Apple cider vinegar for acid reflux

Apple cider vinegar
Kyle's picture
by Kyle May 1, 2013

Apple cider vinegar is one of the most popular natural remedies for acid reflux, but does it work? Here's what you need to know if you decide to give it a try.

When it comes to curing ailments, it seems like everyone is in search of a home remedy that nixes the need for medication, including using apple cider vinegar for acid reflux.

Wait, apple cider vinegar for acid reflux?

This just doesn’t compute. How can an item that’s so acidic (and it is highly acidic) possibly help one’s acid reflux symptoms? After all, acidic foods are usually on the no-no list for people with heartburn. So, how can drinking apple cider vinegar be one of the natural remedies for acid reflux?

Well, let’s get this out of the way first. There isn’t any medical research published to support the use apple cider vinegar for acid reflux, so all we have are theories. And, as always, check with your doctor before trying any natural remedies for acid reflux.

How does apple cider vinegar for acid reflux work?

Okay, now that we’ve stressed that all this is hearsay, let’s discuss a few of the theories about why it might work. Some believe the acidic nature of the vinegar aids digestion by helping break down fats.

Others think that the acid helps balance acid production in the stomach or that it might help buffer the acidity level in the stomach because acetic acid (the main component of apple cider vinegar) is a weaker acid than hydrochloric acid (the acid produced by your stomach). Regardless of how it works, many people swear by apple cider vinegar’s effectiveness and have deemed it one of the best natural remedies for acid reflux.

How to take apple cider vinegar for acid reflux                                          

Okay, so you’re intrigued enough to try this remedy. How should you take it? The most common recommendation is to mix one teaspoon to two tablespoons with eight ounces of water and drink before meals or when heartburn strikes. Some even suggest taking it on its own. You may have to experiment a little to find the dose that works for you.

Learn more: An alternative treatment approach to GERD

Making Apple Cider More Palatable

Apple cider vinegar isn’t the best tasting thing on the planet. If drinking it solo or even diluted in water just isn’t working for you, try mixing in a bit of honey. That might help it go down a bit easier. You can also try mixing it with salad dressing, adding it to a smoothie or other drink, or cooking with it.

The Best Apple Cider Vinegar for Acid Reflux

Many people recommend using organic, raw unpasteurized apple cider vinegar because it retains the natural enzymes that are lost during pasteurization. It’s usually easier to find it in health food stores than typical grocery stores.

Learn more: Natural remedies for acid reflux: Does licorice work?

Possible Side Effects

While many believe apple cider vinegar helps acid reflux, there are some side effects to watch out for.

1. It can damage your tooth enamel.

Apple cider vinegar is highly acidic, which can harm your teeth. Drinking it with a straw can help keep it away from your pearly whites. Don’t forget to rinse out your mouth after taking it.

2. It may interact with prescription medications.

Apple cider vinegar is suspected to negatively interact with:

  • Diuretics
  • Laxatives
  • Heart disease medication
  • Diabetes drugs

3. It can worsen ulcers.

If you have an ulcer, definitely skip using apple cider vinegar for acid reflux, which may cause your belly even more aggravation.  

The Bottom Line Is This: Natural remedies don’t have a whole lot of research to back up their results, but many people swear by apple cider vinegar as a cure for their heartburn. If you want to try it, check with your doctor first.

Reviewed by: Dr. Dengler, RefluxMD Medical Director

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Total votes: 1353

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janegregory's picture
Total votes: 663
Thanks for the tips Dr Denger. There have always been mixed reviews regarding apple cider vinegar as you said but the positive aspect is that there are no side effects resulting from using apple cider vinegar. So one can definitely continue to use it.
eliza07's picture
Total votes: 389
Yes I agree with you jane. Natural methods are always better as it has no side effects. However if the problem is very severe then the natural methods won't help in some cases. I heard that acupuncture helps in treatment of acid reflux.
agentgyrl's picture
Total votes: 339
I can attest to the efficacy of apple cider vinegar for reflux. I used to take various combinations of omeprazole, ranitidine, famotidine, Gaviscon, and Tums to keep my reflux at bay. At some point on any given day I had to take at least one of these. Now, at first sign (usually about 15 minutes after eating), I take 1-2 tsp of vinegar (I currently use unpasturized and unfiltered) in about 2 ounces of water. I am careful to keep it off my teeth as much as possible and to rinse with and drink fresh water after. This has truly worked. I no longer take any of those meds. On the rare occasion, I will have 2 Tums before bed. All you need to do is try it to see if it works for you like it does for both my husband and I.
Bruce Kaechele's picture
Total votes: 326
Thank you for your comment and your endorsement of ACV. I will post this up on our Facebook page - I asked for experience using ACV earlier this week. Much appreciated and thank you for being a member.
demaisra's picture
Total votes: 172
Why not be even healthier, Instead of Honey I use half the amount of agave since the sugars break down better in your body.
Bruce Kaechele's picture
Total votes: 156
Excellent comment Demaisra. Home remedies work for some, but not for everyone. We encourage everyone to try several and see what works best.
cmills's picture
Total votes: 148
I read a few articles that said acid reflux is caused by not having enough acid in your stomach and that's why the ACV helps because it adds acid to your stomach. I did try it and it did help me a lot more than the meds I was taking. I found I could only tolerate about a 1/8 to a 1/4 teaspoon in a 1/4 of a glass of water at a time. I did some more digging and tried DigestZen by Doeterra which is an essential oil and that has been a big success for me.
Bruce Kaechele's picture
Total votes: 129
Thank you for providing us that information! Bruce at RefluxMD
R2d2aj's picture
Total votes: 63
I have been trying this for a month. I stopped the PPI cold turkey and tried apple cider vinegar. I started twice a day after lunch & before bed. After 5 days I had no heart burn. I was drinking mainly water and milk. No soda at all. 2 weeks later I had a root beer which I thought was caffeine free. My reflux came back a day later. I kept on with acv. I had to take tums as well for a few nights. Another 2 weeks later to now, my diet is the same and my reflux is persisting. I have to prop myself up at night & I've tried upping the acv dose to 3 times a day. I have not gotten much relief. Can anyone enlighten me on what is going on? Should I up the dose of acv, cut back or try another approach? I appreciate any help! Thanks!
Bruce Kaechele's picture
Total votes: 39
Thank you for your comments. Since you had completed the GERD Stage Guage I used that information to form a reply and used our internal messaging symptom to send it to you. I hope that this helps. Bruce