Apple cider vinegar (ACD) has long been used in different home remedies to help treat various conditions. No scientific evidence suggests it can prevent or treat a urinary tract infection (UTI), but it may have some benefits.

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Aya Brackett

Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is a type of vinegar made by fermenting apple cider.

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, such as to treat a UTI, 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.

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 people with a vagina.

Common UTI symptoms include:

  • a burning sensation while urinating
  • pain while urinating or needing to urinate
  • frequent urination
  • needing to urinate even if the bladder is empty
  • blood in the urine
  • foul-smelling urine
  • pressure or cramping in the groin or lower abdomen

If left untreated, it can spread to the kidneys and cause the following symptoms:

  • fever
  • chills
  • lower back pain
  • pain in the flanks
  • nausea
  • vomiting

In addition, older adults with complicated UTIs may experience delirium and confusion.

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

Although ACV has antibacterial and antifungal properties, there’s no scientific evidence to suggest that drinking it can effectively treat or prevent UTIs. In fact, most health experts don’t think that what you eat or drink can prevent or treat a UTI.

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

Your healthcare professional 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.

Though apple cider vinegar can’t help your UTI, it does have many other potential health benefits, and adding it to your diet shouldn’t cause you any trouble. Read on to find out how you can add ACV to your diet.

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 people with vaginas 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.

People have been using ACV for centuries thanks to its health benefits, which may include:

  • Blood sugar control: A review of small clinical trials noted that people who consumed ACV for 8 to 12 weeks had reductions in their blood sugar levels.
  • Weight loss: One small study found that consuming ACV alongside a low-calorie diet increased weight loss compared to the diet alone.
  • Blood fat reduction: In the same weight loss study, researchers also noted that people in the ACV group had lower triglycerides and total cholesterol levels.
  • Antifungal activity: A case report outlines how applying ACV to the mouth for 7 days helped clear up a persistent fungal infection in someone with type 2 diabetes.

However, using ACV isn’t without some drawbacks. For example, consuming acid in the form of ACV can weaken tooth enamel and could even irritate or damage the throat. Be careful applying it to the skin as the National Capital Poison Center (NCPC) notes that it can cause serious burns and irritation. It can also affect your eyes, so be extremely cautious if you’re applying ACV to your skin or face.

In addition, applying ACV to the skin may cause burns and irritation.

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.

Is it safe to drink?

While it’s safe to consume ACV in small amounts, drinking straight ACV can damage your throat and cause tooth enamel erosion. Clinical reports of people burning their throats on ACV are extremely rare, but it is a potential risk.

If you decide to drink ACV, use a straw and rinse your mouth with water afterward to help limit potential tooth enamel damage.

You can also dilute ACV in water, which makes it much easier on your throat and teeth. Mix 1–2 tablespoons (15–30 ml) of ACV in 8 ounces (237 ml) of water to make a dilute ACV solution. Remember that since the acidity of ACV is responsible for many of its benefits, don’t mix it with anything that could neutralize the acid and make it less effective.

There’s no guaranteed way to prevent a UTI, but the following tips may help:

  • Drink lots of fluids, including water, tea, and juice. You can also try watery food like watermelon, salads, and soup.
  • Don’t hold in your urine as this gives bacteria the chance to grow.
  • Avoid bladder irritants, such as caffeine, alcohol, artificial sweeteners, and spicy foods.
  • Wipe from front to back after using the bathroom to prevent bacteria from spreading.
  • Wash your genital area before sex to reduce the chance of bacteria entering your urethra.
  • Urinate immediately after sex to help flush out any bacteria that may have entered your urethra.
  • Take a probiotic supplement daily to help maintain a healthy balance of good bacteria in your body.
  • Avoid using douches, perfumed soaps, or scented feminine hygiene products, which can irritate the urethra and bladder.
  • Ask your doctor about alternative birth control methods as some may encourage a bad balance of bacteria.

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 people with vaginas

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

What is the fastest way to cure a UTI naturally?

There’s no guaranteed way to cure a UTI quickly or naturally and you’ll likely need antibiotics. But, you may be able to find relief from some symptoms with home remedies, including:

  • Drink plenty of liquids to flush out bacteria. Aim for at least one extra liter on top of your usual fluid intake.
  • Try eating cranberries or drinking cranberry juice. Although overall research is inconclusive, some small studies suggest that cranberries may help UTIs and reduce your chances of an infection.
  • Wear loose-fitting clothing made of natural fibers. Synthetic or tight-fitting clothing may trap moisture and allow bacteria to grow.
  • Take a probiotic supplement and consider taking it long-term to prevent future infections.

Can you flush a UTI?

Drinking lots of fluids may help flush out the bacteria causing a UTI or prevent the infection in the first place. A study found that when people added 1.5 liters of water daily to their regular fluid intake, they were much less likely to develop UTIs.

If you think you have a UTI, you should up your fluid intake with water, tea, fruit juice, and soup. You should also avoid diuretics like coffee and alcohol. However, you should still see your doctor to confirm the diagnosis and get started on antibiotics, if necessary.

How long does a UTI last?

Most people have UTI symptoms for 2 to 4 days once they start antibiotics. Unfortunately, in almost 1 in 3 people the infection returns. This is more likely if you’re older or have kidney stones.

Is apple cider vinegar really effective in helping a UTI?

Although some research shows that ACV has antibacterial and antifungal properties, there’s no scientific evidence to suggest that drinking it can effectively treat or prevent UTIs. In fact, most health experts don’t think that what you eat or drink can prevent or treat a UTI.

Therefore, you shouldn’t use ACV as your only method of treatment. If you do opt to try ACV for a UTI, be sure to also seek professional medical care. This is especially important if you experience any severe symptoms, such as difficulty urinating, a fever, or bloody urine. These may be signs of a kidney infection, which requires immediate medical treatment.

Can I use apple cider vinegar while pregnant?

Although no research specifically proves ACV as either safe or unsafe during pregnancy, research suggests that pregnant people should exercise caution with unpasteurized products. Bacteria like Listeria, Salmonella, and Toxoplasma may contaminate these products, which can cause serious infections.

So if you’re pregnant, only consume unpasteurized ACV as part of a dish that’s cooked or opt for pasteurized ACV. However, the process of pasteurization removes many of the probiotic benefits of ACV. Therefore, you may want to avoid it altogether during pregnancy and opt for safer probiotic supplements, which don’t carry these potential risks.

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.