Can Apple Cider Vinegar Damage the Stomach or Esophagus?

Apple cider vinegar is a folk remedy with many purported benefits. You can drink it diluted with water or take it as a supplement in tablets or capsules to avoid the flavor. Apple cider vinegar in any form has the potential to cause side effects related to its acidity. Consult a qualified health care provider before adding apple cider vinegar to your health regimen.


Some alternative health care practitioners claim that apple cider vinegar helps with weight loss, regulates blood pressure and relieves arthritis pain. However, there's no clinical evidence to support these claims. Like any type of vinegar, apple cider vinegar is highly acidic. Consuming apple cider vinegar may cause indigestion or nausea, worsen heartburn or aggravate stomach ulcers, according to eMedTV.

Case Study

There are anecdotal reports of throat burns caused by apple cider vinegar tablets, according to eMedTV. A case study published in the July 2005 issue of the "Journal of the American Dietetic Association" describes the aftereffects of an apple cider vinegar tablet becoming stuck in a woman's throat for 30 minutes. She experienced severe pain and trouble swallowing, and her medical records indicated possible esophageal injury. Her upper gastrointestinal tract appeared normal two weeks after the incident as indicated by a diagnostic endoscopic procedure, but she still had throat pain six months later. Apple cider vinegar tablets may be considered corrosive agents because they can destroy living tissues and cause acid burns, according to the authors.

Incorrect Labeling

Researchers in the 2005 "Journal of the American Dietetic Association" study analyzed several commercial apple cider vinegar supplements for content and discovered discrepancies between the labeling and the content. Labels on two products, for instance, listed a minimum of 35 percent acetic acid, but the products contained only 2 to 3 percent. However, some samples contained a combined acid concentration up to 10 times the amount of household vinegar.


Due to lack of research, a safe and effective dose of apple cider vinegar has not been determined, according to eMedTV. When using tablets or capsules, drink a full glass of water while standing or sitting to wash the supplement down and avoid esophageal damage. If you have difficulty swallowing supplements or if you have a narrowing of your esophagus, taking apple cider tablets or capsules is probably inadvisable. For daily maintenance and for weight loss effects, 2 tsp. of apple cider vinegar mixed in 16 oz. of water is a dose suggested by Earth Clinic Folk Remedies. Sip the mixture throughout the day rather than drinking it all at once.

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