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Apple Cider Vinegar: Potential Uses, & Side Effects

By Dr Rajeev Singh +2 more

Introduction:

Apples are high in antioxidants (natural substances that prevent cell damage by inhibiting oxidation), which might help inhibit free radicals (unstable atoms that lead to cell damage) formation. Apples are abundant in phenolic compounds, vitamins, minerals, calcium, potassium, and phosphorus, all of which might help with numerous chronic conditions. Apple cider vinegar is formed from pressed apples that have been processed in the same way as apple juice, but it is not filtered.

Apple cider vinegar benefits

Low acetic acid, flavonoids, phenolic chemicals (gallic acid, catechin, caffeic acid, epicatechin, chlorogenic acid, and p-coumaric acid), organic acids, minerals, and vitamins are found in apple cider vinegar, which is made from cider that has undergone acetous bioconversion.1

Salad dressings, marinades, and sauces frequently contain apple cider vinegar. It is prepared by a fermentation process in which yeast and bacteria are added to the juice of pulverised apples, converting carbohydrates to alcohol and then to acetic acid that gives the vinegar its sour flavour. Cider vinegar and apple vinegar are frequent names for apple cider vinegar.2

Nutritional Value of Apple Cider Vinegar:

Pectin, vitamins B and C, and trace amounts of sodium, potassium, calcium, iron, phosphorus, and magnesium are all likely found in apple cider vinegar.2

Apple cider vinegar’s primary active ingredients are acetic acid and polyphenolic chemicals. Succinic, ascorbic, formic, citric, and oxalic acids are other organic acid compounds found in apple cider vinegar.2

Also Read: Elaichi (Cardamom): Uses, Benefits, Side Effects & Dosage

Properties of Apple Cider Vinegar:

  • The potential properties of apple cider vinegar are listed below.
  • It might be an antimicrobial agent
  • It might have an anti-inflammatory potential
  • It may be an anti-hypertensive (blood pressure lowering)
  • It may be an anti-diabetic (blood sugar lowering)
  • It might have a hypolipidaemic (blood cholesterol lowering) effect
  • It might be antiarthritic3
  • It might have an antidandruff property
  • It might be anti-osteoporotic(bone protective effect)2

Potential Uses of Apple Cider Vinegar:

Potential use of apple cider vinegar for cancer:

The potential antitumor activity of apple cider vinegar has been studied using an animal model. It was found that apple cider vinegar might reduce deoxyribonucleic acid damage, hyperproliferation and might be helpful against the growth of cancer. Apple polyphenols contain procyanidins, flavonoids, epicatechin, catechin, which might help suppress colon cancer cells.

The apple cider vinegar might help suppress the growth of breast cancer cells. In addition, the apple juice might also help against chemical-induced tumour genesis by using several cell lines.

Polyphenols present in apple cider vinegar may have cell toxicity effects in human urinary bladder cancer cells and might cause apoptosis (cell death) and oxidative stress.1 However, more research is required. Moreover, cancer is a serious condition and must be diagnosed and treated by a doctor. Therefore, kindly consult a doctor.

Potential use of apple cider vinegar for diabetes:

The potential anti-diabetic effect of apple cider vinegar was studied in a normal and diabetic rat model. Apple cider vinegar showed a potential blood sugar lowering effect and, a potential to reduce the inflammatory response, oxidative stress and might also help normalise the lipid profiles in diabetes complications. Hence, apple cider vinegar might be helpful for diabetes.1

The hypoglycemic (blood sugar lowering) effect of apple cider vinegar was studied on human subjects, and it was found that it may help decrease the postprandial blood glucose after a meal. Researchers suggest that its use may influence satiety (feeling of fullness after eating) and blood sugar level control in healthy adults by slowing down gastric emptying (contents of the stomach moved to the small intestine), and may result in decreased after-meal blood glucose levels.4

The probable mechanism of hypoglycemic action might be the effect of apple cider vinegar on the α-amylase enzyme. The reduction of α-amylase in liver cells may help suppress the conversion of carbohydrates (polysaccharides) into smaller saccharide units such as glucose and might lead to a decrease in blood glucose levels.4 However, serious conditions like diabetes must be diagnosed and treated by a doctor. Therefore, kindly consult a doctor and do not self-medicate.

Potential use of Apple cider vinegar for inflammation:

The dietary flavonoids isolated from apple cider vinegar might help reduce the inflammation-related markers in mice’s intestinal tissue, as seen in animal studies. Apple polyphenolic compounds might help reduce the inflammatory response of the kidney by decreasing the expression and activity of the cyclo-oxygenase-2 enzyme in the rat model.1 However, more research is required to prove such effects of apple cider vinegar.

Potential use of apple cider vinegar for obesity:

One study looked into the lipid-lowering effect of apple cider vinegar on rat models. These rats had higher levels of total cholesterol, triglycerides, low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol, very low-density lipoprotein, and the atherogenic index (which predicts the chances of heart diseases). In contrast, rats that were administered apple cider vinegar showed reduction in all of these parameters, demonstrating that apple cider vinegar might have an anti-obesity effect.5 However, more research is required to prove the effectiveness of apple cider vinegar for obesity.

Potential use of apple cider vinegar for the liver:

The potential liver protective effect of apple cider vinegar’s polyphenolic compounds was studied on rodent models. The polyphenolic compounds might help improve the oxidative enzyme’s activity in the liver tissue and may indicate liver-protecting potential of apple cider vinegar.1 However, more research will be necessary to prove such claims. Moreover, diseases of the liver must be diagnosed and treated by a doctor. So, please consult a doctor if you suspect liver disease.

Potential use of apple cider vinegar for the heart:

The heart-protective potential of apple cider vinegar was studied in mice serum. Apple cider vinegar might help with atherogenesis (fat deposition in arteries), may lessen inflammation, and might help reduce triacylglycerol levels.

Polyphenolic compounds in apple cider vinegar might help reduce drug-induced damage to the heart in a cell line study. Polyphenolic compounds like chlorogenic acid found in apple cider vinegar might help reduce lipoproteins’ oxidation and be helpful against heart-related complications.1 However, conditions of the heart are serious and a doctor must be consulted for proper diagnosis and treatment of it. Therefor, kindly consult a doctor.

Potential use of apple cider vinegar as an antioxidant:

The consumption of apple cider vinegar might help increasedthe antioxidant enzymes such as superoxide dismutase and glutathione peroxidase due to the presence of polyphenolic compounds.1 However, these effects need to be confirmed by further research.

Potential use of apple cider vinegar for infections:

The antimicrobial potential of apple cider vinegar was examined against various bacteria like E. coli, Staphylococcus aureus and Candida albicans. The study’s findings revealed that apple cider vinegar might have potential antimicrobial action which may be seen as the loss of bacteria and fungi in culture media.

Apple cider vinegar might also have antifungal activity against Candida species involved in denture stomatitis (inflammation of the oral mucous membrane).1 However, further studies are required to prove such claims.

Potential use of apple cider vinegar for the brain:

Several studies have shown the valuable results of apple cider vinegar on Alzheimer’s disease linked with ageing.

According to a study, when aged mice received the dilute form of apple cider vinegar in drinking water, there was an improvement in memory and increased antioxidant activity. Apple cider vinegar might also have the potential to deplete acetylcholine (a chemical found in the brain), which is connected with ageing and oxidative stress and may help maintain neuronal communications.1 However, such effects are yet to be confirmed by more research. Therefore, kindly do not self-medicate.

Potential use of apple cider vinegar for immunity:

A study was performed to study the immunity-enhancing potency of apple cider vinegar. According to the study, apple cider vinegar might be effective in acting as an immunomodulator on the systemic and mucosal immune response.1 However, more research is required to back up such claims.

Though there are studies that show the potential use of apple cider vinegar in various conditions, but these are insufficient and there is a need of further studies to establish the true extent of benefits of apple cider vinegar on human health. 

Over the years, I’ve heard that some people may find relief from acid reflux by using apple cider vinegar. The belief is that its probiotic properties may help restore digestive balance and alleviate acid reflux symptoms. However, I would strongly advise consulting with your doctor before trying apple cider vinegar as a remedy for acid reflux.

Dr. Siddharth Gupta, B.A.M.S, M.D (Ayu)

Also Read: Does Apple Cider Vinegar Go Bad? Understanding Its Shelf Life

How to Use Apple Cider Vinegar?

Apple cider vinegar is available in the following forms:

  • Vinegar
  • Liquid drops
  • Tablets
  • Capsules
  • Powder
  • Gummies
  • Topical preparations (face peels, creams, salve, body wash, and shampoo)2

You must consult a qualified doctor before taking any herbal supplements. Do not discontinue or replace an ongoing treatment of modern medicine with an ayurvedic/herbal preparation without consulting a qualified doctor. 

I came across a study that suggested the potential benefits of apple cider vinegar for polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). The study found that four out of seven patients may have experienced ovulatory menstruation within 40 days after taking apple cider vinegar. This indicates a potential positive effect on menstrual regularity in PCOS patients.

Dr. Rajeev Singh, BAMS

Also Read: Ashwagandha: Uses, Benefits & Side Effects

Side Effects of Apple Cider Vinegar:    

Apple cider vinegar is generally well-tolerated in the amounts found in foods and when used for food purposes for a short period. However, larger doses and topical use could be unsafe.

  • Hypokalaemia (low blood potassium), hyperreninemia (high renin blood concentration), and osteoporosis have been reported with long term use of apple cider vinegar.
  • Apple cider vinegar tablets may cause oesophageal damage at a higher dosage.
  • The use of apple cider vinegar topically may cause skin irritation and chemical burns.
  • The acidity of undiluted apple cider vinegar has the potential to damage tooth enamel.2
  • Therefore, kindly consult a doctor and do not use it to self-medicate.
  • Precautions to Take With Apple Cider Vinegar:
  • The safety studies of apple cider vinegar on pregnant and breastfeeding women have not been documented. No research has been done on the safe use of apple cider vinegar in children. Therefore, it should only be taken under the supervision and advice of a doctor.
  • Concomitant use of blood sugar-lowering drugs should be advised with caution due to the potential for additive effects.2
  • Medicines or other herbal preparations that lower potassium should be used with caution, along with apple cider vinegar, due to the risk of hypokalaemia (low blood potassium).2

Also Read: Apple Cider Vinegar for Hair: Discover the Research-Based Benefits and Treatments

Interactions With Other Drugs:

  • Apple cider vinegar and blood sugar-lowering drugs may have additive effects.2
  • Medicines or other herbal preparations that lower potassium should be used cautiously along with apple cider vinegar due to the risk of hypokalaemia (low blood potassium).2

Also Read: Apricot: Uses, Benefits & Side Effects

Frequently Asked Questions:

How is apple cider vinegar made?

It is prepared by a fermentation process in which bacteria and yeast are mixed into the juice from crushed apples, first converting sugars to alcohol and then to acetic acid.2

Is apple cider vinegar safe?

Yes, apple cider vinegar is safe to use. It is generally well-tolerated in quantities typically consumed in foods. However, kindly consult a doctor for its potential health uses.

What are the constituents of apple cider vinegar?

Flavonoids, and phenolic compounds (gallic acid, catechin, caffeic acid, epicatechin, chlorogenic acid and p-coumaric acid) are the constituents of apple cider vinegar.1

What are the common names of apple cider vinegar?

The common names of apple cider vinegar are cider vinegar and apple vinegar.2

Does apple cider vinegar cause dandruff?

No, apple cider vinegar is used for the management of dandruff.2

Is apple cider vinegar acidic?

Yes, apple cider vinegar is acidic due to the presence of acetic acid and malic acid.3

Can we drink apple cider vinegar?

Yes, we can drink apple cider vinegar. As per one of the studies, drinking a cup of apple cider vinegar in the middle of the meal-induced a reduction in postprandial (after meal) glucose levels.4 Kindly consult a doctor before drinking apple cider vinegar.

Is apple cider vinegar good for the liver?

Yes, it is good for the liver. According to a study, the polyphenolic compounds present in apple cider vinegar might help with the oxidative enzyme activity in the liver associated with adenosine triphosphate synthesis. however, a doctor must diagnose and treat serious conditions such as those related to the liver. Therefore, kindly consult a doctor for the same.

Does apple cider vinegar show side effects?

Hypokalaemia (low potassium blood level), hyperreninemia (high blood renin enzyme level), osteoporosis, oesophageal injury, skin irritation, and chemical burns (due to topical application) are the reported side effects of apple cider vinegar.

Can apple cider vinegar raise blood pressure?

No, apple cider vinegar lowers elevated blood pressure.3

Is apple cider vinegar good for weight loss?

Yes, apple cider vinegar might be helpful for weight loss.3 However, more research is required to prove its effectiveness. Therefore, kindly consult a doctor for the above-mentioned concern.

What are the benefits of apple cider vinegar?

Apple cider vinegar may be helpful for skin conditions, dyspepsia (discomfort in the upper abdomen), nephrolithiasis (kidney stones), osteoporosis, arthritis, elevated blood pressure, painful joints and elevated blood sugar level, obesity, and stomach ache. However, more research is required to prove these potential uses. Kindly consult a doctor before using it for the above-mentioned conditions.

Also Read: Licorice (Mulethi): Uses, Benefits & Side Effects

References:

  1. Tripathi S, Mazumder PM. Apple cider vinegar (ACV) and their pharmacological approach towards alzheimer’s disease (AD): a review. Ind J Pharm Educ Res. 2020; 54: s67-74. Available at: https://www.ijper.org/sites/default/files/IndJPhaEdRes-54-2s-67.pdf
  2. Martini N. Apple cider vinegar. J Prim Health Care 2021;13(2):191–192. Available at: https://www.publish.csiro.au/hc/pdf/HC19561
  3. Akanksha S, Sunita M. Study about the nutritional and medicinal properties of apple cider vinegar. Asian J sci Technol. 2017; 8(11): 6892-6894. Available at: https://www.journalajst.com/sites/default/files/issues-pdf/5355.pdf
  4. Dramane G, Klotoe J, Gbankoto A, Ahyi V, Yessoufou A. Apple Cider Vinegar as an Excellent Anti-Diabetic and Anti-Obesity Natural Beverage Because of its Depression of Postprandial Glycemic Response. Am J Innov Res Appl Sci. 2019; 8(6):258-263. Available at: http://american-jiras.com/Dramane-ManuscriptRef.1-ajira270519.pdf
  5. Halima BH, Sonia G, Sarra K, Houda BJ, Fethi BS, Abdallah A. Apple cider vinegar attenuates oxidative stress and reduces the risk of obesity in high-fat-fed male wistar rats. J Med Food. 2018; 21(1): 70-80. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29091513/

Disclaimer: The information provided here is for educational/awareness purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional and should not be relied upon to diagnose or treat any medical condition. The reader should consult a registered medical practitioner to determine the appropriateness of the information and before consuming any medication. PharmEasy does not provide any guarantee or warranty (express or implied) regarding the accuracy, adequacy, completeness, legality, reliability or usefulness of the information; and disclaims any liability arising thereof.

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