Apple cider vinegar is made by combining apples with yeast. The yeast then converts the sugar in the apples into alcohol. Bacteria are then added to the mixture, which ferment the alcohol into acetic acid. Acetic acid makes up about 5–6% of apple cider vinegar. It is classified as a “weak acid,” but still has fairly strong acidic properties when it is concentrated.
In addition to acetic acid, vinegar contains water and trace amounts of other acids, vitamins and minerals. Several studies in animals and humans have found that acetic acid and apple cider vinegar may promote fat burning and weight loss, decrease blood sugar levels, increase insulin sensitivity and improve cholesterol levels.
Apple cider vinegar is said to be a natural remedy for many ailments. Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, was aware of its antibiotic properties and even recommended it to his patients.
Here are a few of its health benefits of apple cider vinegar:
- Detoxes the body — Apple cider vinegar is a liver and lymphatic tonic which can help detox your body. It helps balance your body’s pH and stimulates cardiovascular stimulation, bowel motility and lymphatic drainage
- Nutrients present — It includes nutrients like potassium, sodium, chloride, phosphorus, calcium, bioflavonoid, pectin, magnesium, copper and vitamins like Vitamin A, B1, B2, B6, C and E.
- Treats Diarrhea — Apple cider vinegar contains a water soluble fibre known as pectin which treats diarrhoea by forming bulk fibrous matter. It forms a protective coat to soothe the colon lining and calms intestinal spasm. Mix apple cider vinegar with water or juice and drink it to treat diarrhea.
- Treats Indigestion — To treat indigestion, sip apple cider vinegar mixed with warm water and 1 teaspoon honey before every meal. You can also add 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to a jug of water and drink it throughout the day. It is also useful for reducing gastritis, bloating and ameliorates symptoms of heart burn. Pectin also promotes bowel movements, making it a great natural treatment for constipation.
- Clears blocked nose due to sinusitis — Apple cider vinegar is very useful for clearing blocked nose due to sinusitis. It breaks the mucous to clear sinuses. Dilute apple cider vinegar with water. Drinking the vinegar without any flavor will help drain sinuses and clear your nose.
- Helps stop Hiccups — Hiccups are caused due to overeating or due to slowing of protein digestion caused by low stomach acid. Drinking apple cider vinegar mixed with water restores acid balance in the stomach and eases diaphragm spasms.
- It is an effective body odor remedy — Apple cider vinegar is an effective body odor remedy. It absorbs and neutralizes odor by adjusting the skin’s pH level to eliminate odor causing bacteria. For foot odor, fill a pan with warm water and add 1/3 cup of apple cider vinegar. Soak your feet for 15 minutes. Rub a bit of apple cider vinegar in your underarms to dissipate the bad smell.
- Treats Common cold — Apple cider vinegar is very effective for treating common cold, cough and sore throat. Make a concoction using one teaspoon of apple cider vinegar and honey mixed in 1 glass of warm water. Add some mashed ginger and gargle. This will help treat sore throat, cough and chest congestion.
- Relieves exhaustion — Apple cider vinegar contains amino acids and enzyme which counteracts the lactic acid buildup. It is also packed with electrolytes that help relieve exhaustion and lethargy. Add 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar to a glass of vegetable juice and drink it to beat the exhaustion.
- Treats Leg cramps — It treats leg cramps by dissolving acid crystals in the body to reduce the intensity and pain of cramps. Whenever cramps occur, sip some apple cider vinegar diluted with water and a little honey to diminish the pain.
- It combats bad breath — Acidic properties of apple cider vinegar make it extremely effective to combat bad breath and gingivitis. It kills the bacteria in your mouth and gums to give you fresh breathe. Gargle with apple cider vinegar mixed with water for 10 seconds. Repeat 5 times. This will also remove yellow stains and will help whiten teeth.
- Improves insulin sensitivity — The anti-glycemic effects of apple cider vinegar improve insulin sensitivity which helps maintain the blood sugar level in the body. Mix 3 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar in a glass of water and take it 3 times a day to improve stomach’s rate of digestion. This will help keep the blood sugar level consistent.
- Helps maintain bone health — Potassium is very beneficial to prevent calcium build up in the joints which lead to joint stiffness. Include apple cider vinegar in your diet to ease arthritis pain. It also contains several essential minerals like calcium, phosphorus and magnesium, which help maintain bone health.
- Cleanses Skin — Mix equal parts of apple cider vinegar and fuller’s earth clay (multani mitti) and add 1 teaspoon of honey to it. Apply this on the skin and leave for 10 to 15 minutes. This detoxifying, deep pore treatment will cleanse your skin to remove dirt and grime from the face.
- Treats Psoriasis and inflammation — Apple cider vinegar has astringent properties which is useful for treating skin conditions like inflammation and psoriasis. Soak a cotton ball in it and apply on the affected areas.
- Fights the signs of ageing — Apple cider vinegar contains high amount of sulphur that fights the signs of ageing like age spots and freckles. Apply apple cider vinegar directly on the face every night before going to sleep and leave it overnight. Wash off the next morning. If you have sensitive skin or feel any kind of stinging sensation, dilute with water.
- Strengthens hair and promote hair growth — Add one teaspoon apple cider vinegar to a glass of water and drink daily. This will strengthen hair and promote hair growth.
- Reduces Dandruff — Apple cider vinegar also reduces itchy scalp problems and dandruff by destroying the bacteria and fungi that clog the hair follicles. It promotes blood circulation in the small blood capillaries under the skin and treats yeast and viruses to prevent scalp infection.
- Helps to treat hair loss problem — Hair thinning or receding hair line is an issue which affects most of us at some point of our life. Apple cider vinegar can be of great help to treat hair loss problem. Part your hair in sections and spray apple cider vinegar directly on the scalp. Wrap your head in a towel and let it stay for an hour. This will restore the proper acid/alkaline balance to the scalp. For acute cases, spray apple cider daily before shampooing. You can also rub apple cider vinegar on the bald patches.
Side effects of Apple Cider Vinegar –-
As the saying goes, anything in excess is fatal. The same can be applied for apple cider vinegar as it can actually cause serious issues if its consumption exceeds the prescribed amount.
Let’s take a look at the side effects caused by the overuse of apple cider vinegar.
- It can damage or corrode the esophagus, tooth enamel, and stomach lining due to the high level of citric acidic content in it.
- According to a Natural Standard review, the high acetic acid content of apple cider vinegar causes low potassium levels in your blood. This condition is called hypokalemia. This situation may cause many associated symptoms and ailments including weakness, nausea, cramps, frequent urination, low blood pressure, changes in heart rhythm, and paralysis.
- Since it is acidic in nature, apple cider vinegar can easily react with some drugs like laxatives, diuretics, and insulin. Since apple cider vinegar has a direct effect on the insulin levels and blood sugar, it may prove to be highly hazardous when taken with blood pressure and diabetes medications.
- Other side effects that are caused due to the acidic nature of apple cider vinegar include serious diarrhea, indigestion, and heartburn. If you are using apple cider vinegar for detoxification, these side effects are very common.
- The high acidic level of undiluted ACV can destroy your tooth enamel if it is consumed orally. Besides giving a yellowish tinge to your teeth, it increases your dental sensitivity as well.
- The excessive use of apple cider vinegar also reduces the bone mineral density, making our bones weak and brittle. Hence, people suffering from osteoporosis should never go overboard with this ingredient.
- Many studies have concluded that the oral overuse of apple cider vinegar can eventually lead to throat irritation. This is caused mainly due to the presence of acetic acid in apple cider vinegar.
- The excessive use of apple cider vinegar can lower the blood sugar levels in the body due to its antiglycemic effect on blood.
- One of the many purposes of apple cider vinegar is to flush out toxins from our system. However, it can lead to acne production since our body tends to expel toxins via our skin.
- The overuse of apple cider vinegar can eventually lead to painful headaches accompanied by a feeling of nausea. This occurs due to its detoxification property that makes our brain release harmful toxins
How to Consume Apple Cider Vinegar Safely–
Most people can safely consume reasonable amounts of apple cider vinegar by following these general guidelines:
- Limit your intake — Start with a smaller amount and gradually work up to a maximum of 2 tablespoons (30 ml) per day, depending on your personal tolerance.
- Minimize your tooth exposure to acetic acid — Try diluting the vinegar in water and drinking it through a straw.
- Rinse your mouth — Rinse with water after taking it. To prevent further enamel damage, wait at least 30 minutes before brushing your teeth.
- Be aware of allergies– Allergies to apple cider vinegar are rare, but stop taking it immediately if you experience an allergic reaction.
I’m Dr. Malini Bhat MD (Ayu); an Ayurvedic Doctor and a health blogger. Follow me on social media to get daily health tips which you can easily adapt to a healthy lifestyle.