I’ve always known about apple cider vinegar being very beneficial to your health, but I was always skeptical. You have to wonder about some ‘natural’ and homeopathic remedies… at least I do. I’m being honest! I have noticed, however, that in taking apple cider vinegar before bedtime, it really helps my blood sugar levels when I wake up. Crazy right? Usually, my blood sugar spikes around 4-5am and by the time I test (fasting), it is about 140-160. After taking this the past five days, I have woken up to my blood sugar being 115-130. I feel that is a tremendous improvement! I am sold.
Scientific Evidence of Apple Cider Vinegar Benefits
But there are some medical uses of vinegar that do have promise, at least according to a few studies. Here’s a rundown of some more recent ones.
Diabetes. The effect of vinegar on blood sugar levels is perhaps the best researched and the most promising of apple cider vinegar’s possible health benefits. Several studies have found that vinegar may help lower glucose levels. For instance, a 2007 study of 11 people with type 2 diabetes found that taking two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar before bed lowered glucose levels in the morning by 4%-6%.
High cholesterol . A 2006 study showed evidence that vinegar could lower cholesterol. However, the study was done in rats, so it’s too early to know how it might work in people.
Blood pressure and heart health. Another study in rats found that vinegar could lower high blood pressure. A large observational study also found that people who ate oil and vinegar dressing on salads five to six times a week had lower rates of heart disease than people who didn’t. However, it’s far from clear that the vinegar was the reason.
Cancer . A few laboratory studies have found that vinegar may be able to kill cancer cells or slow their growth. Observational studies of people have been confusing. One found that eating vinegar was associated with a decreased risk of esophageal cancer. Another associated it with an increased risk of bladder cancer.
Weight Loss . For thousands of years, vinegar has been used for weight loss. White vinegar (and perhaps other types) might help people feel full. A 2005 study of 12 people found that those who ate a piece of bread along with small amounts of white vinegar felt fuller and more satisfied than those who just ate the bread.
While the results of these studies are promising, they are all preliminary. Many were done on animals or on cells in a lab. The human studies have been small. Before we will truly know whether vinegar has any health benefits, much larger studies are needed.
How Should Apple Cider Vinegar Be Used?
Since apple cider vinegar is an unproven treatment, there are no official recommendations on how to use it. Some people take two teaspoons a day (mixed in a cup of water or juice.) A tablet of 285 milligrams is another common dosage.
Apple cider vinegar is also sometimes applied to the skin or used in enemas. The safety of these treatments is unknown.
What Are the Risks of Apple Cider Vinegar?
On the whole, the risks of taking occasional, small amounts of apple cider vinegar seem low. But using apple cider vinegar over the long term, or in larger amounts, could have risks. Here are some things to keep in mind.
Apple cider vinegar is highly acidic. The main ingredient of apple cider vinegar is acetic acid. As the name suggests, it’s quite harsh. Apple cider vinegar should always be diluted with water or juice before swallowed. Pure apple cider vinegar could damage the tooth enamel and the tissues in your throat and mouth. One study found a woman who got an apple cider vinegar supplement stuck in her throat suffered lasting damage to her esophagus. In addition, vinegar has been known to cause contact burns to the skin.
Long-term use of apple cider vinegar could cause low potassium levels and lower bone density. If you already have low potassium or osteoporosis, talk to your health care provider before using apple cider vinegar.
Apple cider vinegar could theoretically interact with diuretics, laxatives, and medicines for diabetes and heart disease.
If you have diabetes, check with your health care provider before using apple cider vinegar. Vinegar contains chromium, which can alter your insulin levels.