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Can apple cider vinegar improve digestion?

2012 February 2
apple cider vinegar

When researching natural remedies for digestive problems, there’s one that comes up again and again: apple cider vinegar. I remember being pumped to try it a couple of years ago after reading about its stomach-relieving properties. Then I opened a bottle and the pungent “feet” smell hit me. Needless to say, my motivation went away.

This scenario played out a few more times until I finally got used to taking a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar a day. And my conclusion is that once you get over the taste (diluting it in water makes a big difference), it really can help your digestive system run more smoothly.

What does apple cider vinegar do for your gut? It can help stimulate hydrochloric acid (HCl) in the stomach, which is responsible for breaking down foods. If you don’t produce enough HCl, you can be classified as having an “underactive stomach” (something holistic nutritionist Peggy Kostopoulos covers in her recent book). Symptoms of an underactive stomach – also called hypochlorhydria – can include excessive gas and belching after meals, as well as an “over full” feeling, abdominal pain and cramping. 

I recently read an article where Chinese medicine guru and author Dr. Mao was  talking about how apple cider vinegar can balance the digestive system. Here’s his take:

“Traditionally apple cider vinegar is used to remedy digestive distress, aid in detoxification, and to reduce intestinal bloating. Mix one tablespoon of organic apple cider vinegar with 12 ounces of warm water and drink it in the morning on an empty stomach. The acetic and butyric acids promote gastrointestinal health by balancing your pH and encouraging friendly bifido bacterial growth.”

I like the image of my stomach pumping out more acid to help me process my food better…don’t you? And compared to buying digestive enzymes, which are also used to promote HCl production, apple cider vinegar is a significantly cheaper option. That said, if buying it for a stomach remedy, stick to organic kinds that include the “mother” (the “mother” being the starter bacterial culture used to make vinegar). One such kind is Bragg, which you can find at most health food stores.

And, oh yes…back to the taste. It may take some getting used to, but if you need help getting it down, Dr. Mao recommends adding a little honey, maple syrup or lemon water to take the edge off. I should also mention ACV is great in salad dressings mixed with olive or flax oil.

Have you tried taking apple cider vinegar as a digestive aid? Do you stick with the tablespoon-a-day dosage? I’d love to hear more on this topic!

34 Responses leave one →
  1. Steph permalink
    February 3, 2012

    I’ve never used apple cider vinegar for digestion but my TCM doctor has recommended it to help with a throat condition I had. The vinegar was a good way to dissolve anything that builds up in your throat.

    While I don’t have serious digestive issues, ACV is a good natural way to maintain a healthy and happy tummy.

    • Erin permalink*
      February 4, 2012

      Hey Steph,
      That’s interesting about the throat! I hear ACV is also good for your joints…seems to be a bit of a wonder elixir. :)

  2. Lloyd permalink
    July 8, 2012

    It’s good for the joints. I’ve been taking it for about 3 weeks and I have noticed that when I wake up in the morning I no longer feel the stiffness in the my fingers that I used to have.

  3. ella permalink
    August 7, 2012

    Hi there,

    I had a bad dust allergic reaction last weekend and tried an acv+water concoction. Lo and behold, the itchiness and sneezing stopped soon after.

    I’ve also just started taking the cocktail after meals over the last 3-4 days and my digestion has definitely improved. I’m observing the Ramadhan fast which always wreaks havoc on my already sluggish system, and for the first time, I feel a lot of relief.

    • Erin permalink*
      September 19, 2012

      Wow, interesting about the sneezing! And good to hear it’s improving your digestion as well.

  4. December 3, 2012

    I’ve been using ACV for about 3 days now and notice my back is not giving me any problems. In addition I also suffer from PMS an notice a dramatic change in the way my period comes on. No cramps and no headaches. Thanks ACV [organic Braggs]. Miami, Florida 12-2-12.

  5. Sam permalink
    December 9, 2012

    I’ve been using ACV for several years, mainly in salads. Whenever I do, I notice healthier bowel movements, often the next morning. Based on my own experience, I would recommend ACV, along with healthy food choices, for people looking to improve digestion and regularity.

  6. December 14, 2012

    I started taking apple cider vinegar almost three weeks ago. I followed the instruction on the label. 15ml ACV with 250ml water , three times a day.

    Here are some of the benefits I noticed:
    – I normally felt some pain on my sole, it was immediately relieved that first night I had ACV
    – I normally feel bloated after every meal, I tried to reduce my food intake but still feel bloated, and (excuse me) I normally pass gas , and this has improved within the first three days , less belching ..
    – i noticed improved digestion , better bowel movement
    – i am experiencing some pain at the back of my neck due to lack of sleep, even if I had regained sleep on the following days, with ACV I noticed the pain went away.
    – i do not easily catch cold, sometimes I start sneezing in the office in the morning (probably caught from my colleagues sneezing as well ) , later in the afternoon I stopped sneezing already but them not. I could say it helped my immune system.

    i noticed other improvements , but I still suggest take ACV moderately and do not overdo it.
    improve your food intake with fruits & veggies as well, ACV will complement your diet well, and do not forget to exercise daily ..

    and oh drink lots of water daily it is very important for your body to function well .


    – archiemr4

    • Erin permalink*
      December 15, 2012

      Interesting stuff! Thank you for sharing.

  7. December 14, 2012

    correction I made a type , it is 10 ml (2 tsp) per 250 ml (8oz) water .. and I am taking Bragg ACV
    (organic raw-unfiltered – with the ‘mother’)

  8. Heather permalink
    January 29, 2013

    I could drink the ACV, but I found it in a supplement form and take two tables 3x’s a day. I still have to take them barred in yogurt because I can’t handle the smell or taste. By taking them I noticed it helped with my restless leg syndrome, sleeping, and my digestive system! All within three days!

    Over the years I’ve tried everything and seen plenty of doctors none however said anything about this wonderful solution, instead I was put on a number of different medications. That would either help my restless leg syndrome and cause me to have constipation or my legs would drive me nuts at night and I would have diarrhea.

    I did have gastric bypass surgery about 6 years ago, so I have been reluctant to do anything natural without a doctor first telling me about it. But thankfully my son, after seeing me in pain so many times from my stomach told me “just try it for a couple of days, if it doesn’t work you’ll know but if it does it’s better than going to the doctors and all you have to do is stand in the grocery store line to pick it up!” I did it! And I feel great!!! No more stomach aches, my restless leg syndrome had drastically improved and I sleep (although I think that’s because my rsl has improved) at night.

    All these years and I’ve walked by this in the store and didn’t know. If you haven’t tried this take my son’s advice “just try it for a couple of days what do you have to loose?”.

    I promise you won’t regret it!!

    • Heather permalink
      January 29, 2013

      Correction I couldn’t handle the taste of ACV in liquid with water, even with honey. The supplements smell awful also, but I can handle them much better.

  9. March 2, 2013

    Questions please….

    Should one continue to take AVC daily as A preventative measure after the symptoms abate?
    If so how much?

    I understand ACV keeps the bodys PH balanced where it should be. Is that correct?

    Are probiotics and other supplements ok to continue while taking ACV?


    • Erin permalink*
      March 4, 2013

      Hi there,
      I’m no medical expert on this, but from what I’ve read you can take ACV daily as a preventative measure and I’ve gone through spurts of doing this with good results. However, I wouldn’t recommend taking more than a couple of tablespoons a day. I think it’s fine to take with probiotics – the one thing I heard you shouldn’t take it with is HCL supplements (which people use to increase stomach acid).

  10. David permalink
    March 2, 2013

    I love it. Is that weird? I get a giant 64 ounce cup, fill it with water, add four tablespoons Bragg’s ACV, juice from half a lemon, some vanilla stevia extract to taste (I like it sweet) and occasionally I’ll add a really healthy tea like the amazing Dragon Herbs Longevity tea Ron Teaguarden makes. It’s like a refreshing exotic lemonade to me. And helps my otherwise horrible digestive issues, sluggishness, allergies… And it’s a better choice than soda. :-)

    • Erin permalink*
      March 4, 2013

      That sounds like a great combination! I like the idea of mixing it up.

  11. June 14, 2013

    Another great use for vinegar is for scalp conditions. I periodically get psoriasis/dermatitis. Whenever I get a flareup, I rinse my scalp with ACV. My scalp tingles, but it’s totally welcome after the itching! … and the breakout typically goes away after 1 treatment. I then rinse my hair with regular water and little shampoo (to mask any vinegar smell). Any vinegar odor quickly fades after I dry my hair. I’ve done this for years and it hands-down beats any other prescription shampoo or treatment I’ve tried. I’m not sure why it works (something about the pH I’m sure, but came across this suggestion years ago and it’s been a proven winner).

  12. Kathy permalink
    July 12, 2013

    I drink 8 oz glass of water every morning with a tablespoon of Braggs ACV and a matching tablespoon of honey before my morning coffee or breakfast. It has reduced my gas and bloating and stopped my acid reflux. After reading some other comments it occurs to me that my planters fasciitis has really improved also.

  13. August 13, 2013

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  14. maya permalink
    August 20, 2013

    I started taking 2 tablespoons of ACV with mineral water and a bit of honey about 3 weeks ago. My skin improved a lot (didn’t have any problem, but it became “softer”). However, my digestion – the main aim for me to start drinking ACV- got worse! Now I have a constipation problem. I’m not sure if it’s my body adjusting to the vinegar…Anybody else had a similar reaction?

    • Lucent permalink
      August 27, 2013

      Maya if you drink the crap ACV – Apple Cider Vinegar, you get at your local grocery normally the clear looking ones it can give you problems. Rather get good murky looking one from you local health shop.

      It must be Raw, organic, unfiltered and unpasteurized, Apple Cider Vinegar.

      Anything else will probably be counter productive at around 15ml in a glass of water. once or twice a day.

      PS I actually love the taste of ACV in water especially in Soda Water.
      But the cheap Junk ones do taste “Not so Good”

  15. Roxy permalink
    August 25, 2013

    Acv took care of my sinus infection! I’m hoping it will take care of my daughters belly ache.

  16. leah krafft permalink
    August 28, 2013

    My dad used to make me drink ACV for just about everything as a child! Now an adult, I recently moved to Mexico, and my stomach is not adapting to the transition very well. I would like to start some ACV therapy, but I cannot find any of the great brands that still contain the “mother”. Is it futile to use a processed vinegar? Or may there still be some benefit?

  17. Julie permalink
    August 28, 2013

    Helps me with heartburn. Does anybody know if it regulates glucose levels?

  18. Mike Mcgee permalink
    September 22, 2013

    What people don’t realize is that Organic ACV is actually eliminating the root cause of various symptoms, like stiff and painful joints, immune support, high blood sugar levels, pH levels, intestinal gas, etc. The cause? CANDIDA ALBANICUS.

    Candida is rampant throughout the U.S. with our diet of processed foods. It is my firm belief that many people suffer from it, because the environment for it to thrive is so prevalent in our society, and its effects are so readily seen. It is often misdiagnosed as more serious disorders. And almost never diagnosed as “candida infection”.

    It’s a form of intestinal flora (yeast) that is used to break down rotting/fermenting material, like undigested meat. When the other bacteria is starved (no vegetables, raw fruits), and the candida is fed in abundance, it takes over. As it grows it releases toxins which weaken the immune system.

    Using Organic ACV with “The Mother” (enzymes) is a great remedy for CANDIDA, which in turn remedies all of the things Candida causes in our body. Sneezing, runny nose, etc. from compromised immune system. Pain in knees, stiffness in fingers, from the TOXINS (identical to those from alcohol poisoning but much greater than a typical hangover) that Candida releases when it dies. By encouraging the production of HCL in the stomach to break down foods, which in turn eliminates gas which is caused by undigested foods which ferment in the gut- this fermentation is VERY appetizing to Candida. It’s what they eat.

    While taking ACV, if you start getting very sick, migraines, extreme fatigue.. then it’s working. It’s removing the Candida, which is releasing a lot of toxins as it dies. To prevent this and help eliminate the toxins, be sure to consume sufficient insoluble and soluble fiber.

    • Cangie permalink
      October 20, 2013

      Hi Mike
      Thanks for sharing your knowledge. I have been taking ACV (1 tablespoon diluted in water) for about 2 weeks and my digestive issues seem to have gotten worse also. If this is due to the Candida releasing toxins as it dies, how long do you think it could take before things begin to improve. I am worried that the ACV could be causing damage to the stomach or small intestine and this is the cause of my symptoms (abdominal pain, extreme bloating, etc)

      Thanks in advance.

  19. Leo permalink
    January 16, 2014

    Excellent way to take Apple Cider is to add it to black tea, I like the taste actually.

  20. February 23, 2014

    I have spent this entire winter having tests (chest Xray, blood test, EKG, Echocardiogram, Upper GI, and a throat check because I was having chest pain and a feeling like something was stuck in my throat especially when I took a pill. I was told my heart was fine but that I probably had Acid Reflux. I was told to take Prilosec but it just seemed to be worse. I was also having anxiety attacks and was presccribed Zoloft and Xanex which I only took when I absoluetly had too. After reading about home remedies for Acid Reflux I saw apple cidar vinegar as a common thread. I finally decided to at least try it so I bought the unpastureized and started drinking a small glass with a capful of vinegar in warm water first thing in the morning and at noon and evening meals. In less than a week and I can’t believe how much better I feel. No more chest pain, no heart burn, my stomach does not hurt, my throat feels fine and no more anxiety. And as an added benefit I feel like my skin is not as dry. Made a believer out of me!! Will talk to my doctor when I go back because Im on Blood pressure and Cholestriol medicine but I feel great!

  21. Diane permalink
    March 20, 2014

    Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar is a God send! Try this simple home remedy: Just 1 Tbsp in 8 oz of water taken before or with a meal to help your GI system. And using it is much less costly than a trip to see the doctor. Note: I am using Raw, organic, unfiltered and unpasteurized, Apple Cider Vinegar. The cloudy appearance is funny, but it works :)

  22. January 28, 2015

    My 10 year old son always complains of belly aches and has a BM every 3 days or so. Three years ago he was on 3 rounds of antibiotics in a 2 month period for strep that wouldn’t go away. Since then his digestive system has not been the same. I’ve recently had a stool test done on him and his butyric acid levels were off the charts low. When I give him ACV, his stomach pain instantly goes away, but it creates terrible, stinky gas. I thought it was interesting that ACV is butyric acid. I’ve stuck with ACV for 2 weeks before, but stopped b/c the gas wouldn’t go away. I’ve started back up with ACV as he’s had a belly ache for days now … terrible gas is back. Also from the stool test, his gut flora is exceptionally off balance. My question is … Any opinion on whether or not I should continue with ACV as a treatment?

  23. Sunney permalink
    February 12, 2015

    I’ve been experiencing severe abdominal pain over the last 2 months, onetime resulting in a trip to the ER where they told me I had kidney stones -though they couldn’t see any on the scans the did. I did my own research & learned about ACV (I use Braggs). I mix 2 tablespoons with a tablespoon of lime juice, a tablespoon of shredded ginger root, a little stevia & a quart of water. Shake it all up & drink. It’s been the only thing, including prescription pain relievers, that stops the intense pain. The concoction is called good girl moonshine & the taste is pleasant so it’s great to drink. I’ve seen variations using strawberries instead of lime & ginger but I like the lime.

  24. June 15, 2015

    I was looking for a way to help creat ph balance in my body after going through menopause. Well; I tried 2 tablespoons a day mixed with water and the results have been fantastic. My digestic system has improved. I usually drink the mixture after I eat and voila, no heartburn! I also find that my ph balance has improved. I am using it forever!! I feel it is an inexpensive and a healthy choice in helping to promote a better physical and mental well-being overall.

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