When it comes to home remedies, perhaps none are as popular right now as apple cider vinegar (ACV), or cider vinegar. Although many are quick to dismiss ACV as a fad, the truth is that humans have been using vinegar for a variety of ailments for thousands of years. Using apple cider vinegar and honey together also has a rich history.
So, why are people fans of this mixture, anyway?
What’s So Great About Apple Cider Vinegar?
Some claim that apple cider vinegar has potent antibacterial and antifungal properties, perhaps due to high levels of acetic acid and a double-fermentation process. This process, advocates claim, makes the nutrients in the drink more readily available; there is some limited research that suggests that fermented foods are “superior in nutrients” to unfermented alternatives.
It’s important to note that unfiltered ACV is best. Why? Because the filtering process removes the materials that make this drink so potent (aka, “the Mother”).
Why the Honey?
Apple cider vinegar is, well, a little sour and unpleasant tasting. Honey helps make the mixture more palatable. Some claim that honey boosts the effectiveness of ACV, although scientific research is still needed to back up these claims.
When using apple cider vinegar and honey, it’s best to dilute the solution with some water first. This action reduces the high concentration of acidity in the mixture, meaning it’s easier for some people to tolerate and it’s less likely to cause tooth enamel erosion. Many people start at a mixture of 15 mL of ACV and 500 mL of water. Over time, some people double this amount, meaning they mix 30 mL of ACV with 500 mL of water.
Some people claim they achieve better results by using this mixture as a condiment for salads and the like, rather than directly drinking ACV. Note that this usage often involves diluting ACV with water. Other times, pre-packaged mixtures take the guesswork out of everything. For instance, Bragg offers a popular blend of organic honey and raw, organic ACV.
Potential benefits of this mixture include:
- Weight loss
- Reduced cancer risk
- Reduced risk of heart disease and stroke
Potential Weight Loss
One of the most popular uses for apple cider vinegar is to promote weight loss. While experts haven’t come to a definitive conclusion on whether or not ACV can boost weight loss, a few limited studies suggest that the acetic acid in this mixture may give those already attempting to lose weight a little boost. In other words, ACV won’t magically shed fat, but it might make other weight-loss efforts just a little bit more effective.
One 2009 article from Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry, for example, examined the effects of vinegar on the weight loss of of obese Japanese participants. This double-blind trial took place over 12 weeks, and examined weight loss results of the participants, to whom researchers gave either 15 mL, 30 mL, or 0 mL of vinegar. The results? Both vinegar groups showed better results than the placebo group.
Specifically, the vinegar groups noticed a sharper decrease in the following:
- Body weight
- Visceral fat area
- Waist circumference
- Serum triglyceride levels
It’s important to remember that this limited study only examined the effects of vinegar, not ACV with honey.
Potentially Reduced Risk of Cancer
Apple cider vinegar has a high concentration of polyphenols, which are known to have antioxidant properties. What do these properties have to do with cancer?
Let’s break it down.
Free radicals are highly reactive molecules that can lead to oxidative stress in high enough concentrations. Two serious consequences of severe oxidative stress are damaged DNA and rapidly multiplying cells. Unfortunately, both damaged DNA and cell proliferation are perfect ingredients for cancer.
Substances high in antioxidants help protect against oxidative stress. Specifically, antioxidants effectively stabilize free radicals, meaning less oxidative stress is likely to occur. This reduction, in turn, can mean a reduced risk of cancer.
Potentially Reduced Risk of Heart Disease and Stroke
Remember that one 12-week study that suggested that a little bit of vinegar may promote weight loss? In that same study, the vinegar groups also showed lowered levels of triglycerides. Why is that important? Because elevated levels of triglycerides in the blood is strongly associated with increased risk of serious health conditions like cardiovascular disease and stroke.
While many people tout the benefits of ACV, few discuss the potentially harmful side effects of this concoction. Potential side effects of taking apple cider vinegar with honey include:
- Elevated cholesterol levels
- Reduced liver function
- Teeth damage
One 2013 article from the International Journal of Obesity suggests that nausea may be an unpleasant side effect of trying to use vinegar as an appetite suppressant. Specifically, in one study, researchers gave participants vinegar and then measured objective and subjective measures of fullness. Those who reported lower appetite levels also reported higher levels of nausea. These results are partly the reason that these researchers believe that vinegar is currently not a good natural appetite suppressant.
Elevated Cholesterol Levels
One 2011 article from the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry examined the effects of apple cider vinegar and cholesterol in rats. Researchers gave some rats both cholesterol and ACV samples while giving the control group a high-cholesterol diet alone. The study found that while the ACV rats did experience lower triglyceride levels, they also had elevated total, HDL (“good” cholesterol), and LDL (“bad” cholesterol) cholesterol levels.
Reduced Liver Function
Elevated cholesterol levels weren’t all the rats in this 2011 study experienced. If those side effects weren’t bad enough, these ACV rats also experienced decreased liver function compared to the non-ACV rats on a high-cholesterol diet.
Apple cider vinegar is pretty acidic; this acidity can attack and wear down tooth enamel, the protective coating of your teeth. Enamel erosion can lead to unpleasant symptoms like increased sensitivity and discoloration.
Be especially wary of ACV if you’ve recently had oral surgery. Some people, for example, claim this tonic is great either as a beverage to drink or food to eat after wisdom teeth removal. Once again, research suggests this practice isn’t ideal. A limited case study, for instance, found that ACV eroded enamel on wisdom teeth.
There are some limited studies that tout the potential benefits of apple cider vinegar, although further research is needed to confirm these results. Furthermore, research mostly focuses on just the effects of either honey, vinegar, or ACV separately, meaning more studies are needed to examine the effects of drinking this specific mixture.
In short, research has not conclusively proven the health benefits of this mixture; just a few smaller studies suggest there is potential health use for ACV. Be wary of claims that apple cider vinegar with honey is a wonder tonic that can cure a wide variety of medical conditions.
While research has not conclusively proven the effects of this mixture, people today continue the long tradition of using apple cider vinegar and honey as a tonic in the hopes of boosting their health. It’s important to always talk to a doctor before attempting any sort of home remedy, as drinking ACV may result in serious side effects for some people.