29 Surprising Uses and Health Benefits For Apple Cider Vinegar

Why is your friend telling you to drink shots of apple cider vinegar for weight loss? Learn why everyone is drinking it along with 29 obscure uses for apple cider vinegar. 

Apple cider vinegar is shown to lower blood sugar, help with weight loss, lower cholesterol, and improve diabetes symptoms. 

Apple cider vinegar purists use it as a cure all health remedy. They also use it to clean, disinfect, kill weeds, eliminate odours, improve indoor air quality, help with acne and even to prevent hair loss. 

Apple cider vinegar health benefits infographic

There are some outright shocking things that you can use it for.

Woah Connor, you just listed a lot of things. Are these all true? I’ll address each benefit and use below and let you know if each has merit for you to try.

But first, what exactly is apple cider vinegar? 

What is Apple Cider Vinegar?

Apple cider vinegar (or ACV) is a fermented beverage made from crushed apples. Adding yeast to this juice mixture turns the sugar (from the apples) into alcohol. This is how fermentation works. Bacteria (or the mother) then turns the alcohol into acetic acid. 

How Apple cider vinegar is made

Acetic acid is what gives vinegar it’s sour taste and smell. The bacteria also forms gut friendly probiotics.

The result is a fermented beverage with much less sugar and calories compared to apple juice or apple cider.

Historical Background

Apple cider vinegar’s history dates back thousands of years. Around 2500BC, the Aryans, an ancient nomadic tribe, made soured apple wine. The precursor of apple cider.

Historically, ACV was used to treat everything from toothache to mushroom poisoning. 

There’s records of Hippocrates prescribing ACV to clean wounds, detoxify, treat colds and varicose veins (1).

What’s the Difference Between Apple Cider and Apple Cider Vinegar?

Apple cider is made from fresh, crushed apples. It is then distilled into cider. Apple juice is made a similar way, but it is filtered, pasteurized and contains added ingredients to preserve the juice and make it taste better.

Apple cider vinegar is made from apple cider that is fermented using yeast to produce bacteria which converts the sugar to alcohol then acetic acid. 

How is Apple Cider Vinegar Different From White Vinegar or Lemon Juice?

Apple cider vinegar has some things in common with white vinegar and lemon juice. ACV is  not as acidic as white vinegar, meaning it is gentler. ACV also has more antibacterial benefits than lemon juice. 

Since it’s made from fermented apples, it also has trace vitamins: Vitamin C and potassium, while white vinegar does not.

Health Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar

I stuck to four benefits that have research to support the claims. You’ll see other information online about many more health benefits that have little to no research to support the claims. Be careful, it is the wild west out there.

1. Help With Weight Loss

apple cider vinegar for weightloss graph

Surprisingly, there are studies showing apple cider vinegar can help with weight loss. How? It seems to help you feel full, causing you to eat less and lose weight.

One study combined taking apple cider vinegar with a large meal. Those who took ACV ate less (200-275 calories) throughout the rest of the day (2). 

Another study showed reduced belly fat and weightloss in obese people who consumed apple cider vinegar (3). 

What about ACV makes you feel satiated? 

Most think the acetic acid, which is also found in sourdough, seems to delay gastric emptying (how fast your stomach processes food). Moreover, ACV has around 3 calories per tablespoon, practically nothing. 

It’s important to note that no single food will make you lose weight… and keep it off. Holistic lifestyle factors need to be addressed. 

2. Control Blood Sugar and Stabilize Insulin Levels

Apple cider vinegar blood sugar responseThe health benefit with the most research to back it up is apple cider vinegar’s ability to help with type 2 diabetes. 

Type 2 diabetes is characterized by high blood sugar levels due to an inability of the body to produce insulin. This is referred to as insulin resistance.

The best way to control blood sugar is to avoid highly processed foods high in refined sugar and carbohydrates. 

It turns out that apple cider vinegar also has a beneficial effect. Here’s what the research shows:

  • Taking ACV with a high carb meal improved insulin sensitivity by 19-34% and produced a lower blood sugar response (4). 
  • Taking 2 tbsp of ACV before bed lowers fasting blood sugar by 4% in the morning (5).
  • Vinegar taken with meals can improve blood sugar levels and insulin function (6).
  • Apple cider vinegar is not just for those suffering from type 2 diabetes. You may also benefit from taking a bit of ACV with your carb-centric meals.

    3. Contribute to Healthy Skin

    Since your skin is slightly acidic, using topical apple cider vinegar can help to improve your skin by rebalancing the pH level. 

    apple cider vinegar ph scale

    In fact, many use ACV to treat acne, dry skin and eczema. Here’s the thought process: alkaline soaps and health care products seem to contribute to dry skin and eczema. 

    ACV’s acid nature and potent antibacterial properties could, in theory, help to prevent dry skin and infections in the first place. 

    Many use diluted ACV in face washes or toners, however there is not strong research to support this. So your mileage may vary. 

    Read more: 7 Superfoods for Healthy Skin

    4. May Protect Your Heart

    High blood cholesterol makes your heart work harder in order to push blood through your body. This can lead to heart disease, one of the leading causes of death.

    Apple cider vinegar can protect your heart by lowering many risk factors in heart disease. ACV is shown to decrease high blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels in blood (7, 8, 9). 

    I’ll mention this is mostly animal research, so it may not be 100% applicable to humans. We will wait on more research. 

    29 Obscure Uses for Apple Cider Vinegar

    1. Makes Your Hair Shiny & Decreases Dandruff

    Hair has an ideal pH level of between 4 and 5. The problem is that many commercial shampoos may disrupt your hair’s pH.

    You can keep your scalp healthy and protect it from bacteria by using apple cider vinegar. It will help balance the pH level of your hair and scalp, regardless of your hair type. 

    Apple cider vinegar is especially great for curly hair. It won’t weigh down curls like silicone-based conditioners, letting your curls shine. 

    Rinse your hair using a bit of ACV in place of a conditioner. There are claims that ACV helps with hair loss. These are anecdotal, with no research to back them up. 

    2. Digestive Support

    Great health starts in your gut. ACV is a gut friendly probiotic which will help seed your gut with beneficial bacteria to help you properly digest and absorb food. It is a much more cost effective solution to kombucha or other fermented foods.

    There are countless benefits to a healthy gut including: controlling inflammation, increasing nutrient absorption and bolstering your immune system. 

    3. Help You Feel Full

    Some use apple cider vinegar as a weight loss strategy because of its ability to make you feel satiated and full. The research shows it may help you eat less (10). I should mention this won’t work long term unless you modify your lifestyle and diet. There is no magic bullet. 

    4. Facial Toner To Help Acne

    Help tighten skin and reduce breakouts by using a simple ACV facial toner. Try applying a tiny bit to your hairline for best results. Dilute one cup of vinegar to two cups of water. Add a drop of your favourite essential oil too.

    5. Sunburn Soother

    ACV for sunburn

    Apple cider vinegar makes for a great natural sunburn cure. Mix one cup of apple cider vinegar into your bath, sit back and soak. 

    6. Disinfectant / Cleaner

    Use it as a natural disinfectant and cleaner in your kitchen, living room and bathroom. Like white vinegar, ACV is tough on mold and bad smells. It works on most surfaces: including counters and windows. 

    Don’t use apple cider vinegar on carpets unless they are dark. 

    Dilute a half-cup of ACV with one cup of water, and get cleaning.

    7. Clean Your Washing Machine 

    Add two cups of vinegar as you would detergent and run the washing machine without clothes.

    8. Help With Seasonal Allergies

    The healthy bacteria in raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar can ward off seasonal allergies. It does this by helping the draining of your lymph nodes and improving immunity. Try 1 tbsp diluted in water with your morning meal next time you have seasonal allergies. If you have not used ACV before then check below for gradual dosage ideas.

    9. Sore Throat Tonic

    With potent antibacterial and antiviral properties, apple cider vinegar can be incredibly beneficial for sore throat. In a large mug of warm water, mix 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar with 2 tbsp of honey.

    10. Trap Fruit Flies

    Get rid of those pesky fruit flies by making an ACV fruit fly trap. Add ACV into a cup with a few drops of dish soap to put an end to the fruit fly madness in your kitchen.

    apple cider vinegar to treat warts

    11. Treat Warts

    Acetic acid in ACV kills some types of bacteria and viruses on contact. It can also burn the wart off your skin, causing it to fall off (11). 

    1. Mix 2 parts ACV in 1 part water. 
    2. Soak cotton ball in vinegar solution.
    3. Apply cotton-ball directly to wart.
    4. Cover and tape cotton-ball to wart overnight.
    5. Repeat every night until wart falls off.

    12. Extends Your Food’s Shelf life 

    The acid acts as the ultimate natural food preservative. This helps to extend shelf life of your favourite homemade foods, leading to less food waste. You can use apple cider vinegar to pickle your favourite vegetables like carrots, cauliflower, cucumbers and more. It also works to brush ACV on your avocado halves or apple slices to prevent browning. 

    13. Unclog Your Shower Drain

    Try pouring ½ cup baking soda down your drain followed by one cup of ACV. Let the mixture sit for 5 minutes then rinse drain well with hot water. 

    14. Air Freshener

    Naturally eliminate odours without chemicals by using ACV. Mix equal parts water and apple cider vinegar into a spray bottle. Then spritz your living room for a fresh, clean scent. The anti-bacterial qualities of ACV also improve air quality. Add essential oils to freshen up the scent.

    15. Flea Repellent For Your Pup

    Want to protect your pup? Me too. My dog Nitotem gets very itchy. Something I am trying is this recipe I found. Mix ¼ cup ACV with ¾ cup water into a spray bottle.
    This kills bacteria and also gives your dog a nice shiny coat. I am certainly not a vet so consult them first before trying this. 

    16. Boil The Perfect Egg

    The protein in egg whites firms up more quickly when exposed to acid. This helps your eggs keep their shape when being poached, soft or hard boiled. Get consistently better eggs with ACV.

    17. Garden Weed Killer

    Mix 1 part apple cider vinegar to 8 parts water into a spray bottle. Spray on weeds and you’ll watch them disappear within one week. Save time on weeding and your vegetables will thank you. 

    18. Fruit and Vegetable Wash

    Make an easy solution to wash your fresh fruits and veggies using apple cider vinegar. Mix 4 tbsp of ACV with 4 L water. Use this solution to rinse bacteria and pesticides off your produce. This is especially important if you are buying conventional produce. 

    19. Great for Salad Dressings

    Add 2 tbsp to any homemade salad dressing for a delicious taste and nutritional boost. You can substitute ACV for any other acid like lemon juice. Try this dairy free chia tahini dressing.

    20. Regulate Your Blood Sugar After Carb Heavy Meals

    Some people swear by consuming 1-2 tbsp of apple cider vinegar with carb heavy meals to help blunt the blood sugar response. There is research showing that ACV improves insulin sensitivity and stabilizes blood sugar in type 2 diabetics (12).

    21. Improve Circulation

    Research shows that apple cider vinegar can help with varicose veins. Simply apply small amounts of ACV to the area you have poor circulation and rub gently (13). 

    22. Refreshing Probiotic Drink

    Apple cider vinegar makes for a refreshing drink replacement for soda or even kombucha. Mix 1.5 tbsp ACV with 1 tbsp lime juice, some sweetener and 2 cups cold water for a delicious gut-friendly limeade. 

    23. Easy Marinade 

    Apple cider vinegar is a great addition to steak marinades because it gives a nice sweet and sour flavour. Combine with garlic, ginger and soy sauce for a simple marinade. Especially works great to remove the metallic taste from organ meats like beef liver or heart. 

    24. Help with Heartburn

    ACV can help normalize the acid levels in your stomach to help with acid reflux or heartburn. This prevents the backflow of acid up your throat. It is best to consume ACV with your meals for heartburn.

    25. Natural Cold Remedy 

    The acid in apple cider vinegar helps to thin out mucus in your throat. This gets the mucus moving out of your lungs and respiratory system. Loosening mucus and phlegm makes you feel better which can assist in a quicker recovery from colds. 

    ACV also boosts your immune system (due to the probiotics) and kills pathogens that make you sick in the first place. 

    The classic cold remedy with ACV:

    1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

    1 cup warm water

    1-2 tbsp raw honey

    26. Natural Deodorant 

    Because of the antibacterial and anti-viral properties of apple cider vinegar, it makes it great as a natural deodorant. Simply dab small amounts of ACV under your armpits to neutralize body odour.  

    27. Body Detox 

    Apple cider vinegar helps with lymphatic drainage, circulation and pH levels in your body. Basically, ACV gets things moving which can help with detoxification. 

    28. Add Flavour to Soup

    Sometimes soup is missing ‘something,’ but you can’t quite put your finger on it. Try adding some apple cider vinegar to bring out the other flavours in your soup.

    29. Fight Athlete’s Foot

    ACV can help in the treatment of fungal infections. The antifungal properties of ACV kill the fungus and prevent it from returning. 

    Make an antifungal balm by combining ACV along with raw honey. Dab some of the mixture on the area and let sit for 10-20 minutes before washing off. Other people have success soaking their feet in ACV mixed with warm water for 10-20 minutes daily. 

    What Type of Apple Cider Vinegar Should You Use?

    There are many types of apple cider vinegar. Decoding them can be difficult. You’ll see terms like organic and raw used liberally, making it hard to figure out which is best for you.

    To unlock all of the health benefits, you should look for a raw, unfiltered and organic apple cider vinegar.

    Let’s break down what each of these mean.

    Raw Apple Cider Vinegar

    Raw means it is minimally processed and not heated. Heat is a means of preserving foods and liquids. The problem is that it kills off beneficial bacteria like probiotics, vitamins and minerals.

    Raw ACV will have parts of the ‘mother’ still in the bottle or jug. The ‘mother’ is used to ferment and make the ACV. It is a cloudy, gelatinous mixture or enzymes and proteins. Don’t be scared if there are chunks in your apple cider vinegar. Simply strain them out before you use it.

    Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar

    Filtering removes some of the remnants of the ‘mother’ along with bacteria sediments. These will limit the health benefits of your ACV. Opt for unfiltered. 

    Organic Apple Cider Vinegar 

    Organic ACV is free from pesticides and chemical additives during the whole lifecycle of the apples to the ACV. This means the farms the apple comes from is pesticide and glyphosate free. It also generally means higher quality. Look for the certified organic logo. 

    Dosage of Apple Cider Vinegar

    When getting started with apple cider vinegar, it is best to start conservative. 1 tsp diluted into one cup of water is a good starting dose per day. It is best to take ACV with a meal.

    From here you can adjust based on how you feel. Pay attention to your stomach in particular. Some people get an acidic feeling after consuming ACV. 

    Research shows that you can consume up to 2 tbsp diluted in water per day. Please consult your healthcare professional before experimenting with apple cider vinegar.

    Are There Any Risks With Apple Cider Vinegar?

    ACV purists will use it in everything. Despite it being generally safe, there are some risks if you drink a lot of apple cider vinegar.

    What are they?

    The most common side-effects are a burning feeling in your tongue, throat or stomach (14). You can usually combat this by starting with a low dose and diluting your ACV with water. Also best to have it before or with a meal. 

    Will Apple Cider Vinegar Harm my Teeth?

    There is enough acid in undiluted apple cider vinegar to weaken the enamel on your teeth. Weakened enamel makes you more vulnerable to cavities, sensitive teeth and tooth decay (15). 

    For this reason you need to always dilute your ACV. Also never use apple cider vinegar as mouthwash. 

    ACV Combined with Blood Sugar Drugs

    Consult your primary care doctor before taking apple cider vinegar with any medications that control your blood sugar.

    Since ACV can help to lower blood sugar, you may need to modify your dose or risk low blood sugar. 

    Bone Health

    There is one case study where the participant consumed very large amounts (250 ml / day for 6 years) of apple cider vinegar. This can result in a loss of potassium in your bones. Over time, incredibly large amounts of acid basically leaches potassium from your bones, decreasing bone turnover and leading to osteoporosis (16).

    Bottom Line

    It’s amazing how many uses there are for apple cider vinegar, from your bathroom to your kitchen to your garden. 

    Apple cider vinegar also has many exciting health benefits from controlling blood sugar and blood pressure to assisting in weight loss. 

    I think it has its place in your pantry. I mostly use it in cooking / salad dressings and never drink it diluted or by the teaspoon. It is best to experiment for yourself.

    If you want to incorporate ACV into your daily routine then please start out conservatively.

    With that I ask you: what is your most obscure use for apple cider vinegar? Leave a comment and let me know.


    Disclaimer: This information is for educational purposes only and has not been evaluated by the CFIA or FDA. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. 

    Image via bowlfordiabetes.ca
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    Image viaostomylifestyle.org
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