Apple cider vinegar is right up there with aloe vera, high on the list of the most versatile and effective ingredients for home remedies. For heartburn sufferers, apple cider vinegar can be very beneficial.
Almost everyone will experience heartburn at some point in their lives. Heartburn feels like a burning sensation in the chest and is often accompanied by a bitter taste in the throat or mouth. It is often a symptom of acid reflux.
The burning sensation is caused by acidic stomach juices rising into the esophagus when the valve between the esophagus and stomach does not close properly.
Under normal circumstances, when you swallow, this valve (a band of muscle around the bottom of your esophagus) relaxes, allowing food and liquid to flow down into your stomach. Then the muscle tightens again, thus preventing stomach acid from flowing back up into your esophagus.
Apart from the burning sensation in the chest, other related symptoms may include gas, nausea, bloating and difficulty breathing. The symptoms usually get worse after eating a large meal or while lying down.
There are certain foods and drinks that can trigger heartburn in some people. Common triggers include spicy foods, onions, citrus products, tomato products, fatty or fried foods, peppermint, chocolate, alcohol, carbonated beverages and caffeinated beverages.
Also, being overweight or pregnant can increase your risk of experiencing heartburn.
A 2011 study published in the World Journal of Gastroenterology reports that heartburn is a common and chronic condition and people with a body mass index (BMI) less than or higher than normal weight are more likely to experience heartburn (1).
Heartburn has a great impact on daily activities, sleep and quality of life. According to the Gastroenterology Clinics of North America, heartburn affects more than 60 million Americans every month and 60 percent choose to take over-the-counter medication rather than consulting their physician (2).
But instead of over-the-counter medications, you can use apple cider vinegar to get quick relief from heartburn.
What is Apple Cider Vinegar?
Apple cider vinegar is the most popular type of vinegar available today.
It is made in a two-step process, related to how alcohol is made. In the first step, crushed apples are exposed to yeast, which ferment the sugars and turn them into alcohol. In the second step, bacteria are added to the alcohol solution, which helps ferment the alcohol and turn it into acetic acid.
Acetic acid is one of the main active compounds in apple cider vinegar and is responsible for many of its health benefits.
A 2014 study published in the Journal of Food Science reports that therapeutic effects of vinegar arise from consuming the inherent bioactive components. Specifically, acetic acid, gallic acid, catechin, ephicatechin, chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid, p-coumaric acid and ferulic acid cause antioxidative, antidiabetic, antimicrobial, antitumor, anti-obesity, antihypertensive and cholesterol-lowering responses (3).
Organic, unfiltered apple cider vinegar contains the “mother,” strands of proteins, enzymes and friendly bacteria that give the product a murky appearance. It is the “mother” that makes apple cider vinegar very healthy.
It can help accelerate weight loss, reduce cholesterol, lower blood sugar levels and improve symptoms of diabetes. It is also good for heartburn.
How Does Apple Cider Vinegar Aid in Treating Heartburn?
A 2016 study by Arizona State University graduate students found that raw or unfiltered apple cider vinegar can prevent heartburn. But more research is needed to determine whether apple cider vinegar is a consistent and reputable way to treat acid reflux (4).
The acetic acid found in apple cider vinegar can provide relief from heartburn.
Sometimes, the stomach may not have enough acid or you may eat foods low in acidity, resulting in heartburn. The acetic acid in apple cider vinegar is a weaker acid than the hydrochloric acid naturally found in the stomach, and this acetic acid helps lower stomach acidity without compromising digestion.
Apple cider vinegar also improves the tone of the lower esophageal sphincter. A weak sphincter would let stomach acids pass into the esophagus.
Also, though acidic in nature, apple cider vinegar has an alkalizing effect in your body, which is important for proper digestion. Plus, it contains pectin, which is a water-soluble fiber that helps regulate bowel movements. A healthy digestive system can prevent digestive problems like indigestion, gas, bloating, stomach aches and heartburn.
Apple cider vinegar also controls weight gain, which is one of the risk factors for heartburn. The acetic acid in it prevents the accumulation of body fat. Also, it may activate certain genes involved in breaking down fats.
It helps boost your metabolism rate, allowing you to burn calories more efficiently. A 2006 study published in Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications reports that acetic acid boosts the levels of an enzyme that increases how fast fat is burned in the body. Acetic acid also cuts the amount of fat and sugar that the liver makes (5).
Apart from boosting your metabolism, apple cider vinegar also curbs fat storage.
A 2009 study published in Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry found vinegar intake reduces body weight, body fat mass and serum triglyceride levels in obese people. In conclusion, daily intake of vinegar might be useful in the prevention of metabolic syndrome by reducing obesity (6).
It also suppresses appetite and prevents you from overeating, which can trigger heartburn.
A 2014 study published in Nature Communications suggests that acetic acid helps suppress centers in the brain that control appetite, which can lead to reduced food intake (7).
How Do I Use Apple Cider Vinegar to Treat Heartburn?
Apple cider vinegar is generally considered safe for people suffering from heartburn. But you must always use raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar to reap the benefits.
1. Mix 1 tablespoon of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar into a glass of warm water.
2. Optionally, you can add some raw honey.
3. Drink it before each meal to prevent heartburn.
You can also add it to your salad as a dressing, add it to a drink or a shake, or just cook with it.
- Some people may experience side effects after consuming apple cider vinegar. Side effects may include tooth erosion, blood thinning, throat irritation and a decreased potassium level in the body.
- Apple cider vinegar may interact with certain medications, including diuretics, laxatives and heart disease medications.
- Avoid taking apple cider vinegar if you have an ulcer, as it can aggravate your symptoms.
Additional Tips for Preventing Heartburn
- Maintain a healthy weight, as extra weight puts pressure on your abdomen, pushing up your stomach and causing acid to back up into your esophagus.
- Do not wear tight-fitting clothes, as they can put pressure on your abdomen and the lower esophageal sphincter.
- Avoid foods that trigger your heartburn.
- Avoid lying down after a meal. This is why you should try to have dinner early, at least two hours before your bedtime.
- Elevate the head of your bed if you regularly experience heartburn at night or while trying to sleep.
- Avoid smoking and drinking alcohol. Both can reduce the lower esophageal sphincter’s ability to function properly.
- Rather than two or three large meals, eat smaller meals more frequently to ease the impact on your digestive system.
- Natural history of heartburn: A 10-year population-based study. World Journal of Gastroenterology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3040336. Published February 07, 2011.
- The medical management of reflux esophagitis. Role of antacids and acid inhibition. Gastroenterology Clinics of North America. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1977703. Published September 1990.
- Functional properties of vinegar. Journal of Food Science. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24811350. Published May 2014.
- Is Apple Cider Vinegar Effective for Reducing Heartburn Symptoms Related to Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease? Arizona State University. https://repository.asu.edu/attachments/166181/content/Yeh_asu_0010N_15671.pdf.
- Acetic acid activates hepatic AMPK and reduces hyperglycemia in diabetic KK-A(y) mice. Biophysical Research Communications. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16630552. Published June 02, 2006.
- Vinegar intake reduces body weight, body fat mass, and serum triglyceride levels in obese Japanese subjects. Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19661687. Published August 2009.
- The short-chain fatty acid acetate reduces appetite via a central homeostatic mechanism. Nature Communications. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24781306. Published April 29, 2014.