Raise your hand if you've ever been personally hustled, scammed, and bamboozled by apple cider vinegar? No shade if you have, because it's easy to buy into the wellness elixir: you can get apple cider vinegar at most grocery stores, it's cheap, plus people say it's supposed to be amazing for your scalp and skin, as well as your gut health. And although it tastes kind of gnarly, it's just vinegar, so what could go wrong? A lot, actually.
Anecdotally, people say consuming apple cider vinegar, aka "ACV," can cause a whole bunch of stomach issues, most notably diarrhea and nausea. Studies have shown that apple cider vinegar delays "gastric emptying," meaning it messes with your body's ability to move food from the stomach into the intestines, which can leave you feeling queasy. (That's one of the reasons why so many people recommend drinking shots of ACV on an empty stomach.) On top of that, the sugar in apple cider vinegar can trigger peristalsis, an uncomfortable wave-like contraction in the intestines. And undiluted vinegar can pull water out of your intestines, causing diarrhea.
While this might sound a touch dramatic that a product as seemingly ubiquitous as apple cider vinegar could be so rough on your body, it's important to remember that at its core, ACV is vinegar. It's a highly acidic substance, so if you drink it on the regular, it can irritate your throat and wear away your tooth enamel, leading to mouth pain and discomfort. People who also take medications like diuretics or insulin, also have to be super careful with apple cider vinegar because it can interfere and lead to low potassium levels, according to the Mayo Clinic.
So, does this all mean that you can never drink apple cider vinegar ever again? Not necessarily. If you are a fan of consuming ACV, you should definitely let your doctor or healthcare provider know. They might have legit instructions or warnings that apply to your personal health history. For example, some studies have shown that ACV has an effect on your blood sugar, so that's pretty major for people with Type 2 diabetes.
As for other off-label uses for ACV, like hair and skin masks, it's likewise a good idea to proceed with caution; some people may experience a skin reaction when ACV is applied topically. So, even though ACV seems like a cure-all that everyone is chugging, it's probably not going to fix your whole life, and there's very little research that shows it does anything. Bottom line: ACV could cause more problems than it solves, so proceed with caution.