Is Apple Cider a Miracle Cure-All or Just an Old Wives' Tale?

By , SparkPeople Blogger
You've probably used apple cider vinegar for pickling or as an ingredient in dressings and marinades. Like most vinegars, it, too, has been touted as a miracle liquid, capable of everything from deodorizing and cleaning the house to controlling blood sugar and clearing up acne. And that's not where it ends. Do a little research and you'll find that people swear by the stuff for solving all kinds of everyday problems.
  • Problems with dandruff? Massage diluted apple cider vinegar into your scalp, let it sit for 15 minutes, then wash as usual and say goodbye to flakes.
  • The next time you're feeling sluggish, swap your usual coffee for a lighter brown liquid. The amino acids in apple cider vinegar are reported to act as an antidote to lactic acid buildup in your body, which can make you feel fatigued.
  • Sick of pulling weeds or spraying toxic chemicals to rid your yard of unwanted plants? Spray undiluted apple cider vinegar directly onto the weeds to make them vanish.
  • Sweaty underarms got you down? Dab some apple cider vinegar under each arm to keep the sweat at bay.
The vinegar—whose first recorded use dates all the way back to 5,000 BC when the Babylonians used date palm fruit to make vinegar for preserving foods—has a long history of being used to help with ailments. In biblical times, vinegar was used to flavor foods and as a drink and a medicine. Around 400 BC, Hippocrates prescribed vinegar mixed with honey to the ancient Greeks as a cough and cold remedy.

Although vinegar has many more uses, is it really the miracle cure-all Pinterest and your mother-in-law claim it to be?

The Science Behind the Cider

Although there is a lack of overall research, some studies on rodents and humans point to the vinegar's possible benefits as an alternate therapy for several popular health claims. 

1. Lowering cholesterol. One study examined the efficacy of the main component of apple cider vinegar on rats fed a high-cholesterol diet. The vinegar was shown to decrease total cholesterol and HDL and LDL levels when compared to rats on the same diet that were not fed apple cider vinegar.
"Lowering of cholesterol is made possible by pectin, which is found in apples and its vinegar. Pectin is a complex carbohydrate [and a] a soluble fiber," according to Rebecca Lee, RN and founder of Remedies for Me. "The way it works on cholesterol is that the LDL (bad cholesterol) binds itself to the pectin, and is then carried out of the body as waste," she says. 
2. Controlling blood sugar levels. "A 2004 study published in the Journal of Diabetes Care found that taking vinegar before meals significantly increased insulin sensitivity and reduced glucose levels by 25 percent for those with type 2 diabetes, and cut glucose levels by nearly half in those with pre-diabetic symptoms," Krissy Kendall, PhD, CISSN and the science editor at says.
"Taken with a high-glycemic meal, vinegar has been shown to significantly reduce the glucose response. A second study by the same group of researchers found that post-meal glucose response was affected favorably only when the vinegar was ingested at meal time with carbohydrates. Although the exact mechanisms for this are unclear, it could be due to vinegar's ability to delay gastric emptying," she says.
3. As a weight loss aid. Rumored to help suppress appetite, reduce water retention and increase metabolism when added in small doses to water and taken before meals, the jury is still out on this claim. Although animal studies have shown it to decrease blood sugar and insulin levels, this has also been taking as evidence that it will help with weight loss.
"Virtually no [scientific literature] comes up for this, and what does is usually tiny, not well-done studies in obscure journals," Scott Kahan, MD, MPH and director of the National Center for Weight and Wellness, told SELF. He goes on to say that these studies are "basically meaningless" when it comes to supporting claims of apple cider vinegar's weight-loss benefits.

The Verdict?

Although more research is needed to back the myriad of major health claims based on apple cider vinegar use, there's no need to take it out of your pantry just yet.  
The pectin in the vinegar acts as an aid for probiotics, promoting healthy digestion by encouraging the growth of healthy bacteria in your gut.

"It [contains] a prebiotic, meaning it [makes] for a healthier gut flora. These benefits alone will decrease many ailments in the body, as 80 percent of our immune system is found in our digestive tract and lack of gut flora, or healthy microbes, will lead to lowered immunity and therefore, disease." Shawna Kunselman, MS and clinical nutritionist at Wellness Speaks.

If you want to try it for its other purported uses, keep in mind that taking too much can be dangerous, and can delay digestion and cause other digestion issues, erode tooth enamel, create potentially low potassium levels and bone loss, cause skin and throat burns, and could also create unwanted drug interactions. Without a lot of solid scientific research backing up its many viral claims, it's important that you use apple cider vinegar with caution and consult with a doctor if you think you might be vulnerable to reactions.

To safely ingest apple cider vinegar, start small, taking a little each day or a few times a week, diluted with water, another beverage or add it to your food. You can work up to a maximum dose of two tablespoons a day, depending on how your body tolerates it.

Join us each month as we sift through the so-called life hacks and miracle cures to get to the bottom of the latest buzzworthy trend. Get the facts and decide for yourself if you should Spark It or Scrap It. 

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DIVAGLOW 5/3/2021
I use it all the time. I think it works. Thanks for the info. Report
KNEESOCKS1945 1/27/2021
Thank you. Report
I have had many questions about apple cider vinegar. They were answered here. Report
Great Tips! Thanks for sharing! Report
thanks Report
Everyday Day! I have a quart container with a little Craving Killer Elixir made up ahead of time. Lemon juice, a little ACV, a like lime juice and some sugar substitute like Swerve. You can also add fiber powder. So at least once a day I shake it up, pour a little, add water and the cravings for snacks are all gone! Love it! Down 50+ lbs s in 5 and a half months. :-) Report
Very good info! Thank you for this one. Report
Very good info! Thank you for th Report
I take it once a day in a glass of water. Report
Great info! Thank you for this one! Report
posted this to printrest as ACV is a common pin there Report
really great information! Report
anyone know if two teaspoons/3 Xs a day is good/bad for the kidneys? Report
Jury is still out for me but I do believe it is beneficial. Report
I love apple cider vinegar! Report
The research says it improves insulin sensitivity. Since insulin is the major fat storage hormone, it follows that less insulin means less fat storage. Acids including lemon, lime vinegar etc mitigate some of the damage caused by excess carbohydrates. Report
Isn't it the organic "Apple Cider Vinegar with the Mother" the one that has all the benefits? We take 1 Tbl a day, mixed in with a few ounces of flavorful juice (like strawberry, peach or cranberry. Plz DO NOT drink it by itself, as that could burn your throat. Not good.) It helps with IBS, cholesterol & a long list of other benefits. We used to have to purchase ours from a health food store, but, are now finding it at our local grocery store. Report
I never thought about drinking it - but I use it to burn of moles. Works great... and that makes me less inclined to ingest any ha ha Report
Not sure I believe it for weight loss, but I have a co-worker whose severe acid reflux goes away when she drinks diluted ACV daily. (Comes back when she stops though.) Report
Depserv - My takeaway is that it's the pectin found in apple cider vinegar that is the difference-maker, so I would think I would lean towards "no" with regard to pickles/pickle "juice" unless they're made with apple cider vinegar. That being said - if it IS the pectin, I wonder if an apple itself makes a difference? Report
How about eating pickles, and other things preserved with vinegar? You have to be ingesting some vinegar when you do that. Usually though it's the clear vinegar that's used, so does that have the same effects?

Some people like to drink the liquid used to preserve dill pickles (kids seem to like it, which seems weird for kids). Is that a good way to ingest vinegar? Does the heat used in the processing of preserved pickles affect the health benefits of the vinegar?

Is the natural vinegar, containing the so-called mother, better or the same as the more common (and much cheaper) vinegar?

It looks like oil and vinegar salad dressing would be a healthy food, especially if the oil is olive oil or part olive oil. I use a mix of olive oil and hemp oil in mine, because the olive oil gets thick when it's refrigerated and cutting it with another oil alleviates that a little, and because each has its own nutrients. Report
Gonna have to give this a try. Weight loss would be nice, but I'm more intrigued by lowering sugar levels (pre-diabetic) and increasing good flora in digestive track. Report
My son started using ACV for an eyelid infection and it healed that then he started drinking it and had to cut back because he was losing too much weight. I started drinking 1 T in a cup of hot water w/1 T honey every morning and I have noticed more energy and a decrease in appetite. I also use 1/2 cup in a glass of water for my final rinse after shampooing my hair and it has totally eliminated my itchy scalp. It may be like everything else, will work for some and not others but definitely worth a try since it's so easy to do. I'll keep drinking and using it! Report
I'm not convinced it works. Although my husband swears by using it when he feels a cold coming on. Report
It's not a miracle, but maintenance. Report
I will give it a shot! Report
I have been taking it for months. Braggs ACV. It has that sludge at the bottom of the bottle. I used a sprinkle of cayenne pepper, ground ginger, and a sprinkle of turmeric. I work out 5-6 days a week, and very careful with my diet. I track my nutrition on SP everyday. There is no way I can give credit to ACV for all that. I can agree it might have health benefits, but weight loss is not one of them. Total crap. I tell people if they are giving credit to ACV alone, we wouldn't have an overweight world. Report
I love ACV, Braggs w/the "Mother." Most days I have it first thing in the morning, 2TB in a bottle of water. Helps curb my appetite a wee bit. I've also started giving it to my son to aid in his digestion and it also helps with his eczema. I also use it on my scalp before shampooing. It's not a quick fix, you have to keep using it to see results. Every so often take a few days or a week break from it is what I do.
I tried taking it at night with my evening meal. saw lower bs for a few days and then nothing. It didn't work for me. Report
I have severe heartburn, the type that you wake up with and it hurts so bad you can't eat, even though eating would help. Then you eat and it gets worse, no matter what you eat. At night before I go to bed, I drink diluted apple cider, and I don't wake up with heartburn. There were a couple times that I forgot and in the morning? Bam! The pain doubled me over. Now it may be pure coincidence that I don't have heartburn on the nights that I use the apple cider. Report
It's total baloney,been touted since the 1950's, if it worked for sure, no one would have any problems still now. I remember when Arthur Godfrey used to tout it on his radio program as a cure for everything, since he owned a company that produced the product, he still died of cancer anyway. Bull! Report
I'm convinced it works. 1. Weightloss: I lost 7 lbs almost directly. 2. Cholesterol: I lowered my bad and RAISED my good, which my nurse practitioner was shocked about and had to aske what I had done differently.3. Sugar levels: also better. I have no doubts. I used a capful in a glass of water each morning or night. It also corresponds to my weight loss. If I haven't taken it for a while, and then start up again, my weight drops. Nice!!!! Report