Apple cider vinegar, a popular folk recipe embraced by many alternative medicine practitioners, contains acetic acid. Its acid content can have harsh effects on skin and mucus membranes in the mouth and throat, and it can also affect tooth enamel. Apple cider vinegar can also interfere with the absorption of nutrients such as potassium, as well as increase the effects of some medications. Drinking apple cider vinegar every day, especially if you don't dilute it enough, increases your risk of developing side effects.
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Mucus Membrane Injury
The inside of the mouth, the throat and the esophagus, the tube that leads to the stomach, are lined with mucus membrane, a type of tissue that can burn when exposed to acid. Taking apple cider vinegar every day, especially if you don't drink enough water when taking it in tablet form or if you don't adequately dilute the liquid, can cause throat pain and make it difficult to swallow, according to the Kristi Monson, Pharm.D., for eMedTV. The site also notes that there have been reports that apple cider vinegar tablets can cause burns, which can cause permanent damage to the throat or esophagus. Heartburn and nausea are also possible side effects.
Apple cider vinegar can cause potassium levels to fall, according to eMedTV. Low potassium, medically termed hypokalemia, can cause heart arrhythmias, muscle weakness or breakdown, constipation, fatigue or paralysis that can interfere with breathing. If you take medications that can cause low potassium levels, such as diuretics, do not take apple cider vinegar without talking to your doctor first.
Apple cider vinegar improved insulin sensitivity and lowered blood sugar levels in an Arizona State University study reported in the January 2004 issue of "Diabetes Care." Acetic acid may have effects similar to diabetes medications. While this has benefits, it could also cause an increase in episodes of hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, in diabetics. If you have diabetes, ask your doctor about how to take apple cider vinegar and monitor blood sugars carefully to avoid hypoglycemia.
Apple cider vinegar can act as an anticoagulant, or blood thinner. If you already take blood thinners or if you have problems with blood clotting, do not take apple cider vinegar without your doctor's approval. You could develop spontaneous bleeding or hemorrhage after injury.
Over time, the acetic acid in apple cider vinegar can erode the enamel on your teeth, increasing your risk of developing cavities. Flushing the pills with lots of water or diluting the liquid can help reduce this risk.
- eMedTV; Apple Cider Vinegar; Kristi Monson, Pharm.D.
- "Journal of the American Dietetic Association"; Esophageal Injury by Apple Cider Vinegar Tablets and Subsequent Evaluation of Products; L. Hill, et al.; July 2005
- Columbia University's Health Q&A Internet Service; Apple Cider Vinegar; August 2010
- MedlinePlus: Hypokalemia
- "Diabetes Care"; Vinegar Improves Insulin Sensitivity to a High-Carbohydrate Meal in Subjects with Insulin Resistance or Type 2 Diabetes; Carol Johnston, Ph.D., et al.; January 2004