If you’re a regular social media user or you like to go on wellness websites, you’ve probably seen people raving about the wonders of apple cider vinegar, also known as ACV.
Bloggers talk about the benefits of drinking apple cider vinegar, including flattening your belly and speeding up your metabolism – but are all these claims true? What if apple cider vinegar is actually making you more unhealthy and even causing injury when used in certain ways?
Let’s have a look at the 9 ways ACV can boost your health, and 5 ways where it could be doing your health damage!
1. Hair Rinse
There are clear benefits to using apple cider vinegar to rinse your hair with. It can make your hair shiny, and also help relieve an itchy scalp. Because it’s acidic, it can help stop the many hair issues that are caused by our hair being too alkaline, by balancing out the pH.
If you’re going to use ACV for this, dilute it first.
We all have problems with mold on our shower curtains from time to time, even those with the most spotlessly clean bathrooms. It’s easy for mold to grow in the damp and humid atmosphere of the bathroom, but all you need is some ACV and a washing machine to get rid of it.
Add a cup of ACV to your machine during the rinse cycle will help remove the mold from your plastic or fabric shower curtain.
3. Weight Loss
The jury’s out on this one. Fans of apple cider vinegar will rave about its uses as a weight loss tool, but science isn’t so sure.
“There’s a small amount of clinical data that shows some lipid reduction,” says Dr Elizabeth Trattner, integrative medicine specialist and acupuncturist, “but that is all.”
There just isn’t enough evidence to show that adding ACV to your diet will make a drastic impact on weight loss. In a very small 2013 study in the International Journal of Obesity, researchers found that ACV could suppress the appetite, but it will make you feel nauseous.
There is some evidence that ACV can help lower cholesterol. A small study in 2012 found that ACV could help lower cholesterol and triglycerides in those who have high cholesterol. More research is needed, though, as the study was extremely small.
Some say you should never use apple cider vinegar on acne because it could irritate your skin. However, dermatologist and spokeswoman for the American Academy of Dermatology, Dr. Marie Jihn, says that ACV could potentially work as a toner by drying out acne and lightening dark spots. There is a word of warning, though – it must be diluted a great deal before applying to the skin.
6. Blood Sugar
Apple cider vinegar may be helpful in lowering blood sugar. A 2005 study showed that adding vinegar to a meal with lots of starches can help prevent blood sugar spikes after eating.
Another study conducted by Arizona State University found that drinking diluted ACV before eating starchy foods could help prevent insulin and blood sugar changes after eating.
It’s possible that ACV can make you feel fuller for longer, according to a 2016 study by researchers at the Universite d’Oran, Algeria. The study was done on rats, so scientists are not sure whether it will have the same effect on humans.
8. Bug Bites
Itchy mosquito bites could be relieved by having a bath of apple cider vinegar and water. Dr. Jhin said that making a bath soak by diluting two cups of cider vinegar in a bathtub of water can help soothe the itching, especially if you have a lot of bites.
If you only have a few bites, you should still dilute the ACV so you don’t irritate the skin.
9. Cleaning Produce
Washing your fruits and vegetables with diluted vinegar is a good way to clean them, according to Carol Johnston, Ph.D, a registered dietician.
Make a vinegar and water solution and spritz onto the produce, giving it a quick rub. Rinse with water, and you won’t even notice a difference in the taste.
Now for the Bad News…
While apple cider vinegar can help with some things, it isn’t a universal cure-all. In fact, some of the claims made about it can be detrimental to your health. If you use, (or are thinking of using) ACV for any of these things, proceed with caution.
1. Tooth Whitening
There are people who claim that ACV is great for whitening teeth and cleaning your toothbrush, but it is an acid at the end of the day.
Dentist Dr. Alice Boghosian says that too much acid will erode the enamel coating on your teeth, which can cause cavities and make your teeth yellow and sensitive. She also dismisses the idea that you need to clean your toothbrush with vinegar. She recommends just rinsing it with water and letting it dry.
2. Sore Throats
You may have heard that gargling or drinking apple cider vinegar is good at curing the pain of a sore throat, but again it’s the acidity of the vinegar that’s the problem.
You need to be careful if you do this, because it’s acidic enough to have caused esophageal burns in some people who have consumed too much undiluted ACV.
If you’re going to drink or gargle with it, dilute it well first.
3. Digestive Issues
If you have a stomach ulcer or other digestive system problems such as Crohn’s, colitis and IBS, you shouldn’t use a lot of apple cider vinegar.
Vinegar in all its forms isn’t good for gastrointestinal issues, and can cause more sugar in the lumen of the intestine, which can aggravate lower bowel disorders. If you’re unsure whether ACV is OK for you to take, talk to your doctor about it.
4. Cleaning Wounds
Apple cider vinegar does have antifungal and antibacterial properties, so it seems like it would make sense to clean cuts and scrapes with it. The acid, however, will cause pain and skin irritation, and an antibacterial soap would work just as well.