Bragg cider vinegar bottles

Exposing The Scam: Health Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar

[toc]How many superfoods can you think of that have a cult following as big as this?

Perhaps some, but none have maintain such popularity for decades on end.

That’s because many trendy health foods are based on nothing but hype, and hence, eventually that wears off.

Is it any different with Bragg? Should you take daily ACV capsules?

There’s no shortage of purported claims being made about the uses of this cloudy golden liquid, or the dried supplement forms. They range from simple anti-aging to major diseases.

There are websites alleging that apple cider vinegar is good for your skin (acne, wrinkles, freckle removal), for your follicles (hair loss and grey hair), weight loss, diabetes, blood pressure, cholesterol reduction, heartburn, detoxing, acid reflux, colds, coughs, flu, arthritis, whitening teeth, and even rumors related to cancer.

Which of these alleged benefits are based on scientific fact and which are pure fiction?

Some are legit (and impressive) but others are outright scams that can jeopardize your health.

In order to know the truth, you can’t get a quick answer from Snopes. You first need to understand the basic characteristics of ACV for everything else to make sense.

Since most kinds of vinegars are low calorie, people often assume they must be healthy. It turns out the opposite is true. They actually have the potential to be bad for you. Especially in high dosages.

We spent a couple days researching the pH and acid levels for all of the most commonly consumed vinegars. Surprisingly, this is not data that is readily available from a source like Wikipedia or even several sources combined.

To get this info, especially for the less common types, you really have to scour over many sources ranging from online research papers to offline books, obscure websites, you name it. After doing all that, we’re happy to bring you this table.

ph levels & acidity for different types of vinegars
Vinegar pH Level Acetic Acidity % Source Per Tablespoon
Calories Sugar Carbs
Balsamic 2.2 6 to 8% (Italian law requires 6+) cooked grape juice (white Trebbiano grapes) 14 2 3
White Distilled 2.4 5% white wine (white grapes) 0 0 0
White Wine 2.4 5 to 7% white wine (white grapes) 0 0 0
Red Wine 2.4 6% red wine (red or black grapes) 0 0 0
Rice 2.4 4 to 6% rice (typically white) 0 0 0
Cane 2.4 4 to 5% sugarcane juice 0 0 0
Malt 2.5 to 3.5 5% barley in combination with corn (contains gluten) 0 0 0
Spirit (for pickling) 2.6 and above 5 to 28% barley (contains gluten) 0 0 0
Sherry 3 8% sherry wine (white Palomino grapes) 20 1 1
Palm 4 to 5 4 to 5% sap from nipa palm 0 0 0
Coconut 4 to 5 4% coconut water or sap 0 0 0
Honey Apple Cider 3.1 to 5 5% apples 30 6.5 7
Apple Cider 3.1 to 5 5% apples 0 0 0

Online Sources: (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) (9) (10) (11)
Offline Sources: our own data collecting/measuring and Apple Cider Vinegar: Miracle Health System by Patricia Bragg

As you see, the apple cider is an outlier from most. But why is the higher pH better?

What is ph? It stands for potential of hydrogen. It’s a scale used to measure how many protons are in a solution.

pH scale

Water has a pH of 7. That’s considered neutral, because it has a stable number of protons.

Acidic = too many protons

Basic = too few protons

Why does that affect your health? Because your cells need a neutral balance to survive.

For humans, the optimal blood pH is between 7.3 and 7.4. The further you go outside that tight range, the more your metabolic functions begin to malfunction and even stop working.

Many factors affect your pH and can turn it acidic (which is bad). Of course what you eat is a major culprit, but so is stress, sleep (or lack thereof), exercise, toxins, and other unhealthy lifestyle factors.

Your body is constantly battling to maintain its neutral pH. It can handle periodic episodes of acidity, but not the constant bombardment of a chronically unhealthy lifestyle.

Is vinegar bad for you?

If you follow an alkaline diet or simply want to reduce your acid-forming foods, is there a safe dosage to consume? Is using too much vinegar bad for your health?

Better yet, should you avoid vinegar altogether?

That’s a great question.

As you saw above, all of them are acidic. In fact here in the United States, you can’t even legally sell something and claim it’s a vinegar unless it has an acidity level of 4% or higher.

Even the healthiest vinegars apple and coconut, those still have a pH of 5 (at best) which is far below a neutral pH of 7. What is apple cider vinegar good for in the human body?

Because even though it’s acidic, it has an alkalizing effect on you!

acid-forming vs. alkaline-forming foods

It’s not as simple as just consuming alkaline foods and avoiding those which are acidic.

Many acidic foods can actually have an alkalizing affect on your body, even though they’re acidic. Take a look at the pH values of some common foods below which are alkalizing to your body after they’re consumed (28).

pH values of selected vegetables, fruits, and grains which are alkalizing
Food pH value
Cooked Kale 6.4 to 6.8
Wild Rice 6.0 to 6.4
Spinach 5.5 to 6.8
Tomatoes 4.2 to 4.9
Red Delicious Apples 3.9
Blueberries 3.7
Pineapple 3.3 to 5.2
Grapefruit 3.0 to 3.3
Regular Apple Cider (not vinegar, but that’s alkalizing too) 2.9 to 3.3
Lemon Juice 2.3
Lemons 2.2 to 2.4

With many of those, especially the citrus fruits like grapefruit and pure lemon juice, most people would probably assume they would be terrible for those following an alkalizing diet, but it’s actually the opposite… they’re good for you because despite being acidic, they alkalize in your body!

How does apple cider vinegar alkalize the body?

ACV, in addition to the vast majority of fruits and vegetables, are indeed very acidic substances when you consume them.

However once they’re inside your body and you metabolize them, they promote alkalinity. This is due to the metabolic and chemical processes which take place to break down and digest them. (48) (49)

Hmm… perhaps using some Bragg daily isn’t such a crazy idea after all.

young man eating burger and fries
This is definitely NOT alkalizing food!

For the most part, the alkalizing effect of foods is only the case with plant-based. Like vegetables, the vast majority of animal products also have acidic pH values to begin with too. However unlike vegetables, their affect in the body is acidifying instead of alkalizing.

To give you a few examples (28):

  • butter = 6.1 to 6.4 pH
  • milk = 6.3 to 8.5 pH
  • egg whites = 7 to 9 pH
  • ground beef = 5.1 to 6.2 pH
  • chicken = 6.5 to 6.7 pH
  • cheddar cheese = 5.9 pH
  • cream = 6.5 pH

Those are pH values comparable to some of the plants in the table above, right? Yep. But in order to digest them, the metabolic processes are quite different. Plants have fiber, their cells have walls, animals have neither of those characteristics.

Is ACV healthier than other vinegars?

different vinegar types on Whole Foods shelfThis, my friend, is what makes the substance so special.

Compare the pH value of apple cider vinegar vs. white wine, red wine, balsamic, and the other common varieties… you would think they would all behave in a similar manner, right? That’s not the case.

Similar pH values, different outcomes.

With the exception of coconut sap vinegar (i.e. Coconut Secrets brand of vinegar) all of the others have an acid-forming effect once they’re metabolized.

So not only are they acidic, but they trigger the creation of even more acid when you digest them! That means you can categorize the other vinegars with butter, beef, and other acid-forming foods.

So what happens over the long term when your body is too acidic?

Chronic metabolic acidosis and its side effects

acid lakeThis is a condition where there is too much acid in your bodily fluids (12).

Depending on severity, this can affect your vital organs (cardiovascular system, kidneys, liver, pancreas, insulin levels) and many other parts of your body.

There is a large amount of research which suggests an acidic environment promotes tumor growth. Some research gets quite specific for certain types, such as the study “Acidosis promotes invasiveness of breast cancer cells through ROS-AKT-NF-kB pathway” which looks at signaling events believed to be occurring specifically for cancer cells of the breast (13). For when the acidosis is diet induced, its link to cancer is possible but not conclusive (14).

However that research does not warrant the unfounded claims by some that apple cider vinegar is a cancer prevention method or treatment. Contrary to what some blogs erroneously claim, there are no medical studies which have evaluated ACV – neither in diet nor as a supplement – for cancer treatment or preventing it. If you’ve read advice that it is a cure or preventive method, that is simply not true. It’s dangerous for people to spread lies like that.

To be clear, all of the diseases discussed here can happen within an optimal pH environment, too. What most research suggests is that there is an increased risk for some diseases when acidosis is present, because the cells are not functioning as they should. Resulting side effects may include…

1. Bone diseases and muscle degradation

Research has suggested that a chronic condition of living with acidosis has the most profound affects on your musculoskeletal system (16). It can contribute to or worsen pre-existing bone diseases.

That brings us to what first appears to be a completely unrelated study…

Researchers from the World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Centre for Metabolic Bone Diseases, the University of Sheffield Medical School, the International Osteoporosis Foundation, and Oxford University put together the incidence and probability of hip fractures worldwide, as published in the September 2012 issue of Osteoporosis International (21).
per capita hip fracture prevalence statistics

If “milk does a body good” as the dairy industry says, and if more calcium = stronger bones, then why, as the study says, do “countries with the higher calcium intakes have the greater hip fracture risk.

Look at China in green, where dairy and meat have been rare in their diet due to unaffordability as well as preferences. Though that is now changing with the upper middle class, since new found wealth has led to increasingly Westernized diets. Likewise for India.

Is our thinking about osteoporosis being caused by too little calcium wrong? Is something else contributing?

An increasing number of prominent minds in nutrition and science have suggested that our modern Westernized diets likely have something to do with it.

In the Western diet we overdose on acid forming foods, such as meats, dairy, and processed foods. On the other hand, fresh vegetables are alkalizing. This may be one reason why studies have shown that people who eat no meat or diary (or very little of it) tend to have a pH which is more alkaline.

Despite the fact that these plant-based dieters may have lower calcium intake, they still have a bone mineral density (BMD) comparable to omnivores (22) (23) (24).

It’s been theorized that that their lower acid load promotes bone health (25) (26). For a couple decades now, there has been quite a bit of research which suggests that those on plant-based diets actually have lower rates of osteoporosis than the general public, which of course goes against the grain of what most people believe (27).

Dr. T. Colin Campbell
Dr. T. Colin Campbell

Dr. T. Colin Campbell, Professor Emeritus of Nutritional Biochemistry at Cornell University, has done some of the most extensive studies on this subject matter. If you’re a cider vinegar fan, you will enjoy his latest book published in 2016 which offers some of the best, easy-to-follow advice on reducing dietary sources of acid: The China Study Solution: The Simple Way to Lose Weight and Reverse Illness, Using a Whole-Food, Plant-Based Diet.

In conclusion, no one can claim with 100% confidence exactly why acidosis contributes to osteoporosis and other diseases of the musculoskeletal system, but the theory that an alkaline diet may benefit them – although unproven – is at least a promising idea for sure.

2. Insulin resistance and its cascading effects

Even in healthy humans, the “slightest degree” of acidosis causes insulin resistance (15).

The same source cites the modern Western diet as producing “a lifetime acidotic state” and goes on to discuss the cascading effect this has on contributing to type 2 diabetes, kidney failure, cardiovascular risk and more. Diabetic patients in particular are called out because they “consume particularly acidogenic diets.”

Regarding cardiovascular risk, animal studies have suggested that acute (or temporary) acidosis will affect the cardiovascular system the most severely. Though chronic (or long term) acidosis does not seem to have a major effect on cardiovascular (16). See #3 below for what chronic acidosis is said to affects the most.

3. Skin rashes and eczema, but no proof for acne

When the very elderly have dermatitis and other skin diseases, it’s hard telling what caused it (cell mutations, long term UV damage, etc). But how about when it’s a 6 year-old boy?

A medical paper from 2012 looked at a 6 year-old Vietnamese boy who “presented with recurrent episodes of severe metabolic acidosis precipitated by intercurrent illnesses” (17).

In this case the acidosis was apparently triggered by a gene mutation which prevented biotin (vitamin B7) metabolism. Fortunately it was “highly treatable” by giving him biotin supplements. Before that, while he had the acidosis, he had extensive skin rashes throughout his body.

That evidence suggests that even in young people, acidosis can be bad for your skin.

Can metabolic acidosis cause acne? Since the human body can respond to acidosis any number of different ways, it’s not inconceivable that pimples may be a possible side effect. That being said, we have not been able to locate any reputable medical studies which specifically link the two.

cure for acneDoes apple cider vinegar help with acne? Well if there is no solid evidence linking acidosis + acne, then it’s highly misleading to add another step in the equation of the vinegar possibly benefiting acidosis, which then benefits acne.

Conclusion? Any uses of ACV acne treatment or cures have not been backed by science, therefore we can definitely place those in the myth category.

With that caveat in mind, what we do know is that metabolic acidosis can affect growth hormones (18).

Surprisingly, the fields of science and medicine still don’t know for sure the exact conditions which trigger acne. However it is strongly suspected the hormonal levels play a part, at least in some situations of the disease (19).

Insulin levels are known to affect hormone levels (20). For that reason, it is possible that perhaps acidosis has some connection with acne vulgaris, since it is confirmed that acidosis can affect hormones. But again we stress, no research yet validates that and we are strongly against giving people false hope for anything.

As having experienced severe acne as teens ourselves, we know what it’s like to suffer and how we were willing to try anything and everything – from OTC treatments to dangerous Accutane – yet nothing really worked. Please don’t let people mislead you into believing using vinegar is a cure for acne because nothing validates that alleged health benefit, at least not as of today.

4. Varicose veins study

With all that said, it is true that people are using it for some topical purposes without being harmed in the process (45).

Published in 2016, it doesn’t sound like this study was evaluating or even suggesting that ACV could help with the appearance of spider and varicose veins. Rather, it was whether or not it could benefit the side effects, symptoms, and “social appearance anxiety” which accompanied the varicose vein treatments that were administered by their doctors. The conclusion was that the ACV “increased the positive effects of conservative treatment.”

This isn’t anything to get excited about in our opinion, since it was evaluating whether the vinegar harmed them when applied topically (apparently it didn’t). It was not claiming or suggesting that ACV was a varicose vein treatment.

What does the mother mean?

Okay, so even if ACV is alkalizing to the body, the same can be said about a plethora of fruits and vegetables, too.

Healthwise, if that’s all it’s good for, then it’s not any more exciting than eating a spinach salad.

Guess what… it does more than just alkalize.

What is the mother in organic apple cider vinegar like Braggs raw and unfiltered?

the mother in Braggs vinegar

The mother of vinegar, as it is called, is naturally formed during the fermentation process. It’s cobweb-like strands of enzymes and good bacteria. Rather than take this out, products like Braggs leave it in the bottle.

Admittedly, this photo makes it look gross, but that’s only because we’re trying to show you an extreme example of what the mother looks like. What you get in a bottle of Braggs is mixed and broken apart. Until you get to the very bottom of the bottle – like the last 2% of liquid in it – you’re not going to see something that pronounced and even then, it will not be in actual distinct pieces.

Is the mother a form of probiotics? Are they alive? Since it’s unpasteurized, it’s possible there are digestive health benefits of apple cider vinegar from probiotics. Many have claimed the mother is living but without actual test results to verify how much – if any – was alive, we never felt comfortable making that same claim.

probiotics on intestinal wall
What probiotics look like on your intestinal wall

Finally in 2016, a study was published which confirmed they are living (29). The following 5 kinds of good bacteria (probiotics) were found in the tests:

  • acetobacter
  • lactobacillus
  • oenococcus
  • komagataeibacter
  • gluconobacter

We stress that still does not tell us exactly how much is surviving by the time you get the bottle.

It could be a lot or very little.

But guess what? The biggest benefit for your GI tract may have nothing to do with whether or not you’re getting probiotics from the ACV.

Digestive uses and benefits

What we find more exciting is the prebiotic characteristics of this vinegar. That means it acts as a fertilizer for the good bacteria (probiotics) which are already in your gut.

barrels for aging vinegar
For their barrels, Bragg’s says they use “Douglas fir/redwood barrels as well as stainless steel.” The latter is not ideal, but wooden barrels boost fermentation and therefore, more probiotic and prebiotic properties.

Scientifically speaking, prebiotics make a lot more sense than probiotic supplements. Why? Because unless you are buying refrigerated probiotics, the spores you get are from gel capsules which sit inside room temperature bottles (for who knows how long) may or may not be alive.

Plus, they’re meant to colonize after your stomach acid further down the tract, not before!

When you take them as a supplement, the capsule dissolves in your stomach and who knows how much survives past the stomach’s hydrochloric acid, which can have a pH as low as 1.5.

Its prebiotic – pectin – is likely why ACV benefits digestive problems and issues as so many claim. In the colon and large intestine, probiotics feed on the pectin.

During that fermentation process, short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) are produced such as acetate, propionate, and butyrate (30). Research has suggested those SCFAs “exert multiple beneficial effects on various aspects of mammalian energy metabolism” (31).

Reduced appetite symptoms and SCFAs (such as from pectin) are frequently discussed together (32). It is said to slow your absorption of glucose by trapping carbohydrates and hence, they take longer to digest.

Studies as far back as the 80’s have suggested this; “Pectin supplementation caused a significant prolongation of gastric emptying half-time of both liquid and solid meals” (33).

It has also been demonstrated that pectin will bind to cholesterol, which leads to reduced absorption of it from dietary sources (34).

Two good reasons to use it

Given all the poorly researched posts and fake news out there about this, it’s not easy for a consumer to decipher between the myths and reality.

The list of debunked ACV claims is a mile long. Not all, but many of the benefits hyped are exaggerated, misleading, and even dangerous to tell people. For example, those claiming apple cider vinegar can cure cancer are spreading a lie. At least as of today, there is no scientific validation for that claim whatsoever.

celebrity Katy Perry quote about ACV
Bragg’s brand has a loyal celebrity following which reportedly includes Madonna, Demi Moore, Fergie, Miranda Kerr, Scarlett Johansson, Heidi Klum, and especially Katy Perry who even before she was famous, was long time friends with company matriarch Patricia Bragg (they both come from Santa Barbara). Image credit: Braggs

But don’t mistake our realism with lack of enthusiasm.

There are two very good reasons for supplementing with apple cider vinegar… the fact that it is alkalizing and its pectin content.

Neither of these benefits are unique to it, but that doesn’t change the fact it’s an excellent zero calorie way to get them.

If anything, it’s these two factors which likely are what’s responsible for the many health benefits suspected.

It is also possible, though not proven, that ACV might provide a unique delivery vehicle of getting these nutrients into your body, which offers other synergistic health effects that otherwise wouldn’t be realized.

Personally, we love Braggs and use it almost everyday. We do notice a difference in our own digestion on days we use it versus those we don’t; reduced gas and bloating.

We’re not making the claim that it is a remedy for gas, just reporting on our personal experience from using it. Almost daily, Braggs is a core ingredient in the salad at lunch.

Being a liquid, you can easily add it to many foods. Or you can even drink it by diluting 1 or 2 tablespoons in an 8+ ounce glass of water. The Braggs bottles sold at the grocery store are rather expensive on a per serving basis, so hardcore users will save money if they buy it by the gallon on Amazon.

As far as the research and studies done specifically on apple cider vinegar, there are only a couple dozen and very few of them are evaluating it in relation to a disease or condition. Many of the papers are looking at chemical properties and things of that nature. This is why the health benefits which people claim about the vinegar specifically are often times misleading. They are taking findings on acidosis and pectin, then reporting them as if they were studied for or specific to ACV, when they usually aren’t.

As far as the studies to date which are specific to ACV, here’s a review of the ones we have found to be most intriguing.

Insecticide levels in cider vinegar

How much pesticides are in vinegar? Is there a difference in buying organic vs. non organic apple cider vinegar?

That has nothing to do with whether the product is pasteurized or raw. It only means whether you are buying vinegar made from non-organic apples or organic apples. Are the benefits of the latter worth paying more for?

pesticides danger signThis study, dating way back to 1982, evaluated how much parathion (a potent insecticide) would be found in the product after one full year (39).

  • To start, the apple juice had 22 ppm (ug/g) of parathion.
  • After 12 days of fermentation, the cider had 7.4 ppm.
  • After 56 days (prior to bottling) it contained 2.2 ppm.
  • After 365 days, it contained about 1.5 ppm, or 6% of the original amount.

Conclusion? Whether you’re buying organic or non-organic, the good news is that the half-life of pesticides and insecticides means they will degrade over time. With fresh produce only a few days may have passed, but with processed products like vinegar and other condiments, the greater amount of time means more degradation of the chemicals.

Parathion, which goes by the trade name Folidol, is an older generation pesticide which is highly toxic to humans and even banned in 30+ countries today (though it’s still legal in the United States). Even with something as terrible as this chemical, you’re looking at a 94% reduction over the period of a year.

Is the 1.5 ppm in the non-organic sample perfect? No, however it certainly wouldn’t concern us enough to not consume it.

But that’s not the only reason conventional may be worse for you…

Organic vs. non organic affects bacteria

Given the short half-life of most pesticides, some organic foods are not worth buying if you’re on a budget.

However with this product, you have another reason to buy the USDA certified organic.

This liquid is made by the oxidation of ethanol to acetic acid. This process is initiated by the bacteria living on the surface of the fruit.

Until recently, it was assumed both organic and conventional had the same bacterial microbiota, and therefore, the final fermented product would be the same. Now we know otherwise.

In 2016, researchers at a university in Slovenia (yes, that’s where Melania Trump is from) published data showing differences (46). Only the organic contained the following species:

  • Acetobacter ghanensis – 12.5% of total bacteria
  • Komagataeibacter saccharivorans – 6.25%

The scientists concluded that:

“This study has demonstrated that the microbiota of the organic apple cider vinegar is more heterogeneous than that of conventional apple cider vinegar, which may influence the chemical composition and sensorial quality of vinegars.”

In other words, the compounds and phytonutrients created by the fermenting bacteria might differ between conventional vs. organic.

Antifungal properties

Those on a candida diet are already quite familiar with the yeast-like fungus Candida albicans.

Normally, it’s harmless and is believed to be found in the gastrointestinal tracts of over 70% of the population. In the United States, 30 to 35% of young adults test positive for it in the membrane-lined cavity behind the nose and mouth (the pharynx) which can cause oral candidiasis, which is more commonly known as thrush.

bacteria and fungus in petri dishThe problems from candida stems from overgrowth which occurs in some people. It is believed that up to 75% of women experience vaginal candidiasis at some point in their lives and about 40 to 50% will experience more than one episode.

6.9 per 1,000 Intensive Care Unit (ICU) patients suffer from candidemia, making it the 4th most prevalent bloodstream infection in the country (35).

For those who are susceptible to overgrowth, they often often follow a candida diet. It is a low sugar diet that minimizes fruit and other forms of carbohydrates/sugars (36).

Regarding the consumption of yeast and fermented foods/drinks, there are differing schools of thought. Some believe fermented foods are rich in lactic acid which can benefit candida overgrowth.

Others say that there are good fermented foods and bad fermented foods. Whatever camp you fall into, is apple cider vinegar good for a candida diet?

A study published in 2015 looked at the antifungal activity of ACV on candida (37). Specifically, it evaluated the in vitro effects it had on denture stomatitis – symptoms of inflammation and redness under a denture – which can be triggered by candida.

Those findings may offer some justification as to what many nutritionists and followers of alternative medicine have been saying for years; that ACV is good for candida (38).

In fact, many believe it’s the only one to have and the other types such as white wine, red wine, and balsamic vinegars are bad for candida.

In addition to dietary consumption, you will hear many of those same people allege that cider vinegar can cure vaginal yeast infections when used as a douche.

Cholesterol and blood sugar levels

While not human studies, there have been two studies which evaluated using ACV and its side effect on cholesterol and lipid profiles in rodents.

Remember these are animal – not human – studies and any findings are very preliminary.

diagram of HDL, LDL, and triglyceridesThe diabetic rat study

This study from 2008 compared the Fasting Blood Glucose (FBG) in both normal and induced-diebetic rats (40).

Their diet consisted of normal food (for rats, anyway) along with apple cider vinegar, which represented 6% of the food intake by weight. They were monitored for 4 weeks.

The results?

For the diabetic group the fasting blood glucose didn’t change, but the glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c) decreased “significantly.” Why that matters is because higher levels of HbA1c causes a body to have less control over blood glucose levels (41).

The diabetic rats also experienced lower triglycerides (TG), lower LDL/bad cholesterol, and higher HDL/good cholesterol.

The normal rats didn’t have their HbA1c affected (probably because it was healthy to begin with) but they still experienced lower LDL cholesterol and higher HDL cholesterol, which are both positive benefits of course.

Another more recent rat study in 2018 reported similar, as well as ACV antioxidants benefits (50):

“In conclusion, the findings show that ACV possesses significant antihyperglycemic and antioxidant effects in an experimental model of diabetes mellitus, by preventing diabetic complications in liver and kidneys.”

The high cholesterol rat study

Conducted in 2011, this study focused on blood lipids (42). It’s similar to the one above in the sense that rats with unhealthy diets were being supplemented with ACV. But that’s where the similarities stop.

First of all, the control group was not administered any cider vinegar. All other groups of rats were, but rather than eating it in their diet, they were force fed it using an oral gavage (which is basically a hybrid of a syringe and a dropper, for administration through the mouth).

However the biggest difference is that these rats were fed a high cholesterol diet and as a result, they had hepatic steatosis (fatty liver disease).

With the exception of the control group, all of the rats experienced decreased triglyceride levels and LDL levels, while increasing HDL levels. Their fatty liver disease also benefited.

Side effects of ACV

Not everything reported is peaches and cream. Is apple cider vinegar bad for you? These two pieces of research point out some ugly side effects which can result.

Erosion of tooth enamel

enamel damage from acid vinegar
The 15 year old’s front teeth with severe erosion of the buccal surfaces

Reported in Dutch (so we had to translate), this 2012 article reviewed the medical history of a 15 year old Moroccan girl who experienced loss of enamel and erosion of her teeth.

It was concluded that the cause was from drinking apple cider vinegar daily (43). It was unclear whether the acidity was reduced by diluting it in water or if she just drank the vinegar straight.

This is something to keep in mind for those who supplement with it in the form of a drink. Those doing vinegar shots may want to reconsider that use of it.

Perhaps worst of all, there are many ACV teeth whitening reviews and tips online which might actually be dangerous… any “whitening” effect experienced may be your enamel being eroded permanently!

Chemical skin burns

woman treating arm with apple cider vinegarSince it contains natural alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs), you will fine many people online who use it as a skin exfoliant.

Many are hoping this exfoliation helps firm skin and prevent face wrinkles.

Some say it’s good for exfoliating the scalp, which can help with dandruff and itchiness.

We discussed how dietary consumption of apple cider vinegar will not help acne. Some people believe though it can help prevent and treat pimples when applied topically to the skin.

Some use it for hair care purposes, ranging from simple rinses to homemade masks and toners. We even saw sources which claimed it was a “very effective treatment for hair loss” and having the ability to regrow it, yet offered absolutely zero evidence to back that claim (it was a spammy site, probably just trying to get ad clicks). Ditto for the claims about reversing gray hair.

The effectiveness for any hair or skin care treatment is unproven. None of the aforementioned benefits have been clinically studied.

Using something that is ineffective is bad enough, but using something that is ineffective and harmful is even worse. Many of these so called herbal remedies and forms of alternative medicine have the potential to be bad for your health. Using the vinegar to remove freckles or warts may result in chemical burns of the skin, which have been notated in medical literature (47).

Unhealthy weight loss

Why was a 15 year old girl drinking this stuff in the first place?! That same paper discusses the reason why.

In Morocco and and other North African cultures, women have been using apple cider vinegar for weight loss and dieting “for generations.” It also talks about men who are into bodybuilding using it for that same reason.

Using it in concentrated and high dosage forms as a dieting technique may not be healthy or safe, as this example of harming your teeth is case in point!

Then there are the people combining it with diet pills. What clinical data is there to verify that doing so is safe?

We saw this advertorial for Muscle X and apple cider vinegar:

deceptive Muscle X webpage

Look at the URL and logo. The webpage looks like it’s Fox News, but it’s actually a subdomain. In layman’s terms, that website is celebrity-body and not

That so-called review of Muscle X Tst 1700 is only one example. There are other supplements being sold with fake CNN pages about adding dried vinegar powder to things like CLA safflower oil and garcinia. Some tout alleged reviews and testimonials from Harvard and Stanford students.

Sorry, contrary to what you may see, Anderson Cooper is not peddling pills on a CNN “special report.”

Then there are other supplements which are not doing those fake news websites. But you still read about people combining Test Boost Elite or Alpha X Boost and ACV, which are purported testosterone boosters.

Or using it with diet pills like Slim Fit 180, Exceptional Garcinia, and Supreme Garcina. Green tea pills and cayenne capsules are other examples. Have any of these combos been proven effective and safe for your health… or your wallet?

If you want to drop pounds, consider the proven ways to boost metabolism.

Mole and nevi removal risks

The internet is littered with “at home” guides and steps for how to remove moles or nevi with apple cider vinegar. Doing so is dangerous and this 2015 paper is a perfect example of why that is (44).

mole removal chemical burn and scar
ACV mole removal results = chemical burn and scar!

A 14 year old girl had found an online instruction manual for how to chemically remove “ugly moles” using a “natural remedy.”

She applied drops of the vinegar as the instructions said and by the second day, was experiencing significant irritation.

A couple days later the nevi “peeled off” and what she was left with were chemical burns. Her mom confiscated the vinegar and promptly brought her to a pediatric dermatology clinic to help.

Fortunately in this case, wearing an ointment for several weeks and the use of sunscreen to protect it from UV made it sound as if she fully recovered (the exact outcome was not explicitly stated).

She is lucky because things could have been a lot worse, especially given the fragile nature of the cartilage in that area of the nose (alar wing). Her eyes could have accidentally been exposed to the acid, too.

Even though some people report positive mole removal results at home, any kind of self-administered treatment like this can result in devastating side effects. These “how to” instructions should not be attempted. Treatment of nevi and moles should only be done by a doctor.

What it boils down to

As a dietary supplement, there are apple cider vinegar benefits for health, but one needs to know what’s fact vs. myth. Don’t be misled by the bogus claims and unsafe treatment remedies associated with it. Instead, just enjoy it for the scientifically validated advantages it does offer you!

While there are a number of fine organic brands, this is the one we stick with.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.