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Can apple cider vinegar benefit your stomach?

Laura Harcourt

Written byLaura Harcourt

2 glasses of apple cider vinegar on a grey kitchen surface.
Can taking apple cider vinegar help your stomach? Learn about ACV's benefits for your gut, including how it can aid digestion and bloating, from our guide.
The health benefits of apple cider vinegar are vast, with some using it to support their immune system and others taking apple cider vinegar as a supplement to boost their nutrient levels.

But, whilst the popularity of apple cider vinegar has grown in recent years, apple cider vinegar has been used for thousands of years as a natural remedy. And just one of those uses has been to use apple cider vinegar for a range of stomach concerns, like bloating and even supporting weight loss.

If you're interested in learning more about how apple cider vinegar (ACV) can help your stomach and gut, keep reading as we'll give you the low-down on everything you need to know.

What is apple cider vinegar?

Apple cider vinegar, distinct from the vinegar used in fish and chips, is a product of apple cider fermentation. Bacteria, known as ‘the mother’, along with yeast, ferments the natural sugars in apples. After a while, the cider will turn into alcohol and, after further processing, into the apple cider vinegar we know and love.

There are two types of ACV: with 'mother' and without. ACV with 'mother' retains good bacteria from fermentation, whereas ACV without has been filtered to remove the ‘mother’.

All this means is that apple cider vinegar with 'mother' is full of good bacteria used in the fermentation process as it is not filtered out after production. The 'mother' contains friendly bacteria that may play a key role in supporting digestive health.

Even though apple cider vinegar without the mother has been filtered, it doesn't mean it loses all its properties. But choosing ACV with the mother means you get even more of the good stuff.

The benefits of apple cider vinegar for your stomach

Packed full of good bacteria, this naturally acidic vinegar is thought to have many health benefits, especially regarding your stomach and gut.

It's thought that your brain and your gut are connected. This is sometimes called the gut-brain axis. Your brain and your gut can sometimes respond to each other and can trigger different symptoms.1

Supporting the health of your gut can be beneficial for your overall health and well-being in many ways.

Let's explore how apple cider vinegar may benefit your stomach.

1. Apple cider vinegar may help with bloating

Bloating is a normal stomach process, often caused by gas buildup. You'll likely notice when you're bloated as you may feel a fullness or tightness in your stomach or lower abdomen.2  Bloating is typically caused by one of three things: food intolerances and/or eating habits, hormone fluctuations, or underlying medical conditions.2

The bacterial content of apple cider vinegar is thought to help support the gut microbiome. In 2021, a case study reported that apple cider vinegar was used as part of a combined treatment that included the consumption of 1-2 teaspoons of ACV before meals for gastrointestinal problems. However, because of the combined nature of the treatments given, the researchers could not say for sure, which element of the treatment worked.3

It is really important to understand that there are many causes of bloating. You should always check with a medical professional if you have any concerns, as they can help you figure out the cause.

2. Apple cider vinegar may help with digestion

Many people who take apple cider vinegar believe its acetic acid content may help the body digest food, particularly foods rich in protein.4

Several scientific mechanisms have been suggested for how and why apple cider vinegar might affect digestion, but the research is still very limited.5

A pilot study in 2007 found that apple cider vinegar was effective at increasing gastric emptying, but the trial participants all had type 1 diabetes, so it is not clear if the effects will be the same in people without diabetes.6  Unfortunately, there have not been any further studies on this.

3. Apple cider vinegar may help with weight loss

The use of ACV for weight loss has long been a talked-about topic, with celebrities and wellness influencers worldwide claiming apple cider vinegar is the new weight loss ‘saviour’.

Some research has indeed found that apple cider vinegar was an effective strategy for helping modify diets - alongside other factors such as a healthy balanced diet and moderate exercise - in people who were overweight.7

It is important to note that in these trials, it is not the apple cider vinegar per se that causes the weight loss. Instead, apple cider vinegar contributed to changes within the body, including a decreased appetite, which may lead to weight loss. These research studies also paired apple cider vinegar treatments with reduced calorie diets to study the effects, which may have influenced the findings.

Apple cider vinegar is not a silver bullet, and taking it will not cause dramatic or sudden weight loss by itself. If your aim is to lose weight, you should always look at holistic ways to do so, such as exercising regularly and eating a healthy, balanced diet.

How to take apple cider vinegar for your stomach

There are many ways to take apple cider vinegar, from using it in salad dressings to drinking apple cider vinegar with warm water and lemon juice or taking it as a supplement, like an apple cider vinegar gummy.

It is advised to never drink apple cider vinegar straight as it can damage your tooth enamel and the lining of your throat.8 Instead, it would be best if you always diluted apple cider vinegar first, whether this is mixed into salad dressings with other ingredients or stirred into an existing drink or glass of water.

As a rule, you should limit ACV intake to 2 tablespoons per day, starting with 1 tablespoon or less. It is safe to take apple cider vinegar every day.

The potential side effects of apple cider vinegar

Large ACV amounts may lead to side effects, including tooth enamel erosion, medication interference, decreased potassium, allergic reactions, and throat damage

Erosion of tooth enamel: 

The high acid content in apple cider vinegar could erode the enamel on your teeth over time.9

Try drinking apple cider vinegar through a straw to avoid contact with your teeth, and always make sure it is diluted.

Decreased potassium levels:

Those who saw a decrease in their potassium were found also to be taking certain medications for their heart and sometimes taking common diuretics.10  If you’re taking any form of medication, it's best to speak to your doctor before trying ACV - they will be able to confirm if it is safe for you to take.

Allergic reaction:

Allergies are common, and you might not be aware that you have an allergy to ACV if it is not already part of your diet. If you experience any signs of an allergic reaction after taking apple cider vinegar in any form, such as a rash, trouble breathing or swollen eyes and throat, contact your doctor immediately.

Damage to your throat:

Similarly to the potential to erode your tooth enamel, the high acid content of ACV can cause damage to the soft tissue of the mouth, throat and stomach.11

Always dilute your apple cider vinegar before drinking.

Interfering with medication:

Like any supplement, it is always best to check with a doctor before taking it to ensure you are safe and not taking something that may affect any medication.

The final say

Apple cider vinegar has the potential to be a great inclusion in many people's diets and routines, as there are emerging signs that it could be a versatile and beneficial product.

Unfortunately, there is no miracle cure for any health concern, and no supplement should be viewed as one. Whilst apple cider vinegar has the potential to help with some concerns, some people may notice no changes, or might even experience some side effects.

If you find yourself experiencing discomfort or experiencing any symptoms that you are unsure about, you should always check with a medical professional.


1. Appleton J. The Gut-Brain Axis: Influence of Microbiota on Mood and Mental Health. Integrative medicine (Encinitas, Calif) [Internet]. 2018 [cited 2023 Dec 14];17(4):28–32. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6469458/
2. NHS Choices. Bloating [Internet]. 2023 [cited 2023 Dec 14]. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/bloating/
3. Pistoia JC, Chandler L. Naturopathic approach to functional dyspepsia: A case report. Integrative Medicine: A Clinician's Journal. 2021. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8594970/
4. Acetic Acid: Benefits, Risks, and Uses in Dietary Supplements [Internet]. Digicomply.com. SGS Société Générale de Surveillance SA; 2022 [cited 2023 Dec 14]. Available from: https://www.digicomply.com/dietary-supplements-database/acetic-acid
6. Hlebowicz, J., Darwiche, G., Björgell, O. et al. Effect of apple cider vinegar on delayed gastric emptying in patients with type 1 diabetes mellitus: a pilot study. BMC Gastroenterol. 2007. Available at: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1186/1471-230x-7-46
7. Khezri SS, Saidpour A, Hosseinzadeh N, Amiri Z. Beneficial effects of Apple Cider Vinegar on weight management, Visceral Adiposity Index and lipid profile in overweight or obese subjects receiving restricted calorie diet: A randomized clinical trial. Journal of functional foods. 2018. Available at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1756464618300483/
8. Inés Willershausen, Weyer V, Schulte DJ, Lampe F, Buhre S, Brita Willershausen. In Vitro Study on Dental Erosion Caused by Different Vinegar Varieties Using an Electron Microprobe. Clinical Laboratory [Internet]. 2014 Jan 1 [cited 2023 Dec 14];60(05/2014). Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24839821/
10. Martini N. Apple cider vinegar. Journal of Primary Health Care. 2021. Available at: https://www.publish.csiro.au/hc/fulltext/hc19561?crsi=6624972164&cicada_org_src=healthwebmagazine.com&cicada_org_mdm=direct
11. Kousar M, Manzoor B, Rafiq A, Jabeen A. A perfect detoxifying drink–Apple cider vinegar. Just Agric. 2022. Available at: https://justagriculture.in/files/newsletter/2022/march/01.pdf

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