Eastern medicine employs certain foods and herbs to promote health, but the uses aren't always backed by science. An example is apple cider vinegar detox. While the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine says the vinegar can detoxify the liver, researchers in the west haven't investigated the claim.
Apple Cider Vinegar Detox Basics
The apple cider vinegar cleanse involves consuming 1 or 2 tablespoons of raw apple cider vinegar mixed with 8 ounces of water. Some people add honey, lemon juice, maple syrup or spices. The mixture is consumed for several days to a month, and many people choose to drink it three times a day. Check with your doctor before adding this to your daily regimen.
Proponents say the detox fosters weight loss and offers a broad range of other health benefits. However, it's important to note that the body of research on apple cider vinegar is small. While some studies suggest it may have value for various health disorders, other investigations indicate that at least some of the claims associated with it are based on folklore rather than evidence.
Research on Weight Loss
Harvard Health Publishing reports that the limited number of studies doesn't offer proof that apple cider vinegar effectively helps with weight loss. The institution says the study quoted most frequently is an April 2009 clinical trial that appeared in Bioscience, Biotechnology and Biochemistry. The researchers compared the effects of consuming 1 or 2 tablespoons of vinegar with those of not consuming any at all. After three months, the participants who ingested the daily dose of vinegar showed a small weight loss and a decrease in belly fat and triglycerides.
Some proponents of apple cider vinegar tout it for suppressing appetite. According to a small May 2014 study on 16 adults published in the International Journal of Obesity, this possible benefit remains unproven. The researchers looked at how appetite was affected by drinking a vinegar-augmented beverage and compared what they found with the effects of drinking a placebo. Individuals who drank the vinegar beverage showed an appetite reduction, but it was linked to feelings of nausea, drawing the conclusion that vinegar isn't a natural appetite suppressant.
A May 2016 experiment published in the Annals of Cardiology and Angiology dealt with rats, but its positive findings indicate that apple cider vinegar may be beneficial for weight loss in humans because it prevents some of the detrimental health effects of eating a high-fat diet. The authors state that the vinegar improved blood glucose and lipids and appeared to prevent the atherosclerotic effect on arteries.
Research on Other Benefits
Some small studies are preliminary, offering no definitive proof of apple cider's efficacy in treating or preventing diabetes or any other malady. Nonetheless, taken together, they indicate that apple cider vinegar may be at least somewhat beneficial for health.
The findings of a small May 2015 study published in the Journal of Diabetes Research suggest that apple cider vinegar has an anti-diabetic effect. Focusing on diabetic subjects, the clinical trial compared the effects of consuming vinegar before eating a meal with those of consuming a placebo. Vinegar reduced the post-meal elevation in insulin, blood sugar and triglycerides. The results demonstrate that the benefits may stem partly from vinegar's capacity to improve the action of insulin in the skeletal muscles.
In a small clinical trial featured in the April 2018 issue of the Journal of Functional Foods, apple cider vinegar improved the metabolic profile of the 39 obese participants. After taking 1 tablespoon of vinegar daily for 12 weeks, the individuals experienced a reduction in triglycerides and total cholesterol, along with a decrease in HDL, otherwise known as "bad" cholesterol.
Research also shows that apple cider vinegar may have antifungal properties. An April 2018 case report published in the International Journal of Dentistry and Oral Health involved a 69-year-old candida patient treated with the vinegar; after seven days, the infection reduced by 94 percent. In a November 2017 case report featured in Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, a 32-year-old woman with candida who hadn't responded to other interventions was treated with the vinegar and the infection cleared.
Apple cider vinegar has demonstrated antibacterial effects in test-tube studies. Research published in January 2018 in Scientific Reports revealed the vinegar might have value in treating infections that are resistant to antibiotic treatment. After testing the vinegar on cultures of several classes of bacteria, the scientists concluded its antimicrobial properties have "clinical therapeutic implications."
An April 2017 study published in the European Journal of Nutrition involved rats, but it bears mentioning because it suggests the possibility that apple cider vinegar may help reduce blood pressure. The authors state that, although scientific literature includes reports of vinegar's blood pressure-lowering effect, the underlying mechanism of action by which this occurs isn't known. They concluded that vinegar stimulates the AMP-activated protein kinase, which is one of the main regulators of cellular metabolism.
Apple Cider Vinegar Side Effects
While apple cider vinegar detox is no substitute for a healthy lifestyle that includes a nutritious diet, exercise, adequate sleep and abstinence from smoking, it appears to offer wellness advantages. The University of Chicago Medicine states that the vinegar is generally safe, but you should be aware of possible side effects.
Acetic acid in the vinegar can eat away tooth enamel, so dilute it before drinking and rinse your mouth with water afterward. Individuals with chronic kidney disease might not be able to handle the excess acid, warns UCM.
The University of Washington advocates not taking more than 1 or 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar per day. Consuming larger amounts can lower potassium levels, an effect that could have dire consequences. Vinegar also interacts with certain medications, including diuretics, laxatives and drugs for heart disease and diabetes.
Because large amounts of vinegar can irritate the throat, you shouldn't consume more than the recommended daily limit warns the Mayo Clinic. An alternative to consuming a diluted apple cider vinegar drink is to include the vinegar in food. Add it to salad dressings, juices, smoothies, sauces and soups.
- Pacific College of Oriental Medicine: "What Does Apple Cider Vinegar Not Do?"
- Bioscience, Biotechnology and Biochemistry: "Vinegar Intake Reduces Body Weight, Body Fat Mass, and Serum Triglyceride Levels in Obese Japanese Subjects"
- International Journal of Obesity: "Influence of the Tolerability of Vinegar as an Oral Source of Short-Chain Fatty Acids on Appetite Control and Food Intake"
- Annales de Cardiologie et d'Angéiologie: "Anti-Obesogenic Effect of Apple Cider Vinegar in Rats Subjected to a High Fat Diet"
- Journal of Diabetes Research: "Vinegar Consumption Increases Insulin-Stimulated Glucose Uptake by the Forearm Muscle in Humans With Type 2 Diabetes"
- Journal of Functional Foods: "Beneficial Effects of Apple Cider Vinegar on Weight Management, Visceral Adiposity Index and Lipid Profile in Overweight or Obese Subjects Receiving Restricted Calorie Diet: A Randomized Clinical Trial"
- Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine: "Vaginal Candidiasis Infection Treated Using Apple Cider Vinegar: A Case Report"
- Scientific Reports: "Antimicrobial Activity of Apple Cider Vinegar Against Escherichia Coli, Staphylococcus Aureus and Candida Albicans; Downregulating Cytokine and Microbial Protein Expression"
- European Journal of Nutrition: "Vinegar Decreases Blood Pressure by Down-Regulating AT1R Expression via the AMPK/PGC-1α/PPARγ Pathway in Spontaneously Hypertensive Rats"
- University of Chicago Medicine: "Debunking the Health Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar"
- University of Washington: "Beyond the Hype: Apple Cider Vinegar as an Alternative Therapy"
- Mayo Clinic: "Drinking Apple Cider Vinegar for Weight Loss Seems Far-Fetched. Does It Work?"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Apple Cider Vinegar Diet: Does It Really Work?"
- International Journal of Dentistry and Oral Health: "The Effect of Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) as an Antifungal in a Diabetic Patient (Type II Diabetes ) With Intraoral Candidosis: (A Case Report)"