Apple cider vinegar (ACV)—made by fermenting apple cider or the unfiltered juice from pressed apples—is a popular home remedy. Over the millennia, it has been used to treat everything from arthritis, constipation and nausea to headaches and acne. Although some uses are no more than old wives tales, many now have proven benefits, backed by scientific evidence. Here are six research-supported reasons to keep ACV on hand for your health:
1. ACV Helps Lower Blood Sugar Levels and Improves Insulin Sensitivity
Of the 100 million adults in the U.S. who have diabetes, 90 to 95 percent have Type 2 Diabetes, meaning they have trouble producing insulin or have insulin resistance. Vinegar has been scientifically shown to improve insulin function and lower blood sugar levels. In a study reported in Diabetes Care, participants who took two tablespoons of ACV before bedtime had a four percent reduction in fasting blood sugar levels. If you are taking any blood sugar lowering medicine, be sure to check with your doctor first before using ACV.
2. ACV Can Help You Lose Weight
A small study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that acetic acid, the main component in vinegar, improves satiety and can help you eat less. When participants consumed vinegar with a high carb meal, they ate 200-275 fewer calories. And a three-month Japanese study found that ACV may also be helpful in supporting weight loss. In the study, participants were divided into three groups: one group drank 1 tablespoon of ACV daily, a second group drank 2 tablespoons of AVC daily, and the third control group drank no ACV. The researchers found that body weight, BMI, visceral fat area, and waist circumference were significantly lower in the groups drinking ACV than in the placebo group.
3. ACV May Lower Cholesterol and Improve Heart Health
One Harvard observational study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that when women ate salad with an oil and vinegar dressing it reduced their risk of arrhythmia or irregular heartbeat, likely thanks to the alpha-linoleic acid it contains. And animal studies have revealed that vinegar can lower cholesterol, triglycerides and other heart disease risk factors, such as blood pressure.
4. ACV Has Anti-Bacterial and Anti-Fungal Properties
In France, where the word vinegar means “sour wine,” vinegar is known for it’s ability to kill bacteria and viruses. A study published in the Journal of Food Protection noted that when strawberries were cleaned with a 10 percent vinegar solution it reduced the amount of bacteria by 90 percent and viruses by 95 percent. ACV can even be used as a food preservative because it stops bacteria like E. Coli from forming, according to research published in the medical journal Scientific Reports. And as a traditional home remedy, ACV is often used to treat ear infections, nail fungus, lice and warts. Even Hippocrates, over two thousand years ago, used ACV with honey to heal infections and protect open wounds.
5. ACV Eliminates the Specific Bacteria—Propionibacterium acnes or P. acnes—That Causes Acne
Studies show that apple cider vinegar contains organic acetic, citric, lactic and succinic acids, all of which kill P. acne bacteria. Because it is highly acidic, be sure to only use small amounts of ACV on your skin and always dilute it with water. If you have oily or acne-prone skin, try making this toner to bring the pH level of your skin back to normal.
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup brewed green tea
- 5 drops of lavender
Combine ingredients and apply with a cotton ball. You can refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.
6. ACV Makes Your Hair Shiny and Healthy Looking
Applying a rinse made with ACV can detangle hair, as well as remove product build-up, leaving your hair soft and shiny. In addition to being anti-bacterial and anti-fungal, ACV is also anti-inflammatory and contains alpha-hydroxy acids and acetic acid that increase blood flow plus stimulate the scalp and the sebaceous glands to get rid of bacteria and debris. ACV also balances the hair and scalp’s pH. Try this recipe for an ACV hair rinse:
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 cup green tea
- 5 drops of essential oil: myrrh or peppermint (dry hair); clary sage or lavender oil (all hair types); lemon, lemongrass or tea tree oil (oily hair); eucalyptus (dandruff)
Combine and mix ingredients in a spray bottle and shake before each use. After shampooing and rinsing, spray the mixture into your hair. Run your fingers through it to really work it in. Let the mixture sit on hair for a couple minutes before rinsing it out.
Chrystle Fiedler is the author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Natural Remedies and co-author with Vegan Beauty Review founder Sunny Sumbranian of The Compassionate Chick’s Guide to DIY Beauty.