Although everyone knows about the healing properties of apple cider vinegar, it seems that no one is aware of the side effects which may be caused by this natural tonic in some specific cases. For that reason, this article will help you learn more about the potential side effects of ACV and will also give you few tips on how to consume it safely.
What Is Apple Cider Vinegar?
Apple cider vinegar is a combination of apples and yeast which contains 5-6 percent of acetic acid. Even though it is classified as a “weak acid”, ACV has strong acidic properties when it is concentrated. Besides acetic acid, ACV also contains water and trace amount of other acids, minerals, and vitamins.
Many recent animal and human studies have shown that ACV promotes weight loss, reduces blood sugar levels, increases insulin sensitivity, and normalizes cholesterol levels.
The 7 Possible Side Effects of Apple Cider Vinegar
But, unfortunately, ACV can sometimes cause some side effects, especially when consumed in high doses.
- Delayed Stomach Emptying
ACV prevents blood sugar spikes by reducing the rate at which food leaves the stomach and enters the lower digestive tract. In this way, it slows down its absorption into the bloodstream .
But, this effect of ACV may worsen the symptoms of gastroparesis, which is a common digestive disorder in people who suffer from type 1 diabetes. In gastroparesis, the food stays in the stomach for too long and is not emptied at a normal rate because the stomach nerves don’t work properly. Some of the symptoms of this condition include nausea, bloating, and heartburn.
For type 1 diabetics who suffer from gastroparesis, timing insulin with meals is very difficult because there is no way to determine how long it will take food to be digested and absorbed. This makes the blood sugar control more difficult for everyone who has type 1 diabetes.
One recent study has confirmed these already proven facts. Namely, 10 patients with type 1 diabetes and gastroparesis who drank a glass of water containing 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of ACV for one week before breakfast have experienced significantly delayed gastric emptying, compared to the previous week, when they only drank plain water (9).
- Digestive Side Effects
Many studies have shown that apple cider vinegar and acetic acid have the ability to reduce appetite and increase the feeling of fullness, leading to a reduction of calorie intake
However, one recent controlled study suggests that sometimes, the appetite and food intake may reduce as a result of indigestion. Namely, people who consumed a drink containing 25 grams (0.88 oz.) of ACV reported not only a reduction of appetite but also significantly greater feelings of nausea, especially in cases when apple cider vinegar was part of a drink with bad flavor (13).
- Low Potassium Levels and Bone Loss
Even though there are no controlled studies on apple cider vinegar’s effects on both blood potassium levels and bone health, we have recently witnessed a case report of low blood potassium and bone loss that was attributed to regular consumption of high doses of apple cider vinegar during a longer period of time.
A 28-year-old woman who had consumed 8 oz. (250 ml) of apple cider vinegar diluted in water on a daily basis for six years was hospitalized due to low levels of potassium and other abnormalities in blood chemistry. In addition to this, the young lady was also diagnosed with osteoporosis, a condition of brittle bones that is rarely seen in people at that age.
The doctors that were responsible for her treatment believe that the high doses of ACV led to minerals being leached from her bones to buffer the acidity of her blood. They also added that high acid levels can significantly reduce the formation of new bone.
Note that this is a specific case because the doses of apple cider vinegar are much higher when compared to the amounts of ACV which most people usually consume on a daily basis (plus – she did this every day for 6 years).
- Erosion of Tooth Enamel
Some studies even suggest that acetic acid in vinegar can also damage tooth enamel.
In one of these studies, enamel from wisdom teeth was immersed in different kinds of vinegar with pH levels ranging from 2.7–3.95. The results have shown that the teeth lost between 1–20% of their mineral content after only four hours .
Note that this study was done in a lab and not in the mouth, where saliva helps buffer acidity. But still, the evidence shows that high amounts of vinegar can cause dental erosion.
A case study also concluded that daily consumption of one cup (237 ml) of undiluted apple cider vinegar has caused severe dental decay in a 15-year-old .
- Throat Burns
Apple cider vinegar may also cause esophageal (throat) burns. According to a recent analysis of harmful liquids that were accidentally swallowed by children, the acetic acid found in vinegar is the most common acid which causes throat burns. For that reason, the researchers have recommended vinegar to be considered as a “potent caustic substance” .
Note that there are no published cases of throat burns caused apple cider vinegar itself.
But, one case report has shown that ACV tablet caused burns after becoming lodged in a woman’s throat. She said that she experienced pain and difficulties during swallowing for six months after the incident .
- Skin Burns
ACV may also cause burns when applied directly to the skin due to its acidic nature. In one such case, a 14-year-old girl developed erosions on her nose after applying several drops of ACV to remove two moles . Additionally, a 6-year-old boy developed leg burns after his mother treated his leg infection using ACV.
- Drug Interactions
There are some medications that may interact with ACV:
- Certain diuretic medications cause the body to excrete potassium. So, you should avoid consuming vinegar during diuretic therapy with to prevent potassium levels from dropping too low.
- Diabetes medication – people who take insulin or insulin-stimulating medications and vinegar are very likely to experience very low blood sugar or potassium levels.
- Digoxin is a medication which significantly reduces potassium levels in the blood. If you take it in combination with ACV, your potassium levels may become dangerously low.
How to Consume Apple Cider Vinegar Safely?
Everyone can safely consume moderate amounts of ACV by following these simple tips:
- Limit your intake: Start with a smaller amount and gradually increase it to a maximum of 2 tablespoons (30 ml) daily.
- Minimize the exposure of your teeth to acetic acid: Dilute ACV in a glass of water and drink it through a straw.
- Rinse your mouth: Rinse with water after drinking ACV and wait at least 30 minutes before brushing your teeth to prevent further enamel damage.
- Do not consume ACV if you suffer from gastroparesis
- Be aware of allergies: Be aware of allergies: Allergies caused by ACV are very rare but stop consuming it immediately if you notice an allergic reaction.