Apple cider vinegar has been a popular addition to kitchen pantries for generations. It’s been used in both cooking and medicine for hundreds of years.
Recently, apple cider vinegar or ACV has been in health news and has been touted as a versatile and effective remedy for anything from insect bites to heartburn.
Yes, you read that right! It might seem strange that something that is basically an acid could help heartburn and indigestion. Read on to find out if apple cider vinegar for heartburn can really help if you’re experiencing heartburn, acid reflux, or GERD.
This post may contain affiliate links. My full disclosure policy is sort of boring, but you can find it here.
What is ACV and how is it made?
Apple cider vinegar is simply vinegar made from apples. It’s the same kind of vinegar you’d use in recipes for salad dressings, sauces, and marinades. Chemically, it’s acetic acid, which is responsible for the tangy, sour taste of vinegar.
How is ACV Made?
Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is made by fermenting the natural sugar in apples.
- First, apples are either crushed or chopped and then covered in water.
- Yeast is mixed in which starts the process of natural fermentation, which happens when the apple sugars are converted to alcohol by the yeast.
- A second fermentation occurs which converts the alcohol just created into acetic acid, or vinegar by the formation of a good bacteria called acetobacter.
- The “mother” is a byproduct of the process, and looks like a sort of stringy, membrane type of material. It’s full of enzymes and good bacteria.
- Some companies filter out the mother just for aesthetics, but the best ACV retains the “mother” for all of its natural healthful goodness.
Apple Cider Vinegar and its Effect on Stomach Acid
It sounds counterintuitive to treat stomach acid problems with another kind of acid (apple cider vinegar), but here’s how it works.
ACV makes your stomach more acidic. Yes, you read that right, more acidic.
Heartburn, acid reflux, and GERD are caused when stomach acid travels up the esophagus from the stomach. This is irritating because while the stomach is made to handle acid, your esophagus isn’t.
The theory is that when your stomach is low on acid, the muscle surrounding the valve between the stomach and the esophagus relaxes, which allows gastric acid to move out and up into your esophagus.
This is the reason apple cider vinegar works. ACV increases the acidity of your stomach, which helps to keep this valve closed so your stomach acid doesn’t creep up into your esophagus.
And voila….more acid in your stomach leads to less acid creeping up your esophagus, where it doesn’t belong.
The Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar For Heartburn, Acid Reflux, and GERD
Apple cider vinegar can be a safe way to help get your stomach issues in line as long as you don’t take excessive amounts.
If you’re under a doctor’s care for heartburn, acid reflux, or GERD, make sure to check in first to avoid any possible drug interactions. It’s important to rule out chronic issues like IBS before beginning any alternative treatment.
ACV Helps Balance Stomach Acid
Since apple cider vinegar is naturally acidic, it can help raise stomach acid levels to aid digestion in people with low stomach acid.
Low stomach acid can cause poor digestive activity. Because the lack of acid means food and nutrients can’t be broken down, they sit in the stomach longer than they should. During that extra time, bacteria can build up.
The whole process can lead to gas and bloating, which definitely isn’t comfortable.
Apple Cider Vinegar Provides Good Bacteria
Fermented foods and foods with probiotics have been proven to benefit digestive issues like SIBO. You’ve probably heard that foods like kombucha and sauerkraut can help your gut by supplying good bacteria.
Not only does the good bacteria strengthen your gut, it can help fight the bad bacteria that can cause bloating, flatulence and discomfort.
Raw, unfiltered, unpasteurized ACV with the “mother” contains good bacteria and probiotics which can help kill the bad bacteria in your gut.
Make sure your apple cider vinegar is not filtered. It should be cloudy and contain “the mother” to be effective.
ACV Can Help With Bloating and Gas
If your bloating is caused by slow digestion, adding ACV to your routine can help raise stomach acid levels to aid in digestion.
In addition, the probiotics contained in unfiltered, raw apple cider vinegar can help balance the bacteria in your gut and reduce bloating and flatulence.
Can Apple Cider Vinegar REALLY Help With Heartburn?
If you have mild to moderate digestive issues, apple cider vinegar can be effective in reducing the symptoms of heartburn.
If you have severe GERD or reflux, you may not have as much success with this natural method. If you do have severe digestive issues, make sure you’re talking to your doctor before you try alternative healing methods.
Can Apple Cider Vinegar CAUSE Heartburn?
If you drink ACV full strength it may actually cause heartburn so make sure to dilute it before drinking. Also, if your esophagus is already irritated, vinegar may increase that irritation.
How to Take Apple Cider Vinegar for Acid Reflux
If you want to take ACV for heartburn, make sure you dilute it with water:
- 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar mixed with
- 8 ounces of water.
If you find that ACV is too sour for your taste, you can add a bit of honey to the water to sweeten things up.
Can taking Apple Cider Vinegar For Heartburn Everyday Hurt You?
If you are properly diluting ACV with water and sticking with the recommended amount, you shouldn’t experience problems.
That said, drinking full Strength ACV can:
- Damage tooth enamel, so make sure to dilute it before drinking.
- Irritate your mouth and esophagus, so definitely dilute before drinking.
- Irritate a preexisting ulcer, so check with your doctor before drinking properly diluted ACV.
Always dilute ACV with water before drinking.
Which is Better for Heartburn: ACV with the Mother or Without?
If you’re ready to try apple cider vinegar for your mild heartburn, definitely start with ACV that is raw, unfiltered and unpasteurized. That way you’ll benefit from the probiotics and good bacteria that “the mother” provides.
It used to be hard to find ACV with “the mother”, but it’s so popular now, you can easily find it online or in any grocery store.
Bragg’s Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar is my favorite. Not only is it organic, but it contains “the mother” so you’ll get all that extra good probiotic bacteria.
The Takeaway: Apple Cider Vinegar is a good, natural home remedy to try for Heartburn, Reflux, and GERD
If you’re experiencing mild heartburn, acid reflux or GERD, apple cider vinegar can usually improve your symptoms. ACV works by balancing the acid in your stomach if you suffer from low stomach acid.
It also can help relieve bloating as it helps balance the bacteria in your gut.
It’s definitely worth a try adding it to your diet, so even if you don’t want to drink it diluted, try adding it to salads or marinades as a tasty way to add ACV to your daily diet.