Indigestion, a term often used interchangeably with heartburn and acid reflux, is a common problem affecting millions worldwide, causing symptoms such as upset stomach and stomach cramps. While many over-the-counter and prescription medications are available to help sufferers find relief, some prefer to use natural home remedies, like apple cider vinegar. But can you use apple cider vinegar for indigestion? Or are you just wasting your time?
This article will examine the scientific evidence behind this natural indigestion approach to determine whether it's a safe and effective treatment option. Let’s get started!
How Does Apple Cider Vinegar Help With Indigestion?
While there are a variety of theories as to why apple cider vinegar (not to be confused with white vinegar) would help with indigestion, the main one has to do with the fact that it is a fermented food, like sauerkraut or kimchi.
See, foods that have undergone fermentation contain live bacteria called probiotics, which can help improve gut health. Introducing this friendly bacteria into your system creates a better balance between the good and bad bacteria in your gut, which can help improve symptoms of indigestion.
What the Science Says
Research supports the idea that using probiotics can benefit GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) symptoms like heartburn and regurgitation.
However, more research is needed to determine whether apple cider vinegar is a rich enough source of probiotics to relieve symptoms of indigestion. For example, another study found that participants who took apple cider vinegar in addition to probiotic supplementation, deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL), and magnesium citrate saw improvements in their acid reflux symptoms. However, there’s no way to tell how much each substance contributed to these effects.
Simply put, there isn’t enough research to determine whether or not apple cider vinegar is an effective natural remedy for heartburn and related symptoms. But it’s important to note here that this doesn’t mean that it’s not - it is simply that no published studies directly address the issue.
Should You Try Apple Cider Vinegar for Indigestion?
So, what does this all mean? If there’s little to no research to support the idea, should you bother trying apple cider vinegar for symptoms of indigestion?
Well, it certainly doesn’t hurt! Many people swear that apple cider vinegar is responsible for relieving their acid reflux symptoms, and the research isn’t saying it’s not possible. Its acetic acid content may be associated with various health benefits, so you may reap other positive effects.
What Are the Other Benefits of Consuming Apple Cider Vinegar?
Apple cider vinegar isn’t only potentially good for heartburn. There are a few other benefits commonly associated with this home remedy.
Related: Top 10 Health Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar and Honey
May Help Manage Diabetes
Apple cider vinegar may help those with diabetes regulate their blood sugar levels. Numerous studies have supported that vinegar can lower blood sugar levels and improve insulation function after a meal.
Can Aid in Weight Loss
Vinegar can also help you feel less hungry, causing you to eat fewer calories and lose more weight. One study showed that consuming apple cider vinegar daily can lose weight and reduce belly fat.
Ultimately, if you’re looking for a natural remedy for indigestion, apple cider vinegar is worth a try - as long as you consume it correctly.
How to Use Apple Cider Vinegar as a Home Remedy for Indigestion
If you want to try using apple cider vinegar to treat your heartburn, all you need is some apple cider vinegar (store-bought is fine, but you can make it at home), warm water, and a mug. Just dilute about a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar into a warm cup of water, and drink it before or after a meal. Also, add something like lemon, ginger, and/or honey to taste (the sharp, sour flavor can be a bit much for some).
The key thing to remember here is to dilute it. You don’t want to drink straight apple cider vinegar, which can erode your tooth enamel. For this reason, you should even consider drinking the mixture from a straw.
Or, if the drink isn’t for you, you can also try something like apple cider vinegar gummies or pills. Check the label on these, though - they’re sometimes mixed in with other herbal remedies.
Risks and Precautions
It may be a natural remedy for indigestion, but consuming apple cider vinegar may have some side effects. This includes:
- Decreased potassium levels - You shouldn’t use this if you have hypokalemia or low potassium levels
- Blood thinning - It can interact with medications like insulin, laxatives, and diuretics.
- Sore throat - Some may experience a burning sensation when drinking it.
- Tooth erosion - The acid can eat away at the enamel.
- Nausea and vomiting - That pungent taste isn’t for everyone!
And it’s important to note that if you’re using undiluted or large quantities of apple cider vinegar, these side effects can be even worse. (Source)
Ultimately, consuming apple cider vinegar is low risk overall. After all, you can find it in dressings, sauces, marinades, and broths - it’s even used to pickle foods.
This means many of us have already been eating apple cider vinegar, at least occasionally. So if it didn’t sit well with you, you’d probably already have an idea.
Should You Use Apple Cider Vinegar For Indigestion?
As you can see, the jury is still out on whether or not you should use apple cider vinegar for indigestion. While there is research to support the idea that probiotics that come in fermented foods like apple cider vinegar can help with heartburn symptoms, there is not much research on the apple cider vinegar itself.
That said, many people still use apple cider vinegar as a home remedy to treat their acid reflux, and they often report excellent results. And since it doesn’t come with any serious risks for most, there’s no reason you shouldn’t try it if you’re curious.
Who knows, it may be just what you need to get your indigestion in check.