Avoid These 6 Common Mistakes When Using Apple Cider Vinegar

apple cider vinegar
Are you making these common mistakes when using apple cider vinegar?. Cathy Wong

Apple cider vinegar has many uses, from flavorful food ingredient to home remedy to all-purpose cleaner. It's one of those products, like coconut oil, that has multiple uses extending beyond the kitchen.

Related: 12 Clever Ways to Use Apple Cider Vinegar

While a little now and then may not be a problem for many people, apple cider vinegar is acidic (like other vinegars) and can be problematic for some.

Read on to avoid these common mistakes when using apple cider vinegar.

1)  You Apply Undiluted Apple Cider Vinegar to Skin

Apple cider vinegar is sometimes used as a homemade skin toner, sunburn soother, natural deodorant, and many other health purposes. It contains acetic acid and other acids, which have the potential to cause skin irritation and chemical burns. Whether it results in a burn or irritation depends on the concentration, duration of contact, and the type of skin tissue.

Tip: Always dilute apple cider vinegar before applying it to skin and take necessary precautions to avoid getting it in your eyes or on delicate skin. Even if it is diluted, apple cider vinegar may be problematic for certain skin types or conditions, such as sensitive or dry skin, eczema-prone skin, open wounds, burns, or irritated skin. It's best to always do a small patch test first before using it.

2)  You Drink It Straight (Or Use A Lot Of It)
Apple cider vinegar is a popular ingredient in homemade beverages for indigestion, weight loss, and other conditions.

Some sources recommend taking it by the spoonful, however, apple cider vinegar's acidity may result in mouth and throat irritation or burns. According to one report, a person who got a piece of crab shell stuck in her throat ingested one tablespoon of vinegar in an attempt to dissolve it, resulting in throat inflammation and second-degree caustic burns in the esophagus.

Apple cider vinegar has also been found to cause corrosive injury to the gastrointestinal tract of animals.

Tip: Apple cider vinegar should always be diluted with liquids or mixed with food before swallowing. A sensible guideline would be to have an amount you would normally eat in a meal (typically one teaspoon or less) diluted in one cup of water and taken with a meal. It's also wise to check with your health care provider first before using apple cider vinegar on a regular basis or for health purposes.

3)  You Use Apple Cider Vinegar On Your Teeth (Or As A Mouthwash)
Regularly exposing teeth to direct contact with acidic substances, such as apple cider vinegar, may soften tooth enamel. Although many foods contain vinegar, lemon juice, and other acidic substances, apple cider vinegar is sometimes touted as a remedy for tooth and mouth conditions and used in concentrations and amounts greater than what's found in, say, a salad or side of pickles. For example, some sites suggest applying apple cider vinegar directly to teeth or using it as a mouthwash.

Tip: It's best to minimize the amount of vinegar that comes in contact with the teeth and avoid regular direct exposure. Although some sources say that brushing your teeth after vinegar use can reduce the amount of vinegar that comes in contact with the teeth, other sources say that brushing may abrade the softened enamel. It's best to consult your dentist before using it on your teeth.

4)  You Use Apple Cider Vinegar Tablets Or Pills
Apple cider vinegar tablets are used in alternative medicine for various purposes, but there is some concern that they may get lodged in the throat (causing prolonged exposure to apple cider vinegar) or cause damage elsewhere in the gastrointestinal tract. 

Although vinegar is typically around 5% acetic acid, there is quite a range in tablets from 1% to 10.57% acetic acid according to one laboratory analysis. The advertised amounts are as high as 35% acetic acid. Apple cider vinegar can also contain other acids in varying amounts.

Related: The Health Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar

According to one report, a women who had an apple cider vinegar tablet lodged in her throat for 30 minutes developed tenderness and pain in the throat area and difficulty swallowing for six months after the incident. 

Tip: Although using a little apple cider vinegar in food may offer some health benefits, there is a lack of evidence supporting the use of apple cider vinegar in tablet or pill form for any health purpose. If you're considering using them, talk with a qualified health care provider first.

5)  You Take It With Certain Medications
When taken regularly in large enough amounts, apple cider vinegar could theoretically interact with many common medications, such as laxatives, diuretics, and medications for diabetes and heart disease.

Apple cider vinegar may lower blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. 

Apple cider vinegar may also lower potassium levels. According to one report, a person developed low potassium and osteoporosis after taking 250 mL of apple cider vinegar daily for six years. Because there haven't been studies on the safety of apple cider vinegar as a health supplement, it's possible that even smaller amounts can conceivably cause problems. Lowered potassium levels are of particular concern for people taking digoxin (Lanoxin®), diuretics, insulin, and other medications, possibly decreasing potassium levels too much and resulting in symptoms such as constipation, weakness, muscle cramps, and abnormal heart rhythms.

Tip: If you take any medication or supplement and are considering using apple cider vinegar regularly or for any health purpose, be sure to talk with your doctor first to make sure it won't interact with any medications you're presently taking.

6)  You Use It But Have Certain Health Conditions

Although apple cider vinegar offers a number of health benefits, it's not right for everyone. While some people claim that apple cider vinegar relieves their heartburn symptoms, it's important to note that there haven't been any clinical trials to support using it for heartburn. Apple cider vinegar is an acidic substance and may irritate or damage the lining of the gastrointestinal tract.

Related:  7 Remedies for Heartburn Relief

Tip:  Be sure to speak with a qualified health care provider if you have a health condition and are considering using apple cider vinegar regularly. People with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), ulcers, and other conditions affecting the gastrointestinal tract should be particularly cautious. Since apple cider vinegar may reduce potassium levels if used regularly in large enough amounts, people with chronic diarrhea and other conditions that may lead to lowered potassium levels should also use caution. 

Sources

Bunick CG, Lott JP, Warren CB, Galan A, Bolognia J, King BA. Chemical burn from topical apple cider vinegar. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2012 Oct;67(4):e143-4. doi: 10.1016/j.jaad.2011.11.934.

Hill LL, Woodruff LH, Foote JC, Barreto-Alcoba M. Esophageal injury by apple cider vinegar tablets and subsequent evaluation of products. J Am Diet Assoc 2005;105:1141-4. 

Lhotta K1, Höfle G, Gasser R, Finkenstedt G.  Hypokalemia, hyperreninemia and osteoporosis in a patient ingesting large amounts of cidervinegar. Nephron. 1998 Oct;80(2):242-3.

Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician. It is not meant to cover all possible precautions, drug interactions, circumstances or adverse effects. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making a change to your regimen.

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