Apple cider vinegar or ACV, as its fans called, is a popular natural home remedy for acid reflux. Although researchers claimed that apple cider vinegar has plenty of scientifically-proven benefits, it may not always helpful against acid reflux.
Acid reflux is a medical disease that happens when the contents of your stomach move back up into your food pipe or esophagus. Common symptoms of acid reflux include,
- a) Experiencing burning pain (heartburn) in the lower chest area,
- b) Tasting sour or bitter at the base of your tongue,
- c) Vomiting food or liquid.
If you experience acid reflux symptoms more than twice a week, it may develop into gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) which affects around 20% of people in the United States. When left untreated, acid reflux or GERD can ignite serious medical issues such as complications.
In the world connected with the Internet, you may have read about people giving testimonies regarding apple cider vinegar as a cure for acid reflux. Although ACV has some proven health benefits backed up by science, its benefit regarding acid reflux remains scientifically unproven.
How To Cure GERD Permanently in 6 Ways.
However, the question remains. What are the pros and cons of taking apple cider vinegar as a home remedy for acid reflux?
The Pros of Taking Apple Cider Vinegar For Acid Reflux
Apple cider vinegar has been widely used for centuries in cooking and medicine. Many households across the continent greatly benefit from ACV due to its healing properties including antimicrobial and antioxidant effects.
However, when it comes to acid reflux, there is little evidence in science that ACV can greatly relieve acid reflux. That being said, here are some benefits you may gain.
#1. Apple cider vinegar may prevent heartburn
Zoe Yeh from Arizona State University did thesis research in 2016 regarding apple cider vinegar efficacy related to acid reflux and GERD. In her paper, she found out that raw or unfiltered apple cider vinegar may prevent heartburn.
However, future research is still needed to examine whether ingesting organic apple cider vinegar benefits the alleviation of heartburn symptoms related to GERD for people who do not respond well to antacid.
#2. It might improve acid reflux
There has been no scientific research or theory to support apple cider vinegar’s efficacy to treat acid reflux. However, consuming ACV might improve acid reflux for people who do not take any medications and with minimal risk.
This is due to the same research conducted by Zoe Yeh, that among seven participants, one treatment might have worked very well for a few people. However, the same treatment caused more harm to others.
On a side note, apple cider vinegar may also beneficial if your acid reflux is due to low acid in your stomach. This condition is known as hypochlorhydria which, ironically, often caused by taking too many proton pump inhibitors (PPIs).
#3. ACV helps your digestive system
Originally, apple cider vinegar is meant to help your digestive tract by introducing more acid to your stomach. A higher level of your stomach acidity can help your digestion process more effective and easier.
Theoretically, higher stomach acid levels can prevent gas and bloating due to slow digestion.
The acetic acid in apple cider vinegar is also proven to give you great benefits to fight harmful bacteria in the stomach and other foreign bodies. ACV has an antimicrobial substance to help kill bacteria in the stomach or intestines.
#4. It works for many people
Avoiding food that causes acid reflux may not always easy for some people. Therefore, while the food is being digested, the larger amount of acid in the stomach can cause heartburn.
The apple cider vinegar is also acidic. That’s why taking a spoonful of apple cider vinegar to treat acid reflux may seem counterintuitive. But the good news is, it works for many people.
The extra acid you earn from apple cider vinegar can cause the stomach to stop producing more acid as a counterbalance. In the end, apple cider vinegar helps to reduce heartburn, which can be caused by acid reflux.
#5. Treating acid reflux with apple cider vinegar has low risks
Some people on the Internet might say that ingesting apple cider vinegar should not be the first choice you take for treating acid reflux symptoms.
Though, it is important to consider why you’re getting the symptoms and experiencing heartburn. Acid reflux can be triggered by digesting fatty and spicy foods, alcohol, sour foods, etc. Stop consuming the food trigger may alleviate the problem immediately.
But, you can drink apple cider vinegar if you have acid reflux. While it’s true that there is too little evidence that ACV can help, the risk of trying this home remedy is generally low.
Consider why your acid reflux symptoms appear and how they come about before taking any quick remedy. What are your symptoms? What did you just eat or drink?
Evaluating the series of activity you just did before your symptoms appear can prevent you from the cons of taking apple cider vinegar as a quick remedy. When done poorly, ingesting ACV to give you relief may actually produce the opposite effect. Here are some of the cons.
#1. It may make acid reflux worse
As mentioned in the graduate thesis by Zoe Yeh, apple cider vinegar makes heartburn worse. If you have a very irritated esophagus, you may experience further burning and irritation after ingesting apple cider vinegar.
In a case where your acid reflux is caused by common triggers, ingesting ACV to the digestive system could do more harm than good. It’s likely that your stomach would become too acidic and in fact, could make acid reflux worse.
For moderate and severe acid reflux, heartburn, or GERD, it is advised to seek professional help immediately rather than turning into apple cider vinegar for a remedy.
#2. There isn’t any deep research yet
Although the risk of consuming apple cider vinegar to treat acid reflux is minimal, no research has been conducted to confirm its dosage or safety in long-term usage.
Its efficacy to help acid reflux is widely known among some people and they do have theories that justify the claims. However, apple cider vinegar is not a well-known medication for acid reflux and there hasn’t been any proven treatment.
The purpose of consuming apple cider vinegar for acid reflux raises reasonable questions. Researchers and health experts unanimously agree that there are no scientific studies or medical journals to prove the benefit of ingesting ACV to treat heartburn or reflux.
#3. The side effects of ACV
Other than the fact that ACV might make your heartburn worse, apple cider vinegar has several drawbacks. Consuming ACV can erode your tooth enamel and cause severe dental decay.
Drinking water with 2 tbsp (30ml) of apple cider vinegar can significantly delay the digestion process compared to drinking plain water. This effectively slows down the stomach absorption into the bloodstream.
It can also trigger esophageal burns, especially to someone who already has an irritated throat.
#4. It’s not a reliable option
As mentioned earlier in this article, some people experienced great relief from acid reflux short after ingesting apple cider vinegar. Though, it is important to keep in mind that not everyone can obtain the expected result.
In cases where apple cider vinegar worsens the acid reflux, you are advised not to take ACV as a quick relief from heartburn. When you’re experiencing mild acid reflux, consuming ACV may give you a result although it is not guaranteed.
Apple Cider Vinegar for Acid Reflux, Does It Really Work?
There are various home remedies for acid reflux, but apple cider vinegar has gained its popularity among certain groups of people. Drinking apple cider vinegar is a popularly discussed remedy for relieving heartburn symptoms.
The acetic acid found in ACV can provide some health benefits including alleviating acid reflux in some people. It contains mother properties or better known as “mother of apples” which is high in protein.
Although health experts and physicians have never claimed the benefit of apple cider vinegar in treating patients with acid reflux, some groups of people have claimed that their condition improved after several intakes of ACV in a certain period of time.
Talking about taking apple cider vinegar for acid reflux means that it is necessary to evaluate what the symptoms are and what causes the problem to arise.
People who claimed have benefited greatly from apple cider vinegar mostly have low stomach acid problems. They often mistook it for a high level of stomach acid because both share a lot of similar symptoms.
Some symptoms of low stomach acids are:
- Bloating and cramping
- Food sensitivities
- Asthma and allergies
- Hair loss
- IBS-like symptoms
- Indigestion or gas
Apple Cider Vinegar for Low Acidity in the Stomach
Due to the lack of scientific evidence, another group of people has also stated that treating acid reflux with apple cider vinegar does not make sense. Acid reflux happens when the contents of your stomach rise back up to the esophagus due to a high level of acid inside the stomach.
Adding another acid into the stomach already high on acid seems counterintuitive despite people from the other side of the globe claim its benefits.
Apple cider vinegar is the most useful for people with lower stomach acidity or medically known as hypochlorhydria. One may take ACV to increase the acid level of their stomach and help improve digestion.
Hypochlorhydria typically occurs among old people due to the low production of stomach acid than younger people. If the stomach wasn’t acidic enough to break down the food, digestion becomes difficult which can eventually lead to digestion problems and acid reflux symptoms.
Keep in mind that high-level acid in the stomach is more likely to occur among people. Therefore, treating the acid reflux symptoms with apple cider vinegar is not always the best choice.
Is It Safe?
Generally speaking, consuming apple cider vinegar causes mostly no harm to most people who do not take any medications. This measure is taken to prevent any potential drug interactions.
You are also not advised to consume ACV undiluted. A case study concluded that a 15-year-old girl with a Moroccan background developed tooth erosion after consuming 1 cup (237 ml) of undiluted apple cider vinegar per day.
Though, there isn’t any proven scientific research which states whether consuming apple cider vinegar for acid reflux or any other ailments is safe in the long-term.
As long as you’re consuming ACV within the suggested dose and serving suggestion, the risks are low. The best way to gain the most benefit of ACV is to use it in cooking such as a simple addition to salad dressings and mayonnaise.
You can also dilute it in water and drink it. The most common suggestion is to mix 1 to 2 teaspoons (5 to 10ml) with a large glass of water. The maximum intake of ACV is suggested to be around 1 to 2 tablespoons (15 to 30ml) per day.
How to Stop Acid Reflux Without Apple Cider Vinegar
If you need a quick remedy for heartburn or acid reflux, you can try home remedies such as mixing baking soda with water. This solution makes an alkaline mixture that helps lower your stomach acid level.
Drinking alkaline water is an ideal option to treat acid reflux without irritating your esophagus, alongside with chamomile tea or marshmallow root tea. The last two options will not worsen your acid reflux
Other Acid Reflux and Heartburn Remedies
Probiotics are recommended for various gastrointestinal issues such as diarrhea, bloating, gas, and acid reflux. Keep in mind that you need to purchase probiotics from a reputable and trusted manufacturer. Make sure that you’re getting a quality product.
Aloe Vera Juice
Aloe Vera is widely known as a natural remedy for burns such as sunburn and skin burn. Its efficacy to treat heartburn is not backed up by science, but some people ingest Aloe Vera juice to reduce stomach acid and calm irritation.
As mentioned earlier, combining baking soda with water makes an alkaline mixture that can help lower the acidity of your stomach. Thus, alleviate heartburns and relieve acid reflux. Baking soda mixed with mater also helps the whole digestive system and ease acid reflux symptoms for most people.
A small study indicated that chewing sugar-free gum for 30 minutes after meals could reduce acid levels in your esophagus. However, similar to apple cider vinegar, chewing gum can also worsen the symptoms in some people. That said, the risks are low in chewing gum after lunch or dinner to see if it helps soothe acid reflux.
Maintain Healthy Body weight
Achieving a healthy weight can lower the risk of heartburn due to less pressure on the stomach which prevents the acid to leave the stomach into the esophagus. People who are overweight or obese are at greater risk of acid reflux according to a study published in 2013.
Refrain From Smoking
A review paper from 2015 suggested that smoking and tobacco use contribute to acid reflux by relaxing the muscle between the esophagus and stomach, allowing stomach acid to rise.
Build Good Eating Habits
The best-known method to prevent acid reflux is to practice good eating habits by controlling the food intake. Control your portion on a plate and eat slowly to encourage healthy digestion. Avoid lying down while eating and within the 3 hours after meals.
Keep Your Head Higher
Health experts recommend people with acid reflux to stand up or straighten their posture while experiencing acid reflux. While lying down, the International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders recommends using blocks or wedges to elevate the head of their beds. Gravity can help control reflux.
Avoid Trigger Foods
Prevent acid reflux and heartburn before it happens by avoiding certain food consumption and drinks. Although the triggers may vary from one another, some foods and drinks share similar properties to induce acid reflux. For example:
- Fatty foods
- Sour foods
- Citrus fruits
- Mint, including peppermint
- Spicy foods
- Tomato-based sauce and soup
- Full-fat milk
- Soft drinks
If you do not see any improvement after removing these foods from your diet, you are highly advised to track your food intake and symptoms. This can help you to evaluate your habit and identify your reflux triggers.
When to See a Doctor?
When you’re experiencing heartburn more than twice a week, it can be a sign of gastroesophageal reflux disease known as GERD. When your acid reflux does not improve despite your diet and eating pattern, it’s time to see a doctor.
A gastroenterologist can examine your digestive system and measure the acid level in your stomach to see if frequent acid reflux has damaged or irritated your esophagus.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Apple Cider Vinegar Acidic?
The term vinegar comes from the French phrase vin aigre which means sour wine. It’s widely known that vinegar is acidic. However, some kinds of vinegar are more acidic than others.
Apple cider vinegar is made from apples that are alkalizing. Therefore, ACV contains more alkaline nutrients such as potassium, calcium, and magnesium. Although ACV has alkaline properties, its contents are not enough to make apple cider vinegar alkalizing.
Vinegar is mildly acidic with a pH of 2 to 3. Although apple cider vinegar is slightly more alkaline due to its contents, ACV is still acidic. Despite it contains more alkaline nutrients compared to pure vinegar.
When Should I Take Apple Cider Vinegar for Acid Reflux?
First, you need to evaluate if you’re having mild acid reflux. People who are suffering from moderate to severe acid reflux are highly advised not to take any apple cider vinegar to help relieve acid reflux or heartburns.
Apple cider vinegar is generally safe for people with mild acid reflux. The serving suggestion is between 1 to 2 teaspoons (5 to 10 ml) with a large glass of water. Drink this mixture before or after every meal to reduce acid reflux.
How Do You Make Acid Reflux Go Away Fast?
When you’re experiencing heartburn, you can try one of these methods known to quickly relieve acid reflux.
Loosen your clothing: Tight clothing can cause heartburn because your stomach is compressed. Loosen your belt, pants, or dress can quickly reduce heartburn.
Stand up straight: By standing up or straightening your posture, you put less pressure on your lower esophageal sphincter (LES). The LES is a ring of muscle that helps stop stomach acid from going back up to the esophagus.
Mix baking soda with water: Dissolve 1 teaspoon of baking soda in a large glass of water and drink it slowly.
Chew gum: According to research conducted in 2014, chewing gum for 30 minutes after meals may help reduce heartburn thanks to the production of saliva and swallowing.
Take PPIs: PPIs helps your stomach to produce less acid.
Take antacids: Antacids quickly neutralize stomach acid.
What Foods Neutralize Stomach Acid?
Consuming alkaline foods can benefit you greatly in terms of neutralizing stomach acid. There are foods with higher pH and can help acid reflux. Here are some of them:
In addition, you can also consume watery foods to dilute and weaken stomach acid. Those foods are:
- Broth-based soups
- Herbal tea such as chamomile tea
How to cure acid reflux?
What Are the Best Things to Drink When You Have Acid Reflux?
If you’re experiencing any burning discomfort, burning pain, bloating, and gas, try drinking some of these best remedies known to help people with acid reflux.
Milk: Choose milk wisely as the milk comes in different varieties such as full-fat, 2% fat, and skim or nonfat milk. Choose nonfat milk instead of full-fat as it can aggravate acid reflux.
Ginger: Ginger helps you relieve nausea and acid reflux due to its alkaline nature and anti-inflammatory properties. Both ease irritation in your digestive tract. Once you feel heartburn coming on, sip a ginger tea to alleviate the symptom.
Lemon water: Generally, lemon water is very acidic. But a cup of warm water with lemon juice and honey has an alkalizing effect that helps neutralize stomach acid. In addition to that, honey has natural antioxidants to protect your body cells.