Phytomedicine in my Kitchen - Apple Cider Vinegar

Updated: Oct 16, 2019

Several years ago, a friend and I were reading through a book on “The Health Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar”, and we concluded that Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) must be better than breast milk itself! Although we were joking, I couldn’t help but to be impressed by the purported benefits of ACV.

Since then I have lived through various fads and brand launches involving ACV and it’s been exciting for me to sift through research and see which health benefits are valid.

One of the flaws in research related to ACV is that it is predominantly based on in vitro or rat-based studies. It took quite a lot of digging to find clinical trials with statistical significance. Here is a little on what I found, and it is by no means a reflection of all the research out there. However, I hope to validate some uses and dispel some myths.

Weight loss

There is no proof that ACV helps with weight loss. It is important to note that the clinical trial that suggested this benefit was based on individuals who were already in a daily calorie deficit (Solaleh Sadat Khezri et al. 2018). So, ACV is not a magic cure for weight loss, however, it may be a beneficial adjunct.

Diabetes Type 1 and 2

There are various ways in which ACV is reported to be helpful for diabetes. They include (but are not limited to) delayed gastric emptying, an enhanced glucose uptake and conversion to glycogen in the periphery and increased levels of satiety.

Various studies have found that consuming ACV before a meal delays gastric emptying. When food stays in your stomach for longer periods it prolongs the time it takes for glucose to be digested and to enter the blood stream. This contributes to a lower Glycaemic Load. This can be beneficial for those with metabolic syndrome or type 2 diabetes. According to Hlebowicz J et al., however, this may not be beneficial in those with Diabetes Type 1. It was found that ACV prolonged gastric emptying too much in those with DM1 and this was not beneficial for Glycaemic control.

Another study looked into glucose uptake in the forearm muscle of humans with DM2. It was shown that, after the consumption of vinegar, there was an increase in glucose uptake by skeletal muscle cells. This demonstrates an improvement in insulin action, which is important for those with DM2 or insulin resistance.

Whether or not ACV increases your level of satiety (feeling full) is up for debate. According to Frost et al., acetate (the primary acid found in ACV), may have a direct role in central appetite regulation. However, Darzi J et al., suggests that the reason your appetite is reduced is due to nausea. They conclude that suggesting ACV to reduce hunger is not a responsible practice. Furthermore, in her experiment, L Bollinger found that hunger satiety scores were not significantly greater with vinegar when compared to hunger satiety scores without vinegar. And so, this mode of action does not seem positive.

On a positive note, a study which investigated the effect acetic acid had on HbA1c in type 2 diabetics, found that Hb1Ac values fell by 0.16% units over the course of the 12-week trial, compared with controls who did not ingest any vinegar, where HbA1c levels rose by 0.06%.


According to Zahra Beheshti et al., consumption of apple cider vinegar over an 8 week period had a beneficial effect in significant reductions in harmful blood lipids and is recommended as a simple and cost-effective treatment for hyperlipidemia. However, most other research related to ACV and Hyperlipidaemia was conducted on rats. As Petsioua et al., say " Although some evidence supports the use of vinegar as a complementary treatment in patients with glucose and lipid abnormalities, further large-scale long-term trials with impeccable methodology are warranted before definitive health claims can be made."


Although there is no literature on the use of ACV for dandruff, many dermatologists recommend it. The thought is that ACV clears dead skin and balances the pH of the scalp so that the malassezia yeast cannot grow. If you’d like to try a vinegar hair rinse recipe, click here.

The Composition of Apple Cider Vinegar

When buying apple cider vinegar, you want to make sure that it is unfiltered. This is often referred to as having the 'mother' inside still. Although the sentiment sounds strange, all it means is that there are still some of the bacterial strains left in the vinegar. These bacterial strains contribute to ACV's effect as a digestive tonic (much like kombucha) but are not strong enough to qualify ACV as a probiotic food.

Apple cider contains organic acids (a high proportion of Aetic Acid), flavonoids, polyphenols, vitamins, and minerals. These include; pectin; vitamins B1, B2, and B6; biotin; folic acid; niacin; pantothenic acid; and vitamin C. It also contains small amounts of the sodium, phosphorous, potassium, calcium, iron, and magnesium. It is important to note that the doses are not high enough to make ACV a supplement. Rather, it adds to your diet through micro-dosing.

How to use

I advise to start off slowly when it comes to ACV. Start at 1 teaspoon in 100ml water and work your way up from there. If you would like to use it regularly, drink ACV through a straw. Otherwise, add a healthy dose of Four Thieves Vinegar to your favourite dishes (recipe to come this month).


As I mentioned previously, ACV should be drunk through a straw. This is because the acetic acid wears the enamel of the teeth away.

Use with caution if you have diabetes type 1.

Although some websites will say that ACV lowers your potassium, it is important to note that this occurred in one instance where a woman was drinking 250ml of ACV a day. Stick to a balanced dose and you wont have this problem (and many others!).


ACV has been praised for many health benefits. However, researchers have found mixed results. In my opinion, ACV may be helpful for Insulin resistance and as a preventative for high cholesterol. In small doses it may also be a digestive tonic. However, it is important to not view ACV as a cure-all or as a magic potion for weight loss. If you would like to add ACV to your regime, make sure you listen to your body annd adjust the dose accordingly.

This article was written for educational purposes only and is not intended to cure or diagnose the audience.


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