Vinegar has been used as a health remedy for centuries. However, very little scientific study has been done to show vinegar has an effect on improving your health, and it may actually cause harm to your body. Intestinal pain is possible after consuming vinegar, especially if you drink it undiluted. Consult a doctor before trying to supplement with vinegar for any reason.
Vinegar as a Supplement
Vinegar is used in many home remedies. Every condition from skin ailments to IBS to arthritis can supposedly be cured by drinking vinegar, according to "The Vinegar Institute." It can be added to meals as a salad dressing, of course, but for most home remedies, you're supposed to drink it, according to Earl Mindell, M.D., author of "Dr. Earl Mindell's Amazing Apple Cider Vinegar," in a ratio of 2 tbsp. of vinegar for 1 cup of water.
For home remedy use, the main ingredient in vinegar that's supposed to provide benefits is acetic acid, according to Carol S. Johnston, PhD, author of a research review published by "Medscape General Medicine" in 2006. To be vinegar, it must have about 4 percent acidity. However, if the vinegar you drink has more acetic acid than this, you may experience intestinal pain and other negative effects.
According to Health Services at Columbia, drinking vinegar regularly can cause several negative effects, including intestinal pain, due to its high acid content. You may experience burning in the mouth, throat or esophagus, nausea, stomach upset and intestinal discomfort. If you have ulcers, drinking vinegar could make them worse and cause stomach pain.
Another potential effect of drinking vinegar is hypokalemia. According to the Hazardous Substances Data Bank, the acetic acid in vinegar can cause potassium deficiency in those who consume large amounts of vinegar for an extended period of time. This potassium deficiency may cause stomach pain, heartburn and constipation as symptoms, along with nausea and dizziness.
Is This an Emergency?
- The Vinegar Institute: Frequently Asked Questions
- "Medscape General Medicine"; Vinegar: Medicinal Uses and Antiglycemic Effect; Carol S. Johnston, Ph.D., et al.; May 2006
- Hazardous Substances Data Bank: Acetic Acid
- Health Services at Columbia; Go Ask Alice! Apple Cider Vinegar; August 2010
- "Dr. Earl Mindell's Amazing Apple Cider Vinegar"; Earl Mindell, M.D.; 2002