Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)-Does it actually do anything?

“One might think that fresh lemons and limes and raw organic apple cider vinegar are acidic, but they actually become alkaline when consumed.”

What a non-sensical claim! Before I get into the details of this, I’d like to say that after spending almost 12hours looking at material online regarding apple cider vinegar (ACV), I haven’t found any shred of evidence to show of it’s 20+ health benefits.

origins

ACV is basically apple pulped up, placed into wooden barrels and allowed to ferment. Much like the process of making wine, alochol is formed by this process. ACV however requires one further fermentation cycle to then produce the acetic acid aka “vinegar.” In fact, vinegar is French for “wine gone sour.”

 

Cider-making process in France.png

Microorganisms in Fermented Apple Beverages: Current Knowledge and Future Directions by Fabien J. Cousin and others.

Now before anyone gets upset, I’ll state clearly that a lack of evidence does not equate a lack of effect. A lot of drugs lack evidence for their effects/side effects until years down the track. In the case of the humble ACV, it’s been around since ancient Egypt times-analysis of urns have revealed traces of acetic acid. Ironically, anything left for that long would go “off” (ferment).

Now the purported benefits of ACV range from the mundane to the fantastical: antibacterial, reduces blood pressure, antioxidant, reduce sugar levels in diabetics, reduce cholesterol, improve brain function, relieve acid reflux, treat warts, treat cancer, treat bad breath, treat gout, treat urinary tract infections, and of course treat head lice.

 

Basically summarised, it can detox, help digest, and improve your energy levels. But does it really?

Rather than repeat what other reputable sources already mentioned on this topic, I will simply provide a summary of it below and provide links to a few reputable sources of information (see below).

 

Stated Health Claim Believable or Not?
Antibacterial Believable: acetic acid at concentration of 3% have been tested. Household vinegar is typically 5% (1)
Reduce blood pressure No studies found
Antioxidant Perhaps: like most plants, there exists phytochemicals (aka bioactive substances) that may defend against free radicals. There are thousands of these in nature and we can’t be sure which is what
Reduce diabetes Unlikely: there was a study on 30 people (FYI a good study requires thousands of people to have enough power). Ten were diabetes, ten were non-diabetics, and ten were pre-diabetic. After about a month of ACV, there fasting sugar levels were slightly lower.  These sorts of studies are too small for drawing conclusions. They also don’t look at factors like participants changed diets whilst in the program. (2)
Brain function No studies found
Acid reflux No large studies done. One was a doctoral thesis project consisting of a handful of volunteers with no conclusive answer.
Warts No studies found. Warning: chemical burns can occur with even standard 5% ACV despite being a weak acid. See images below.
Arthritis No human studies found. One study on arthritis-induced rats showed no effect. Link below
Antifungal One study on denture-associated candida showed it had some effect
Antidandruff Folk remedy but otherwise no studies found
Probiotic Whilst there does exist plenty of probiotics in ACV, there were no human studies on the benefits.

Studies in carp fish show that using ACV in combination with other probiotics may boost the immune system. Whether this relates to humans is unknown.

Helicobacter pylori Studies show that taking ACV with triple-therapy did not show benefit towards H. pylori eradication

What’s my take on it? Drink it for it’s likely beneficial probiotic effects. Always dilute it with a glass of water-add honey to taste. Ignore all the other “benefits.”

 

References

  1. Antibacterial effects of ACV
  2. Vinegar improves insulin
  3. Mother Earth-make your own ACV
  4. superFoodly’s analysis of ACV
  5. Dr Mercola’s analysis of ACV
  6. Science behind why pH won’t budge
  7. Fish fed ACV+probiotics
  8. Helicobacter pylori eradication with ACV
  9. Probiotics in ACV

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