Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is a centuries-old drink that's been said to heal all types of health conditions, from diabetes to eczema. But does this tangy tonic play any role in managing — or causing — dizzy spells?
What Is ACV?
ACV is a fermented beverage made from the juice of apples. Bacteria that's been added to the liquid converts the juice's natural sugars into alcohol, which then transforms the liquid into acetic acid. If the vinegar is cloudy instead of clear and contains floating materials that look "dirty," it means that the product is unrefined. "Unfiltered ACV will contain the 'Mother,'" says Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, CDE, author of 2-Day Diabetes Diet. "This simply refers to the strands of helpful bacteria, enzymes and proteins that give the vinegar a murky appearance."
Those strands of proteins, probiotics, trace minerals, enzymes and polyphenolic compounds (plant-based antioxidants) enhance ACV's curative properties and make it more nutritive. (Clear ACV, while also a fermented beverage, has been filtered of those nutrients, so it isn't as healthful, Wade notes.) "While many have touted ["dirty" apple cider vinegar's] health benefits for years, it is only recently that some researchers have begun to investigate the possible benefits of ACV," says Wade. "However, the studies to date on ACV are mostly small, with a mix of human and animal studies."
Apple Cider Vinegar and Dizziness
One of the many ailments this vinegar is rumored to cause — or treat — is vertigo, which is defined as an illusion of motion combined with a chronic or intermittent sensation of loss of balance, according to the University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics. The most common vertigo symptoms, which can occur when standing or lying down, include:
- Feeling disoriented
- Feeling as if the room is spinning, floating, tilting or whirling
Since feeling woozy can affect your sense of balance, more than four out of 10 people who have experienced an episode of dizziness have sought medical attention, reports the Cleveland Clinic. Yet finding the exact cause behind dizzy spells can be complex. The reason? Balance issues can stem from a wide variety of health conditions and/or lifestyle factors.
According to the University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics, some of the most common triggers for vertigo are cold viruses, head trauma and Meniere's disease, a disorder of the inner ear characterized by dizziness, a roaring sound in the ear and a feeling of ear pressure that comes and goes. Dizziness can also be a side effect of certain medications, including treatments for ear infections, seizure disorders, sleep problems and anxiety, per the Cleveland Clinic.
Dietary habits can also lead to dizziness. For example, an October 2015 study published in the journal International Archives of Otorhinolaryngology found that elderly people who follow an eating plan that's high in unhealthy fats and carbohydrates and low in fiber may develop issues with their triglyceride (body fat) levels, which in turn can lead to benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, a type of dizziness brought on by quick eye or head movements. Dehydration and excess alcohol use can also result in unsteady balance, even in normally healthy people.
While Palinski-Wade says she doesn't know of any research that has established a possible ACV-vertigo relationship, she speculates that the claim may have arisen from an October 2013 study published in the Journal of Functional Foods. That study found a possible association between ACV and lower blood glucose levels in adults at risk for type 2 diabetes. "Perhaps if [someone's] blood sugar dropped too much from ingesting [ACV], that could lead to dizziness," she says. "Doubtful, but I guess it could happen."
The Bottom Line
If you consult your physician about dizzy spells, you will likely be given a series of hearing, balance and blood tests, according to the Mayo Clinic. Medications may be prescribed to treat the exact cause (if determined) or symptoms (such as relief from nausea or drowsiness). Physical therapy (i.e., balance therapy) may also be prescribed, as well as psychotherapy, if the vertigo is found to be linked to an anxiety disorder.
Your doctor may also advise making some dietary adjustments, such as increasing your daily intake of water and cutting back on caffeine, alcohol, salt and tobacco, which have all been linked to dizziness in one way or another, per the Mayo Clinic. But removing — or adding — ACV to your daily regimen is not yet one of the proven strategies for treating chronic dizziness.
"Generally speaking, ACV may be beneficial in small amounts," says Palinski-Wade. "But to prevent negative side effects such as [tooth] enamel erosion, I wouldn't recommend [consuming] more than one to two diluted tablespoons per day."
According to Bonnie Taub-Dix, RDN, CDN, registered dietitian and author of Read It Before You Eat It: Taking You From Label to Table, ACV may thin the blood, so it could also be dangerous for those on blood-thinning medications or those who have problems with blood clotting. Talk to your doctor before adding ACV to your regimen.
- UChicago Medicine: "Debunking the health benefits of ACV"
- University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics: "Vertigo: Frequently asked questions"
- Cleveland Clinic: "Dizziness"
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: "Meniere's Disease"
- Cleveland Clinic: "Dizziness Possible Causes"
- International Archives of Otorhinolaryngology: "Is There a Possible Association Between Dietary Habits and BPPV in the elderly?"
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: "Triglycerides"
- Mayo Clinic: "BPPV"
- Journal of Functional Foods: "Vinegar ingestion at mealtime reduced fasting blood glucose concentrations in healthy adults at risk for type 2 diabetes"
- Mayo Clinic: "Dizziness — Diagnosis and Treatment"