Until now, you may have thought that apple cider vinegar (ACV) is only good for dressing salads. People across the globe use ACV in a number of other, more medicinal ways. In fact, many even use it as the central ingredient in what is called an apple cider vinegar detox. The idea is that raw, unfiltered ACV still has “the mother” in it. The mother contains good bacteria for the gut, vitamins, minerals, and enzymes. It’s normal for ACV with the mother to be murky or cloudy.
The use of apple cider vinegar for detoxification, diet, or other benefits goes back thousands of years. Some claim the father of medicine, Hippocrates, promoted ACV’s health qualities as far back as 400 B.C. More recently, makers of Bragg apple cider vinegar have been touting its health advantages since 1912 (1).
What are the benefits of an apple cider vinegar detox?
The body is able to detoxify itself. There isn’t much scientific research to support the argument that detox diets remove toxins from the body (2). Many people use a detox diet to begin changing their diet, remove processed foods from their menu, and then introduce healthier whole foods. The supposed benefits you may gain from an ACV detox are both internal and external.
- giving the body a good dose of enzymes
- increasing potassium intake
- supporting a healthy immune system
- helping with weight control
- promoting pH-balance in the body
- aiding with healthy digestion
- adding good bacteria for the gut and immune function
- helping to remove “sludge toxins” from the body
- soothing skin and helping to keep it healthy
- healing acne when used externally
You may hear that ACV helps to reduce appetite and even burn fat (3). There is also evidenceto suggest that adding ACV to the daily routine may help with type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol.
The basic “health drink” recipe is as follows (4):
- 1 to 2 tablespoons of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar
- 8 ounces of purified or distilled water
- 1 to 2 tablespoons sweetener (organic honey, maple syrup, or 4 drops of Stevia)
There are many variations on this basic drink. Some include adding lemon juice. Others add a dash of cayenne pepper. With an apple cider vinegar detox, you consume this type of drink regularly for a set period of time — several days to a month or more. Many people choose to consume it three times each day: upon waking, mid-morning, and again mid-afternoon (5).
There isn’t any formal research specifically about apple cider vinegar as part of a detox diet. Much of the information you will find online is purely anecdotal and should be read with caution.
This isn’t to say that the health properties of ACV haven’t been examined. For example, there is a growing body of research related to ACV and its impact on type 2 diabetes. In one small study, consuming this ingredient lowered both blood glucose and insulin in 12 diabetic subjects. Not only that, but the subjects’ fullness after eating bread increased (6).
When it comes to weight loss, there are a few studies that support ACV’s powers. One out of Japan revealed that obese rats who drank ACV daily lost more body weight and fat mass than the rats in the control group (7). The waist circumference and triglyceride levels for rats in the groups that consumed ACV lowered significantly as well.
In yet another study, apple cider vinegar lowered the LDL, triglyceride, and cholesterol levels in 19 people with hyperlipidemia or high blood fats (8). The results suggest that regularly consuming ACV may even be a good way to prevent atherosclerosis in people at high risk of developing this complication and other heart issues.
However, these studies were either conducted on animals or very small sample groups of people. Larger-scale studies on humans are still needed.
Because evidence surrounding apple cider vinegar is largely anecdotal, we curated comments from Amazon reviews left by people who tried the detox:
Before you start guzzling lots of ACV, make sure it’s diluted with water. Apple cider vinegar in its pure form is acidic and may erode tooth enamel or even burn your mouth and throat (9). If you do choose to do the detox, be sure to rinse your mouth with water after drinking the vinegar. You may even want to drink it through a straw. Even just one glass a day may be enough to negatively affect your teeth.
ACV may also interact with different medications or supplements you are taking. In particular, it may contribute to low potassium levels if you’re taking diuretics or insulin. If you are on such medications, be sure to let your doctor know if you plan to consume apple cider vinegar regularly or if you plan to try an ACV detox.
People who have tried an apple cider detox do share that you may have some nausea or stomach discomfort after drinking it. This discomfort is usually worse in the morning hours when your stomach is empty.
While there isn’t a huge body of research to suggest ACV is a miracle health cure, the testimonials and reviews you’ll find online can be compelling. Trying an apple cider vinegar detox is likely safe for most people. In the end, the best way to “detox” your body may be to stop taking in sugars and processed foods and eat a healthy diet rich in whole foods — fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. If you’re still interested in ACV, it’s a good idea to check with your doctor before adding this ingredient to your diet, especially if you’re on medications or supplements.