As anyone with IBS will know, when your symptoms are playing havoc and taking over your daily life, you'll try anything to fix it.
In my 10 years of IBS-related trial and error, I've tried eating activated charcoal, had sessions of hypnotherapy, muscle whispering massages, drank aloe vera morning and night, and tried about 40 different brands of probiotics. If it promised to somehow relieve digestive symptoms, I refused to leave any stone unturned.
And so, while some may turn their nose up, I'm sure other people with IBS could empathize with my plight. Because while some may prefer it on their chips or salad, about six months ago, I began drinking apple cider vinegar (ACV) — on the rocks.
Well… technically diluted, so I suppose that isn't quite as hardcore!
Read on to find out how it affected my IBS symptoms and my overall digestive health.
1. My bloat subsided
The relief from bloating and excess gas that ACV claimed was probably what tempted me to try it in the first place. At the time, I was suffering with severe bloating after meals — especially lunch and dinner — and, despite sticking to lighter dishes, I always seemed to have to undo my trousers and spend the evening feeling rather uncomfortable. I hoped that this strange concoction would help me feel more normal — and actually enjoy my food rather than worry about the effect it would have on my tummy.
After just one “dose” of ACV, I noticed a huge difference in how little I felt bloated after meals. I felt lighter and less weighed down. The afternoon slump just never arrived, and rather than having sugar cravings at night, I felt satisfied enough after dinner that I bypassed my usual treat.
As the weeks went by, I almost forgot what bloating felt like until I forgot to drink it one day — and was shocked at how much of a difference it was making. No longer did I have to go to bed nursing a painful food baby!
So why is this the case? Well, some of the main causes of bloating are an imbalanced stomach pH, a lack of enzymes and probiotics, and an overgrowth of candida, which can cause other issues. ACV possesses antibacterial properties that may be helpful in the treatment of bloating, as it stimulates the hydrochloric acid in your stomach and assists in the healthy breakdown of foods, without creating harmful toxins. This digestive regulation can help you feel less bloated!
2. I began sleeping better
The ancient Greeks were among the first to discover that ACV has a plethora of impressive health benefits and began using it as a natural antibiotic and disinfectant. I actually use it to descale my kettle, too!
Later on, people began seeing its impact on insomnia, too. ACV may trigger the release of a substance called tryptophan, which is metabolized into serotonin, promoting overall general health. It may help with that “too tired” feeling that can sometimes make our brain go haywire right when we're trying to drift off to sleep. It also may promote deeper, longer, and more restful sleep!
I first noticed the benefits when my boyfriend asked whether I was sleeping longer. Apparently, I'd always complain of feeling tired in the mid-afternoon (oops) and I hadn't mentioned it for a few weeks. Looking back, I realized that it wasn’t that I was sleeping longer, I just didn't wake up feeling like I wanted to hit snooze, nor did I fancy a nap at 3 pm.
3. My skin cleared up
A few years ago, I bought some ACV from my local health food store as a dermatologist had mentioned it may be worth trying to help with my dry skin and rosacea. I was advised to dab a diluted mix on twice a day. However, other than smelling like a stale chip shop, I didn't notice any difference and gave it up.
ACV may help with a multitude of skin issues, including eczema and acne, although more research is needed. What I didn't realize was that drinking it was the only way that I could fully take advantage of its benefits.
So why on earth would it help with your skin? Apple cider vinegar helps to form malic acid, which has antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties. It assists in balancing your pH, so if your skin is too oily or too dry, it may help to normalize things.
Since starting to drink it daily, along with a combination of topical treatments — once a week I exfoliate and use ACV in my homemade mix — I've noticed a vast difference. My skin has almost cleared up and it's far easier to manage. The dryness has subsided massively and the pesky red, flushed patches are few and far between.
4. My sensitive scalp healed
Most recommendations for using ACV to help clear up sensitive and flaky skin advise making your own hair mask by combining it with water and essential oils — I suppose to help combat the smell. However, I found I obtained the most benefit when I started drinking it daily. The tight, itchiness that I used to have disappeared within a week, and any residue I could clear up with a few spritzes of diluted solution.
So is it actually good for your scalp? It can be! It can give your hair shine and promote growth! ACV is also a disinfectant, so it can kill any fungi or bacteria that flourish on a dry scalp, reducing infections and itching, and killing any internal yeast
How to take it
Most people, including me, recommend 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar diluted in water per day, before meals. As it can be bad for your teeth, I recommend a ratio of 1 part ACV to 3 parts water. Be sure to buy the organic version so that it contains all the goodness without anything added!
Regardless of whether my story has tempted you to try it out for yourself, I can't mask the fact that the flavor can be difficult to stand, and has a very persistent aftertaste. So, I'd recommend drinking it all at once, versus sipping it. To help it go down a little easier, perhaps mix in some orange juice or cordial.
While some research suggests there may be health benefits for certain conditions, more is still needed to evaluate all of its claims. This is one person’s experience and everyone is different. It may affect you differently. Talk with your doctor before trying ACV or other natural remedies to treat a health condition. They’ll be able to help you weigh the benefits and risks to decide if it’s right for you.
Scarlett Dixon is a U.K.-based journalist, lifestyle blogger, and YouTuber who runs networking events in London for bloggers and social media experts. She has a keen interest in speaking out about anything that might be deemed taboo, and a lengthy bucket list. She’s also a keen traveler and is passionate about sharing the message that IBS doesn’t have to hold you back in life! Visit her website and Twitter.