI, but it will taste great with a salad full of root vegetables and winter squashes.

4. Add ACV to green tea

Try adding 1 tablespoon of ACV to a cinnamon-spiced herbal tea. The spices may make the taste of ACV easier to tolerate, especially if you add a few drops of honey.

Use this mixture in place of your morning coffee or afternoon soda. Drinks containing caffeine can irritate the bladder and aggravate your UTI symptoms.

5. Take ACV on the go

Grab one of these to-go shots of ACV from Ethan’s and drink it on your way to the doctor. Most UTIs need to be treated with antibiotics. Make an appointment with your primary care doctor or stop by your local reproductive health clinic to receive testing and treatment.

Apple cider vinegar is highly acidic, so take care to avoid irritating your skin with it. Never apply ACV directly to the skin without diluting it first.

Using too much ACV, or using undiluted ACV, can cause tooth enamel erosion. Clinical reports of people burning their throats on ACV are extremely rare, but it is a potential risk.

Make an appointment with your doctor as soon as you notice any of the signs and symptoms of a UTI. Common symptoms include:

  • an intense, persistent urge to urinate
  • a burning sensation when you urinate
  • urinating small amounts at a time, frequently
  • urine that appears cloudy or has a strong smell
  • urine that appears red, pink, or brownish
  • pelvic pain in women

Lower UTIs are easily treatable with prescribed medication. Your doctor can also give you a medication that numbs the burning sensation during urination.

Left untreated, UTIs can lead to serious complications, including:

  • recurrent infections
  • kidney damage
  • sepsis

Apple cider vinegar may have many health benefits, but it’s not a cure for UTIs.

If you have a UTI, make an appointment with your doctor. A short course of medication should relieve your symptoms within a few days.