Apple Cider Vinegar for Digestive Health

If you do an internet search for the health benefits of apple cider vinegar (ACV), you'll come across a plethora of health benefits and personal stories of how this magical elixir has helped people in their health journey. ACV has been reported to help people with everything from weight loss to treating a sore throat. Although there are indeed many benefits, I wanted to share the number one reason that I recommend ACV in my practice.

Low Stomach Acid

Low stomach acid, or hypochlorhydria, is more common than you might think, and the symptoms can be wide ranging. On of the most common symptoms is GERD or acid reflux. You may be thinking "isn't that caused by too much stomach acid??" Well, in some cases it is, but in many cases it is actually due to not having enough stomach acid.

The reason that low stomach acid can cause GERD is that the sphincter between your stomach and esophagus, the lower esophageal sphincter or LES, requires stomach acid to keep it closed. If you are not producing enough stomach acid, the sphincter stays open, and the stomach acid that is in your stomach can rise up into the esophagus, causing heart burn or indigestion. Ouch.

As a naturopathic doctor, I look for the root cause(s) of an individual's health concern. And low stomach acid can be one of the underlying/root causes of a variety of health conditions. For example, people who do not have enough stomach acid are unable to properly digest their food and may end up with low levels of protein, B12 and iron. Not to mention that they may end up with gas and bloating from improperly digested food, dysbiosis or SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth). Other health conditions associated with low stomach acid include osteoporosis, autoimmune disease, allergies and rosacea. 

When I want to support a patient who likely has low stomach acid, I usually recommend starting with 1 teaspoon of ACV in 4-6 oz of water 15 minutes before each meal.

Always work with a health care provider to determine whether or not you should be taking ACV for your digestive issues because, for some people who actually make too much stomach acid, the ACV could be very aggravating. If you have a peptic ulcer ACV is not for you. Also, if you experience worsening GERD with ACV, discontinue as you likely have high, not low, stomach acid.

Remember that ACV is acidic, which means that it can erode the enamel on your teeth if allowed to remain in your mouth for too long. For that reason, I always recommend that it be taken diluted and I recommend rinsing your mouth out with water after taking it. 

Finally, I always recommend unpasteurized/raw, organic ACV. My favorite go-to brand, that can be found in most health food stores is Bragg Organic Raw ACV (no affiliation).

If you want to hear more  about how I use apple cider vinegar in my practice, check out the video, below!

In health.
Dr. Khaira