If you're someone who struggles with allergies, you know that there's only so much that you can do to prevent the torturous itching, tickling, sneezing, and sniffling that come along with them. There are plenty of creative at-home remedies for seasonal allergies with varying degrees of effectiveness, including inhaling essential oils, running a neti pot through your nasal passage, and sprinkling smoothies with bee pollen.
It comes as no surprise that apple cider vinegar, the wellness world's favourite panacea, is another common tool that people use to relieve allergy symptoms "naturally." The reason? Some say that apple cider vinegar can boost the immune system, as well as thin the mucus in your throat. Others suggest that you should run apple cider vinegar through a traditional neti pot — which, ouch.
So, what's the tea on ACV for allergies? "Apple cider vinegar is not a typical therapy I would recommend for allergy," says Miguel Wolbert, MD, a board-certified allergist in Midland, TX. Most people with seasonal allergies use medications, such as antihistamines, which prevent compounds called histamines from attaching to cells and causing allergy symptoms. But apple cider vinegar doesn't really have any antihistamine properties, Dr. Wolbert says. In fact, there are zero published reports of the medical benefits of apple cider vinegar and allergic rhinitis, he says.
As far as the other purported benefits go, there might be a better way to deal with allergies. The best method for thinning and clearing mucus is staying hydrated and taking a hot shower or inhaling steam, Erich Voigt, MD, clinical associate professor in the Department of Otolaryngology at NYU Langone Medical Center, told Refinery29. Then, for neti pots, you have to be very careful with the type of liquid that you put inside of it, because it's possible to get a brain infection if you swish with contaminated water. For that reason, you should only use sterile or distilled water in a neti pot.
Bummer as this might be for those of us who are desperate to find a solution for allergies, it's not the end of the world. There are so many proven complementary treatments that you should consider asking your doctor or healthcare provider about, and they are way safer. For example, there's evidence that acupuncture and probiotics may help manage and prevent symptoms of allergies. Other people simply take extra care to avoid coming in contact with their triggers, like staying indoors or showering after being outside.
And if you absolutely must use apple cider vinegar for something in your life, you're probably better off keeping it to your salads.