Apple cider vinegar (ACV), a product of fermented apple cider, is a culinary staple and has been used as a medicinal remedy for thousands of years. This fruit vinegar has been touted to prevent and treat a variety of ailments, including ovarian cysts. Despite the claims and testimonials, there is no published research that indicates ACV has a role in the prevention or treatment of these cysts. Consult your health practitioner for advice on how to prevent and manage ovarian cysts.
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Ovarian cysts develop in or on the ovaries, typically as part of the monthly menstrual cycle. The most common ovarian cysts occur when the fluid-filled sacs that hold maturing eggs grow larger than normal. While the majority of ovarian cysts are small and cause no symptoms, some may lead to abdominal pain or discomfort. Larger cysts may cause severe pain, and some may bleed or burst, leading to the need for prompt medical intervention. Most ovarian cysts disappear on their own without treatment. Your doctor may employ a watchful waiting strategy, and in some cases prescribe hormonal therapy to prevent more cysts from forming. Large or painful ovarian cysts may need to be removed surgically. Some women prefer to use alternative means to shrink cysts -- trying ACV, for instance -- hoping to avoid medications or surgery.
ACV is reported to shrink and dissolve ovarian cysts. These cysts are also rumored to be caused by a potassium deficiency, with the claim that ACV provides adequate replacement of this mineral to help treat these cysts. However, there is no research that supports these claims. In addition, apple cider vinegar is fairly low in potassium -- 11 mg per tablespoon. This amount is fairly insignificant compared to the 422 mg in a medium banana or 292 mg potassium in a medium tomato.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a condition characterized by a hormone imbalance, and one of its features is the presence of many small ovarian cysts. The fact that PCOS is linked to excess weight, insulin resistance, increased diabetes risk provides a potential connection to ACV. According to a review in the May 2014 issue of “Journal of Food Science,” the acetic acid, phytochemicals and other health-promoting substances in this fermented drink have been linked to improved blood sugar control and weight loss. A report published in the May 2013 “The Tohoku Journal of Experimental Medicine” showed that women with PCOS who consumed 1 tablespoon of apple vinegar daily for 90 to 110 days had improved insulin action, improved ovarian function and restored menstruation. However, this study was quite small, and did not study this vinegar’s impact on ovarian cysts. More research is needed to understand if ACV has a role in ovarian health.
Warnings and Precautions
If you have ovarian cysts, consult with doctor to understand if treatment is necessary. The use of ACV is not considered harmful, and may offer nutrition and health properties. If you wish to try to treat small cysts with ACV, discuss your plan with your doctor. However, there is no research to support that this vinegar helps shrink or prevent ovarian cysts, and this home remedy should not be used in place of medications or surgery. Let your doctor know if you have any pain that interferes with your normal activities. Seek urgent medical care if you have any bleeding after intercourse, sudden or new abdominal pain, dizziness or fainting, or severe vaginal bleeding.
Reviewed by: Kay Peck, MPH, RD
- The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: Ovarian Cysts
- Journal of Food Science: Functional Properties of Vinegar
- Current Opinion in Food Science: Therapeutic Effects of Vinegar
- Womenshealth.gov: Ovarian Cysts Fact Sheet
- The Tohoku Journal of Experimental Medicine: Intake of Vinegar Beverage Is Associated with Restoration of Ovulatory Function in Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome