Acid reflux is when stomach contents and acid flow back into the esophagus.
Heartburn, chest pain, regurgitation, and trouble swallowing are all signs of acid reflux.
Acid reflux can be treated with a number of medicines, but some people use natural remedies like apple cider vinegar to feel better.
But is it true that apple cider vinegar helps with acid reflux? No, the evidence does not point to it.
Let’s find out why.
What is Apple Cider Vinegar?
Most of the time, crushed apples are used to make apple cider vinegar. Bacteria and yeast are put into the liquid to make it ferment.
At first, the alcohol in the liquid makes it seem like a hard apple cider.
With more time, the alcohol turns into vinegar.
Both organic apple cider vinegar and raw apple cider vinegar are left to ferment on their own.
These liquids are not filtered, so they usually look cloudy and brown. During this process, the “mother” of the apple is left behind.
The “mother” is a web-like substance at the bottom of all organic apple cider vinegar bottles.
Apple cider vinegar that is not organic is pasteurized, and the “mother” of the apple is taken out of it.
The mother is thought to have a lot of enzymes, proteins, and pectin. Because of this, organic varieties are thought to be the best for treating health problems like acid reflux.
Beneficial effects of apple cider vinegar
The acetic acid in apple cider vinegar may benefit your health in many ways.
Some people may have heartburn because their stomachs don’t have enough acid.
People who support this idea say that apple cider vinegar might be helpful because it gives the digestive tract more acid.
This acid can also kill some types of bacteria and be used as an antimicrobial agent.
However, we have to be very careful with this notion and remember that not all cases of acid reflux result from low stomach acid.
Hypochlorhydria, another name for low stomach acid, affects about 22% of people in the US.
This problem does seem to increase in the older adult population.
That said, many cases of acid reflux, especially in Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), are due to a hiatal hernia, where part of the stomach pushes through the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) and keeps it open, allowing for the backflow of stomach contents into the esophagus.
Additionally, people with diabetes may also be able to control their blood sugar by using apple cider vinegar.
Taking vinegar can make your body more sensitive to insulin.
This lets the glucose move through your body with the help of insulin, which lowers your blood sugar level.
Also, apple cider vinegar is believed to have antibacterial properties that can help eliminate harmful bacteria in the digestive system that may contribute to acid reflux.
Research on apple cider vinegar and acid reflux
As of the date of this writing, when I looked into the scholarly journal databases, I could not find even one reputable study that showed that apple cider vinegar works for acid reflux or heartburn.
However, people who have tried it say that it works for them – I will leave it to you to decide.
How to use apple cider vinegar for heartburn?
If you decide to take apple cider vinegar to alleviate your acid reflux symptoms, a good ratio is one teaspoon of apple cider vinegar to one cup of water. You can then drink it as a beverage.
It is best to start with small doses and increase gradually over time. You may also add some honey to it to make the solution taste better.
Is apple cider vinegar safe to use?
Mostly, yes. However, there are a few things to consider.
First, as I mentioned above, diluting the apple cider vinegar with water before consuming it is important, as undiluted vinegar can be harsh on the throat and esophagus.
Also, the vinegar’s strong acidity can damage the enamel in your teeth.
Drinking the mixture slowly and not all at once is important, as drinking it too quickly can worsen your reflux symptoms.
Finally, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor before trying any natural remedies for acid reflux, as they may interact with other medications or medical conditions.
I cannot stress this enough – the moment you start interfering with your stomach’s acidity level, you will directly impact the absorption of many medications.
I would also NOT recommend apple cider vinegar tablets. There are cases of people being harmed with long-standing pain from the damage caused to their throats.
Can stress and anxiety contribute to acid reflux?
Yes, stress and anxiety can contribute to acid reflux by increasing the amount of acid produced in the stomach and causing the esophagus muscles to relax, making it easier for stomach acid to flow back up into the esophagus. Hemorrhoids and ulcers can also form!
Other natural home remedies and lifestyle changes for acid reflux
If you’re looking for other natural remedies or lifestyle changes to help control your acid reflux symptoms, there are several options to consider. These include:
- Eat smaller meals.
- Stop smoking!
- Avoid trigger foods and beverages (hard liquor, spicy foods, etc) that worsen symptoms.
- Don’t lie down immediately after eating.
- Elevate the head of your bed to keep food down in your stomach
- Ginger: Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce inflammation in the digestive system.
- Aloe vera: Aloe vera is believed to have soothing effects on the digestive system and may help alleviate acid reflux symptoms.
- Slippery elm: Slippery elm is a natural mucilage that can help coat the esophagus and reduce irritation.
Final thoughts as a pharmacist
Would I recommend you try apple cider vinegar to reduce heartburn? No.
There simply is no evidence to support its use, and the stakes of untreated acid reflux are too high.
A proper diagnosis and evidence-based treatment plan directed by your gastroenterologist or doctor is best.
My former student’s mother passed away from gastroesophageal cancer due to untreated GERD, and it was too late by the time she was diagnosed.
|Is apple cider vinegar safe for everyone to use?||No, apple cider vinegar may interact with certain medications or medical conditions, so it's important to talk to your doctor before using it.|
|Can apple cider vinegar cure acid reflux?||There is no cure for acid reflux, but apple cider vinegar may help alleviate symptoms in some people.|
|How long does it take for apple cider vinegar to work for acid reflux?||It can vary from person to person, but some people report feeling relief from their acid reflux symptoms within minutes of consuming apple cider vinegar.|
|Can apple cider vinegar worsen acid reflux symptoms?||Undiluted apple cider vinegar can be harsh on the throat and esophagus, so it's important to dilute it with water before consuming it. Additionally, drinking it too quickly can worsen symptoms.|
|Are there any negative effects of using apple cider vinegar for acid reflux?||Some people may experience side effects such as stomach upset or throat irritation when using apple cider vinegar for acid reflux. Talk to your doctor first!|
|Can apple cider vinegar help with other digestive problems?||Some evidence suggests that apple cider vinegar may benefit other digestive problems, such as bloating and constipation. However, more research is needed to confirm these findings.|
|Is it safe to consume apple cider vinegar daily?||Consuming small amounts of apple cider vinegar diluted with water is generally considered safe for most people. However, consuming large amounts of undiluted vinegar can harm your teeth and the delicate mucosal tissue in your mouth, throat, and esophagus.|
|Are there other foods or drinks that can help with acid reflux?||Yes, there are several foods and drinks that may help alleviate acid reflux symptoms, such as bananas, oatmeal, ginger tea, and chamomile tea.|
|Can lifestyle changes help with acid reflux?||Yes, lifestyle changes such as losing weight, avoiding trigger foods, and eating smaller, more frequent meals can help reduce acid reflux symptoms.|
|When should I see a doctor for my acid reflux symptoms?||Seeing a doctor is important if you experience acid reflux symptoms more than twice a week or if they interfere with your daily life. Your doctor can help diagnose the cause of your symptoms and recommend an appropriate treatment plan.|
|Can medications be used together with natural remedies for acid reflux?||Yes, medications such as proton pump inhibitors and H2 blockers can be used in conjunction with natural remedies for acid reflux. Again, talk to your doctor first!|
|Are there any long-term effects of untreated acid reflux?||Yes, untreated acid reflux can lead to complications such as esophagitis, Barrett's esophagus, and even esophageal cancer. It's important to seek treatment for acid reflux to prevent these complications.|
|Is acid reflux more common in certain populations?||Yes, acid reflux is more common in people who are overweight or obese, pregnant women, smokers, and those who consume a diet high in fat and/or acidic foods.|
While there is limited scientific research on the effectiveness of apple cider vinegar for acid reflux, many people swear by its ability to alleviate their symptoms.
If you decide to try using apple cider vinegar for acid reflux, it’s important to dilute it with water, drink it slowly, and talk to your doctor first.
Additionally, there are other natural remedies that may be helpful in alleviating acid reflux symptoms.
If you’re struggling with acid reflux, working with your doctor to find the best treatment plan is important.