Apple Cider Vinegar For Allergies: Does It Really Work?

Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is one of the most common features of articles that discuss natural remedies for common illnesses and allergies. This naturally acidic liquid, which is made from fermented apples, has been hailed as a treatment for skin issues and a wide range of health conditions, including allergies, but does it really work? The answer is that the jury is out. In this guide, we’ll take a closer look at the evidence. 

How does apple cider vinegar help with allergies?

There is limited scientific data to support the efficacy of apple cider vinegar as a treatment for allergies. Some people believe that ACV is a good natural remedy for allergies. On this side of the argument, there is a small number of studies that highlight the potential benefits of using apple cider vinegar for allergies. These studies focus on boosting immunity and reducing inflammation.

A study conducted in 2017 revealed that adding ACV with probiotics to carp diets increased the volume of protective enzymes and stimulated antibody production. These changes were detected in mucus samples and suggest that if results were replicated in humans, there could be benefits for allergy sufferers. The major limitation of this study is that it evaluates the impact on fish. Further research is required to determine whether humans experience a similar response. 

There is scientific evidence to support the notion that ACV can reduce inflammation. However, there are not many studies available and those that are accessible are either relevant to non-human subjects or they have a very small pool of participants. A study conducted on rats suggests that apple cider vinegar can lower blood pressure. A small study of 13 subjects indicates that ACV can lower glycaemic and insulinemic responses in healthy individuals. 

The American Sinus Institute suggests that apple cider vinegar is likely to contribute to placebo effects, as there is no evidence to confirm that it benefits people with allergies. 

What are the benefits of apple cider vinegar?

Apple cider vinegar is a popular household product, which is used to treat a wide range of minor ailments and improve general health. Studies suggest that it offers the following benefits:

  • Lowering blood sugar levels and helping individuals to manage type 2 diabetes. A US study found that drinking apple cider vinegar at bedtime reduced waking glucose concentrations. 
  • Cleansing and clearing out the lymph nodes
  • Aiding weight loss by making people who want to lose weight feel fuller
  • Lowering cholesterol to reduce the risk of heart disease: studies in this area are relevant to animals. Further research is required to determine the health benefits for humans.

Are there any risks of using apple cider vinegar?

In the vast majority of cases, it is perfectly safe to drink apple cider vinegar or use it as a natural home remedy. However, it is important to be aware of potential risks that apply to some individuals. These include:

  • Increased risk of skin irritation: there are reports that apple cider vinegar can improve skin health, but this is not always the case. Research suggests that ACV can be harmful in cases where the skin is broken or damaged. Topical application can cause chemical burns and irritation. 
  • Drug interactions: if you take medication regularly, or you are currently undergoing treatment, it’s important to seek advice from your doctor before you use apple cider vinegar for allergies or any other illnesses or ailments. ACV can interact with some drugs, including insulin. 
  • Enamel erosion: acidic substances can weaken and erode the tooth enamel, increasing the risk of cavities and tooth sensitivity. 
  • Elevated risk of acid reflux: acidic foods and liquids increase the risk of acid reflux. If you are susceptible to acid reflux, or you have a digestive condition or kidney problems, speak to your doctor. 

What are the best natural remedies for allergies?

More than 50 million people in the US have allergies. The most common allergies include hay fever (allergic rhinitis) and allergies to pet dander, dust mites, food, insect stings and bites and specific drugs. The best natural remedies for allergies include:

  • Identifying and avoiding triggers: the best way to prevent or reduce the severity of symptoms is to avoid exposure to triggers. 
  • Good hygiene: good hygiene, including frequent showering and hand washing, can help you reduce exposure to allergens.
  • Saline irrigation: saline nasal irrigation can provide a solution for hay fever sufferers of all ages. 
  • Butterbur: butterbur, a shrub known as Petasites hybridus, has been hailed as an alternative to antihistamines for people who have seasonal allergies. It is particularly beneficial for itchy, irritated eyes.
  • Acupuncture: researchers from the University Medical Centre in Berlin found that acupuncture improved hay fever symptoms. 

When to see a doctor

Allergies affect people in different ways. Some people develop mild symptoms sporadically while others experience very serious reactions to allergens. If you have symptoms you’ve never experienced before, your symptoms have become more severe, or your allergy is impacting your day-to-day life, seek advice. Diagnosing specific allergies and pinpointing triggers enables individuals to reduce exposure and access treatment options. If you have a minor allergy, you may not need treatment. If you have severe symptoms, your doctor can discuss options with you. 

Get help from an online doctor

If you have questions or concerns about allergies, or you’re unsure whether you have symptoms of an allergy or not, online doctors can help. Whether you need information about treatment options, natural remedies or symptoms to watch out for, you can speak to your online doctor. 

Key takeaways

Apple cider vinegar is a very popular home remedy. There is a lot of information online about using apple cider vinegar to treat ailments and illnesses. However, there is limited scientific evidence to support ACV as an effective remedy for allergies. 

Studies that are used to outline the benefits of apple cider vinegar for allergies are very small or they have limitations because they have non-human subjects. 

There are treatments and therapies available for most allergies. If you have an allergy and you need advice about treatment options and self-help or natural remedies, speak to your doctor. 

Sources:

  • Roghieh Safari, Seyed Hossein Hoseinifar, Shabnam Nejadmoghadam, Mohsen Khalili, Apple cider vinegar boosted immunomodulatory and health promoting effects of Lactobacillus casei in common carp (Cyprinus carpio), Fish & Shellfish Immunology, Volume 67, 2017, Pages 441-448, ISSN 1050-4648, Available from: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fsi.2017.06.017.
  • Shino KONDO, Kenji TAYAMA, Yoshinori TSUKAMOTO, Katsumi IKEDA & Yukio YAMORI (2001) Antihypertensive Effects of Acetic Acid and Vinegar on Spontaneously Hypertensive Rats, Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry, 65:12, 2690-2694, DOI: 10.1271/bbb.65.2690
  • Leeman, M., Östman, E. & Björck, I. Vinegar dressing and cold storage of potatoes lowers postprandial glycaemic and insulinaemic responses in healthy subjects. Eur J Clin Nutr 59, 1266–1271 (2005). https://doi.org/10.1038/sj.ejcn.1602238 
  • Johnston CS, Buller AJ. Vinegar and peanut products as complementary foods to reduce postprandial glycemia. J Am Diet Assoc. 2005 Dec;105(12):1939-42. doi: https://www.doi.org/10.1016/j.jada.2005.07.012. PMID: 16321601.
  • Fushimi T, Suruga K, Oshima Y, Fukiharu M, Tsukamoto Y, Goda T. Dietary acetic acid reduces serum cholesterol and triacylglycerols in rats fed a cholesterol-rich diet. Br J Nutr. 2006 May;95(5):916-24. doi: https://www.doi.org/10.1079/bjn20061740. PMID: 16611381.
  • Martini Nataly (2021) Apple cider vinegar. Journal of Primary Health Care 13, 191-192. Available from: https://doi.org/10.1071/HC19561 
  • Hermelingmeier KE, Weber RK, Hellmich M, Heubach CP, Mösges R. Nasal irrigation as an adjunctive treatment in allergic rhinitis: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Rhinol Allergy. 2012 Sep-Oct;26(5):e119-25. doi: https://www.doi.org/10.2500/ajra.2012.26.3787. PMID: 23168142; PMCID: PMC3904042.
  • Brinkhaus B, Ortiz M, Witt CM, Roll S, Linde K, Pfab F, Niggemann B, Hummelsberger J, Treszl A, Ring J, Zuberbier T, Wegscheider K, Willich SN. Acupuncture in patients with seasonal allergic rhinitis: a randomized trial. Ann Intern Med. 2013 Feb 19;158(4):225-34. doi: https://www.doi.org/10.7326/0003-4819-158-4-201302190-00002. PMID: 23420231.
  • Butterbur. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Available from: https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/butterbur 
  • Apple cider vinegar shown to significantly reduce post-meal blood glucose, Diabetes.co.com. Available from: https://www.diabetes.co.uk/news/2020/aug/apple-cider-could-help-manage-type-2-diabetes.html 
  • Allergy Facts and Figures, Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Available from: https://www.aafa.org/allergy-facts/

DrHouse articles are written by MDs, NPs, nutritionists and other healthcare professionals. The contents of the DrHouse site are for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you are experiencing high fever (>103F/39.4C), shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, chest pain, heart palpitations, abnormal bruising, abnormal bleeding, extreme fatigue, dizziness, new weakness or paralysis, difficulty with speech, confusion, extreme pain in any body part, or inability to remain hydrated or keep down fluids or feel you may have any other life-threatening condition, please go to the emergency department or call 911 immediately.

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