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Can You Relieve Heartburn With Vinegar?

Many people have found they can ease heartburn with vinegar. When will scientists study this remedy so we will know whether or how it works?
Spoon of raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar with “mother”.

Some household products turn up time after time in remedies. People have been extremely inventive in finding multiple uses for Vicks VapoRub, Noxzema and Milk of Magnesia. But perhaps no item has been used for more different purposes than apple cider vinegar. Can you ease your heartburn with vinegar?

Trying to Relieve Persistent Heartburn With Vinegar:

Q. For years I took tons of over-the-counter aids such as Zantac or Prilosec and ate Tums like candy. All my family members still do.

Somewhere I came across a tip to drink apple cider vinegar (ACV) to diminish heartburn. That sounded ridiculous, but I decided it was a cheap experiment.

Drinking ACV was gross. However, within less than a week, I noticed less heartburn. I kept it up (drinking about two tablespoons a day). Once it stopped hurting, I switched to ACV pills.

Anyway, it has been 10 years now and I no longer take two or three (300 mg) pills a day. Usually I need them just a few times a week or even a month, but if that old burn starts bubbling up, I swallow three and within an hour I’m all better.

My family members still pour down lots of Tums, Prilosec, and the like because they won’t listen to me. I am the first to admit it seems crazy.

Vinegar as a Remedy for Reflux:

A. We agree that it’s hard to understand how this popular remedy for indigestion is working. Nonetheless, we have heard from many other readers who have found it helpful.

Scientists have not studied this approach to understand how or even whether it works. However, two investigators have written about apple cider vinegar and other remedies for esophageal symptoms (Current Gastroenterology Reports, July 10, 2019). 

They note:

“A substantial gap persists between anecdotal and empirical understandings of the majority of non-pharmacologic remedies for esophageal symptoms. This landscape of popular treatments nevertheless raises several interesting mechanistic hypotheses and compelling opportunities for future research.”

We hope that others will take up their challenge to do the studies that would tell us whether or not you can really relieve heartburn with vinegar.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
Digestive Disorders

Download this guide to getting off heartburn medicine. Preventing ulcers. Effective treatments for constipation and diarrhea. Foods and drugs that cause gas.

Digestive Disorders
  • Ahuja A & Ahuja NK, "Popular remedies for esophageal symptoms: A critical appraisal." Current Gastroenterology Reports, July 10, 2019. DOI: 10.1007/s11894-019-0707-4
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Does this go some way in explaining the low acid cause of reflux? It seems very possible given that some folk find use of apc works for them: https://digestivehealthinstitute.org/2014/07/10/h-pylori-low-stomach-acid-gerd/

Apple cider vinegar goes down easier with a tsp of honey.

It’s possible that they really don’t suffer from heartburn and too much stomach acid but rather not enough stomach acid. I too took Tums after a meal for my indigestion until I came across the book “Eat Right for your Blood Type”. I’m Blood Type A. I now take Betaine Hydrochloride when I eat meat or a heavy meal. Digestive enzymes work great too but the BH helps with my sluggish gallbladder.

Hope it works for me.

I have started using a combination of beet juice and apple cider vinegar. 2 table spoons of apple cider vinegar in about 4 ozs of Beet juice. It has a tang to it but the dirt taste of beet juice is cut by the vinegar, and I do not have heartburn or other digestive problems.

I drink a glass of Aloe Vera juice every day and pretty much have no heartburn. If I run out of juice or forget to take it for a few days the heartburn returns. The juice costs around $7 to $10 per gallon depending on where you buy it.

My husband had heartburn for years, and was completely cured after switching to a gluten-free diet.

Some time ago I started having a lot of heartburn, more than usual. I started thinking about what might be the problem. I have been putting vinegar on my vegetables for lunch and dinner because it gives it a better taste. But I decided to stop the vinegar to see what happens. Things have improved a lot, and I will not use vinegar in the future.

For years I’ve been putting a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in a glass of water to help relieve heartburn, and it works. It was explained to me that the acid in the vinegar raises the stomach acid to the point that it is neutralized.

I recently heard that, counterintuitively, heartburn may be caused by too low acidity in the stomach, allowing the upper stomach sphincter to open, releasing the mildly acidic contents into the esophagus. Perhaps the ACV acts to elevate the acidity in the stomach, signalling the upper sphincter to remain closed?

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