MD, PhD, FMedSci, FRSB, FRCP, FRCPEd.

This is a blog about alternative medicine! A blog that promised to cover all major forms of alternative medicine. So, how could I have so far ignored the incredible health benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)? Realising that this omission is quite frankly scandalous, I now quickly try to make amends by dedicating this entire post to ACV and its fantastic properties.

There is no shortage of information on the subject (almost 1.5 million websites!!!); this article entitled “13 Reasons Apple Cider Vinegar Is the Magic Potion You Need in Your Life”, for instance, tells us about the ’13 Real Benefits of vinegar’. As it was published in the top science journal ‘COSMOPOLITAN’, it must be reliable. The article makes the wonders of ACV very clear:

START OF QUOTE

1. It reduces bloating. Vinegar increases the acidity in the stomach, which allows it to digest the food you’ve eaten and helps propel it into the small intestine, according to Raphael Kellman, MD, founder of the Kellman Center for Integrative and Functional Medicine in New York City. Because slow digestion can cause acid reflux, a burning sensation that occurs when food in your stomach backs up all the way into your esophagus and triggers feelings of fullness, consuming vinegar to move things along can stop you from feeling like the Pillsbury Dough Boy.

2. It increases the benefits of the vitamins and minerals in your food. “When your stomach isn’t producing enough acid, this impairs the absorption of nutrients as well as B6, folate, calcium, and iron,” Dr. Kellman explains. Help your body by ingesting a bit more acid in the form of vinegar, and you’ll actually be able to use all the good stuff you consumed by ordering the side salad instead of fries.

3. It cancels out some of the carbs you eat. The acetic acid found in vinegar interferes with the enzymes in your stomach responsible for digesting starch so you can’t absorb the calories from carbs you’ve eaten.

4. It softens your energy crash after eating lots of sugar or carbs. Consuming vinegar before a meal can help by slowing the rush of sugar to your blood stream, so your blood sugar spike resembles a hill instead of a mountain and you don’t crash quite as hard.

5. It keeps you full longer. In a small but thorough study, researchers found that people who consumed vinegar before eating a breakfast of white bread felt more satisfied 90 minutes after eating compared to people who only ate the bread. (Worth noting: Two hours after eating, both groups were equally hungry. It just goes to show why white bread doesn’t make a stellar breakfast food — with or without vinegar.)

6. It can help your muscles produce energy more efficiently before a major push. Endurance athletes sometimes drink diluted vinegar before they carb-load the night before competing because acetic acid can helps the muscles turn carbs into energy to fuel intense exercise, according to well-regarded research conducted on animals.

7. It could lower your blood pressure. Animal studies suggest that drinking vinegar can lower your blood pressure by a few points. Researchers don’t understand exactly how this works or whether it is equally effective among humans, but Johnston is pretty confident it can make at least a modest difference.

8. It cleans fruits and veggies. The best way to clean produce, according to Johnston, is with diluted vinegar: Research suggests its antibacterial properties can significantly reduce pathogens such as Salmonella. Just fill an empty spray bottle with diluted vinegar and spritz your produce (salad stuff, fruits, etc.) then rinse in regular water before serving.

9. It kills bad breath. You might have heard that the antibacterial properties of vinegar can kill microorganisms responsible for bad breath — and in theory, this is true. However, Johnston warns, “it’s no more effective than any other antibacterial agents, and there are better products designed for this purpose.”

10. It deodorizes smelly feet. Just wipe down your clompers with a paper towel dipped in diluted vinegar. The antibacterial properties of vinegar will kill the smelly stuff.

11. It relieves jellyfish stings. In case you’re ever stung by a jellyfish and just so happen to have diluted vinegar on hand, you’ll be awfully lucky: Vinegar deactivates the jellyfish’s sting better than many other remedies — even though hot water still works best, according to a study that compared both techniques.

12. It balances your body’s pH levels, which could mean better bone health. Although vinegar is obviously acidic, it actually has a neutralizing effect once it’s inside of you. Meaning: It makes your body’s pH more basic (i.e., alkaline).

13. It alleviates heartburn — sometimes, according to Johnston, who just wrapped up a study on using vinegar to treat this condition. Vinegar’s effectiveness depends on the source of your heartburn: If you have erosive heartburn caused by lesions in your esophagus or stomach ulcers, a dose of vinegar will only aggravate the problem. But if your heartburn stems from something you ate, adding acetic acid to your stomach can help neutralize the acid in there and help fix the problem, providing you with at least a little bit of comfort.

END OF QUOTE

What, you are not impressed by these claims nor the references? I found another website that offers plenty more science:

  1. Katie J. Astell, Michael L. Mathai, Andrew J. McAinch, Christos G. Stathis, Xiao Q. Su. A pilot study investigating the effect of Caralluma fimbriata extract on the risk factors of metabolic syndrome in overweight and obese subjects: a randomised controlled clinical trial. Biomedical and Lifestyle Diseases (BioLED) Unit, College of Health and Biomedicine, Victoria University, Melbourne, Victoria 3021, Australia.
  2. Niedzielin, K., Kordecki, H.,
    http://journals.lww.com/eurojgh/Abstract/2001/10000/A_controlled,_double_blind,_randomized_study_on.4.aspx
  3. M. Million, et al. Obesity-associated gut microbiota is enriched in Lactobacillus reuteri and depleted in Bifidobacterium animalis and Methanobrevibacter smithii. International Journal of Obesity (2012) 36, 817–825; doi:10.1038/ijo.2011.153; published online 9 August 2011
  4. Rastmanesh R., et al. High polyphenol, low probiotic diet for weight loss because of intestinal microbiota interaction. Chemico-Biological InteractionsPublished 15 October 2010.
  5. Thielecke F, et al. Epigallocatechin-3-gallate and postprandial fat oxidation in overweight/obese male volunteers: a pilot study Eur J Clin Nutr. 2010 Jul;64(7):704-13. doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2010.47.
  6. Wang H., Effects of catechin enriched green tea on body composition. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2010 Apr;18(4):773-9. doi: 10.1038/oby.2009.256.
  7. Bitange Nipa Tochi, Zhang Wang, Shi – Ying Xu and Wenbin Zhang, 2008. Therapeutic Application of Pineapple Protease (Bromelain): A Review. Pakistan Journal of Nutrition, 7: 513-520.
  8. Date K, Satoh A, Iida K, Ogawa H. Pancreatic α-Amylase Controls Glucose Assimilation by Duodenal Retrieval through N-Glycan-specific Binding, Endocytosis, and Degradation. J Biol Chem. 2015 May 28. pii: jbc.M114.594937.
  9. Perano SJ,Couper JJ,Horowitz M, Martin AJ, Kritas S, Sullivan T, Rayner CK. Pancreatic enzyme supplementation improves the incretin hormone response and attenuates postprandial glycemia in adolescents with cystic fibrosis: a randomized crossover trial.J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2014 Jul;99(7):2486-93. doi: 10.1210/jc.2013-4417. Epub 2014 Mar 26.

Ok, not plenty; and not very sound or relevant either.

So, let’s do a Medline search! This is sure to produce convincing clinical trials on human patients that back up all of the above claims.

Yes! Medline does indeed generate 58 hits for ACV (just to give you a comparison, searching for ‘atenolol’, a fairly ancient beta-blocker, for instance, generates 7877 hits and searching for ‘acupuncture’ provides more that 27 000 hits):

The first human study of ACV listed on Medline is from one of my favourite journals, the . It is not a clinical trial, but a case report:

A 32-y-old married woman was admitted with intense vaginal discharge with foul odor, itching, groin pain, and infertility for the past 5 y. Candida albicans was isolated from the culture of vaginal swab. The patient was diagnosed with chronic vaginal candida infection. She failed to respond to integrative medicine methods prescribed. Recovery was achieved with the application of apple cider vinegar. Alternative treatment methods can be employed in patients unresponsive to medical therapies. As being one of these methods, application of apple cider vinegar can cure vaginal candida infection.

But surely that cannot be all!

No, no, no! There is more; a pilot study has also been published. It included all of 10 patients and concluded that vinegar affects insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus patients with diabetic gastroparesis by reducing the gastric emptying rate even further, and this might be a disadvantage regarding to their glycaemic control.

That’s what I like! A bold statement, even though we are dealing with a tiny pilot. He who dares wins!

Anything else?

Afraid not! The rest of the 58 references are either animal studies, in vitro experiments or papers that were entirely irrelevant for the clinical effects of ACV.

But how can this be?

Does this mean that all the claims made by ‘COSMOPOLITAN’ and thousands of other publications are bogus?

I cannot imagine – no, it must mean that, yet again, science has simply not kept up with the incredible pace of alternative medicine.

 

17 Responses to The incredible health benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar

  • You see, that’s what Johnny Foreigner can’t quite grasp.
    In Britain, people eat chips all the time. The reason there isn’t an epidemic of obesity there is because they normally put vinegar on them, unlike other nations who have, for crying out loud, mayonnaise.
    Crete has to have doorways twice as wide now, or people have to get in the building sideways or through a window, because often they don’t have vinegar, only lemon juice. Although here the message becomes a trifle confused, since homeopathy fans make great claims for that, including that it ‘tackles’ cancer,, to use Noel Edmonds’ phrase from another context, and especially when applied to the inside of the elbows ( I am not making this up).
    If you haven’t go to the Cancer Tutor site to keep abreast of the latest breakthroughs.

  • Wow!! So much total bollocks in a single article!

    “Vinegar increases the acidity in the stomach”. Err, no, cider vinegar has a higher pH than the stomach, so it’s likely to lower stomach acidity.

    “When your stomach isn’t producing enough acid, this impairs the absorption of nutrients as well as B6, folate, calcium, and iron”. Err, no, very few chemicals are absorbed directly from the stomach: they include aspirin, some fat-soluble drugs ethanol and caffeine. Once food passes from the stomach into the the small intestine — the main site of nutrient absorption — the acid is neutralized. Many people (including doctors) have the habit of using ‘the stomach’ as a layman’s synonym for ‘the belly’ or ‘the digestive tract’. This is not a good practice: the stomach is the first, small part of the whole digestive tract.

    “The acetic acid found in vinegar interferes with the enzymes in your stomach responsible for digesting starch so you can’t absorb the calories from carbs you’ve eaten.” Err, no, the enzymes found in the stomach are pepsin and a lipase. Neither of these digests starch: pepsin is a protein-degrading enzyme, lipase(s) break down lipids.

    “Animal studies suggest that drinking vinegar can lower your blood pressure by a few points. Researchers don’t understand exactly how this works or whether it is equally effective among humans, but Johnston is pretty confident it can make at least a modest difference.” I’m pretty confident Johnston prefers belief systems over reality.

    “Research suggests vinegar’s antibacterial properties can significantly reduce pathogens such as Salmonella.” This is true! However, disinfecting your food with cider vinegar will be less effective than with, say, white or red wine vinegar, because (see pH link above) the acidity of cider vinegar is the lowest among vinegars!

    I can’t be bothered to go on. This is a laugh-out-loud piece of nonsense. The most worrisome aspect of the article is that, if you have a hiatus hernia and/or gastro-oesophageal reflux disease, ingesting vinegar has the potential to exacerbate the symptoms. Please note also that many of the claims made are for types of vinegar other than (apple) cider vinegar.

  • Since you are interested in the evidence of the benefits of vinegar, be it apple cider vinegar or vinegar, you might like to look at these videos about vinegar and apple cider vinegar:

    https://nutritionfacts.org/video/can-vinegar-help-with-blood-sugar-control/
    https://nutritionfacts.org/video/apple-cider-vinegar-help-weight-loss/
    https://nutritionfacts.org/video/optimal-vinegar-dose/
    https://nutritionfacts.org/video/can-vinegar-help-with-blood-sugar-control/

    It is easier to attack homeopathy and chiropractice than to attack the alternative medicine of food.

    I am still looking forward to blogs attacking the use of alternative medicine of food in the prevention and treatment of illness compared to the use of pharmaceutical drugs.

    • “…the use of alternative medicine of food in the prevention and treatment of illness…”
      do you think that makes sense?
      if so, please explain what it means; what is ‘alternative medicine of food’?

    • Still hanging in there with videos as ‘evidence’ of something, eh, Peter?

    • In fact, Peter, the first video you link to begins by displaying the scientific publication it’s about, so I wonder why you didn’t simply look up and read the original paper. Like most serious scientists, I prefer to see what the organ grinder’s offering rather than the monkey’s interpretation of the tune.

      The paper by Kondo et al. describes a double-blind trial in which 155 obese subjects were randomized to daily ingestion of a beverage containing 0 mL, 15 mL or 30 mL of vinegar, over a 12-week period. Both groups who drank the acetic acid had statistically significant reductions in body weight, body mass index (BMI), visceral fat area, waist circumference and serum triglyceride levels. The authors conclude that “…daily intake of vinegar might be useful in the prevention of metabolic syndrome by reducing obesity.”

      This all sounds great till you get into the detail of the paper. No description of the randomization protocol, measurements made to ludicrous degrees of precision and several well-known fudges to make the data look better. The paper teems with multiple statistical comparisons, so it’s not surprising that some of them turn out to be ‘statistically significant’. But they’re just not medically significant: take the BMI data as just one example. Is there really anything to get excited about when the average BMI for the groups at the start were 74 kg (placebo), 75 kg (low vinegar) and 73 kg (high vinegar) and after 12 weeks became 75 kg, 74 kg and 71 kg, respectively? (Standard deviations for these data ranged from 8 to 12 kg.) If you can see that as a reduction in obesity, please tell me where you bought your rose-tinted specs.

      Sorry, Peter; you’ve told us before of your philosophy and lifestyle, and you’re very welcome to it, but please don’t imagine your videos or — in the present case — the publications on which they’re based are of the quality that amounts to unequivocal proof of anything.

    • It is easier to attack homeopathy and chiropractice than to attack the alternative medicine of food.

      I am still looking forward to blogs attacking the use of alternative medicine of food in the prevention and treatment of illness compared to the use of pharmaceutical drugs.

      What exactly is food for Peter? His personal action hero? A Batman vs. Superman thing?

  • Madness. Every child in Britain knows vinegar only works in association with brown paper.

  • You might want to watch the following ABC science program Catalyst from 9.45m on the benefits of vinegar….

    http://www.abc.net.au/catalyst/stories/4511643.htm

    • Mostly guesswork about mode of action and preliminary studies on mice. No proper human trials. Uncinvincing hypotheses. Not enough to make me start believing in medicinal properties of overfermented applejuice or other sources of acetic acid.

  • I see that my fans have been active again. I suggest that you all ignore various kinds of food as a source of healing and stick to your pharmaceutical drugs.

    James: I could answer your question, but this forum is the wrong place to do so because everyone here seems to believe that only Big Pharma’s drugs and “the knife” can cure illness. Certain foods restore balance in the body, and when the balance is restored, the illness goes away. Just like (organic) spinach smoothies made my wife’s knee problem disappear yesterday within 24 hours. In addition, various techniques restore the energy balance in the body, but I won’t mention those because they do not fit into the Big Pharma paradigm of bloggers here.

    When either my wife or I have a sign of imbalance, we just solve it with a vegetable, herb, or fruit from the garden. Or with something from an old man up the road who combines herbs. We live in Thailand.

    Lastly, I wish all my “chemical” fans a joyful Christmas and a bountiful 2018. Oh … if you get heartburn over the last week of the year, remember that Big Pharma sells expensive chemical concoctions, which might help. Possibly with nasty side-effects for free! (I use a herbal concoction, by the way. The problem is solved in minutes)

    • Peter McAlpine the story with your wife’s knee is very illuminating and nearly enlightening. It shows that obviously you never joined any course in philosophy about logic. Your conclusions are priceless …
      I would recommend to read this:
      https://www.csicop.org/si/show/why_bogus_therapies_seem_to_work

    • No worries Peter. I don’t believe sound science is abundant here in the comment section. When my own doctors couldn’t diagnose my indigestion issues and told me that it was all in my head and kept prescribing pain medication instead. I ended up crying about it as the days went on and it became so bad that I couldn’t go in to work. It only took it about a week of using ACV (and only diluted with water) that I started to feel better. It’s the reason I turned to chemistry and nutrigenomics for an answer. Many of these things can be scams but to dismiss them all is really as far from scientific as any person cam be. Scientists are not biased. And if these people knew the basics we could have educated conversations.

      Acetic acid is used in ear drop medicine for ear infection so that alone should appease them while the common pharmaceutical drugs like cortisoids are known to make the situation worse. Link: https://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm453087.htm

      • “And if these people knew the basics we could have educated conversations.”

        Agreed. What are the ‘basics’ we don’t know?

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