The People's Perspective on Medicine

Apple Cider Vinegar for Acid Reflux

Taking apple cider vinegar for acid reflux may seem like an odd remedy, but it quelled heartburn symptoms and a troublesome cough.

Acid reflux, or gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD), can be terribly painful, and it is often a chronic problem. Millions of people take PPI (proton pump inhibitor) medications such as lansoprazole (Prevacid), omeprazole (Prilosec) or pantoprazole (Protonix) to keep the stomach from over-secreting acid. Others use H2 antagonist drugs such as cimetidine (Tagamet) or ranitidine (Zantac).

All of these medicines reduce acid secretion and are used for bad heartburn. None is perfect, however, and many people would prefer a natural approach. Some turn to home remedies because the drugs were not as effective as they had hoped. That is what this reader did for her husband:

Q. My husband has had acid reflux along with a bad cough for quite some time. He tried Prilosec, Zantac, Tums and other drugs, but nothing worked. It was so bad that he would wake up choking in the middle of the night from it.

Last week he awoke very ill and in so much pain from the reflux that I thought I would have to take him to the ER. I started surfing the internet for a natural remedy for acid reflux. I came across instructions on your website on how to use apple cider vinegar for acid reflux. I followed them and mixed one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with one tablespoon of honey. I dissolved it in hot water and topped it off with cool water.

Apple Cider Vinegar for Acid Reflux:

His excruciating pain stopped almost immediately after drinking it and he was able to fall back to sleep. He has been drinking it every night shortly before retiring to bed for about a week now, and his symptoms have just about disappeared.

He no longer has a choking cough either. It’s like a miracle, and we can’t thank you enough.

A. Using apple cider vinegar for acid reflux seems counterintuitive, but many readers have told us that this remedy can work surprisingly well. We wish we knew why.

We have heard that too little stomach acid can cause reflux, but we have seen no research backing this up. Nor are there studies on apple cider vinegar for heartburn symptoms.

All the same, your husband’s approach seems benign. He should rinse his mouth with plain water and hold off on brushing his teeth for at least half an hour after taking his vinegar and honey mixture. Vinegar can soften the dentine of the teeth so that toothbrush bristles might be too abrasive. After half an hour, though, that should not be a significant problem.

If your husband has not seen a physician about his heartburn, he should schedule a visit. Chronic heartburn might signal a more serious problem that is not being addressed even though the symptoms are no longer troublesome. You’ll find them in our Guide to Digestive Disorders.

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.” .
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Many years ago I saw a TV doctor explaining that stomach acid is there for the purpose of killing bacteria and to aid digestion. Apple cider vinegar helps digestion, allowing food to pass through, and not backing up with reflux. Works for me.

I have been taking Prilosec for almost one year exactly, and then I broke my leg. While lying in bed for six weeks I thought I remembered the doctor saying something about medication leeching the calcium out of your bones. After I started reading about it, with the thought of a huge increase of hip fractures waiting for me, I stopped it instantly. I never thought to wean off of it. My husband started making raspberry tea, and I take 2 teaspoons of natural apple cider vinegar. 1 tablespoon was too much for me and caused a lot of belching . I’ve actually gotten used to the flavor now, and if I go a day without drinking it I start having some real stomach issues so I have to say I’m completely behind apple cider vinegar . 😊

Oops sorry I didn’t edit it’s late — nexium was drug

I had ulcers and hiatal hernia and reflux along with champlobacter – I went to drs got on anitibiotica cleared up chamlobacter but they put me on medium I used it for 3 weeks and said oh no I am not getting hooked on this- went to holistic dr got vitamins including restore for leaky gut (still use) and my favorite go to that works everytime is apple cider vinegar I just take a reasooon or tablespoon burns like hell but god away instantly – my mom told me years ago just stick your finger in the jar and like a little that works too!!

After I went for second end I my ulcer was clear and I was on road to recovery – I try to take two apple cider pills everyday in morning the more consistent I am the less trouble I have – I do t car what anyone says acv
Works and I have told so many people and they can’t believe after trying —if u have stomach complications I suggest holistic dr to get leaky gut under control —

My wife and myself started taking ACV just over a week ago ,we both suffer from acid reflux I’m 73 my wife is 71 I have been taking Lansoprazole for many years my wife has been taking them for a few years, our daughter said try taking ACV and in a short space of time we have seen the difference, we take a tsp in 1/2 a glass of water before breakfast in the mornings, the reflux has stopped for both of us, we started taking it because my sister swears by it for her arthritis, it may be early days yet but will keep you posted and let you know how we get on ,we take unpasteurised with the mother, it’s imported into the uk from Italy. Very interested in the comments on this site.

Sharing my story to help others that may be struggling with the same issues.

I’m currently in my 40s. Since I was in grade school I’ve struggled with acid reflux – popping Tums and Rolaids every night for years, up through college. In my 20s, it got worse and food was getting stuck in my throat when I would eat. I had an endoscopy done and was diagnosed with a hiatal hernia – the doctor put me on Nexium and I’ve been taking it ever since.

It worked like a charm until about 4-5 years ago, where out of nowhere I woke up choking on vile acid, unable to breathe and desperately trying to catch my breath and clear my throat. From there, things got worse – I’ve had many nights of waking up choking and gasping for air, feeling like it’s stuck in my lungs/throat and spending the next hour or two trying to gently cough and clear my throat of the burning/vile acid without throwing up, painful projectile vomiting, and many sleepless nights of sitting up straight to prevent another episode. My throat is likely damaged as I can hear a weezing sound when I deeply exhale.

I’ve heard a lot of conflicting information as to whether GERD is due to too little acid or too much acid. However, what I do know is that once I started taking about 1-2 tablespoons of Braggs apple cider vinegar mixed with honey (for taste) and about 6-8 oz of water each night before bed, I have not experienced any nightly choking episodes. I drink it through a straw to minimize contact with my teeth. I pair this remedy with not eating my known trigger foods late in the evening (like cutoff around 7 pm) – chocolate, tomato based foods, alcohol, ice cream, pasta and cream based sauces, heavy carbs, etc.

Since I travel frequently for work, I also purchased Apple Cider Vinegar pills which are easy to take while on the road. They seem to be just as effective.

Now that I’m more aware of the damage that PPIs can cause when used long term, I hope to ween off and utilize the apple cider vinegar solution, or at least a lower dosage of the PPI and/or one that is less damaging. I’ve tried to stop taking Nexium cold turkey before but that didn’t work out well – so for the time being, I’m continuing to take 40 mg generic Nexium (Esomeprazole) every morning and drink my apple cider vinegar concoction at night. In the meantime I’ve scheduled with a new GI doctor and plan to get an endoscopy and acid test done – and hopefully one day, I will be free of PPIs.

Jen, where do you purchase Apple Cider Vinegar pills.?? I hate vinegar, but would love to come off the omeprazole. It is causing problems with my bones. Would love to try the pills. Thanks, Martha

Hi Jen. Thanks for sharing your story. After learning more about PPIs, I too want to wean off the Prilosec that I have been on for years. I wondered how it was going for you?

Twelve years of chronic heartburn after giving birth at age 39. First 5 years–Tums; next 4 years–Omeprazole (yikes to my kidneys!); next 3 years–300 mg per day of Zantac. This year, 3 separate UTIs (bladder infections) in 3 months. My life was the definition of insanity–doing the same thing over and over same results. Desperately tried ORGANIC apple cider vinegar because anti-biotics were messing my system even worse.
Within days I knocked out my UTI, and I had no idea this would happen, but my heartburn cleared up too.
I started with 1-2 tablespoons organic ACV greatly diluted, a few times a day. Within the week, I cut my doses down. Boiling natural vinegar will kill the enzymes and good stuff your gut needs, so DON’T BOIL IT.
I’ve had zero heartburn meds since I started on organic ACV.
To anyone else, my story is anecdotal, but hooray for me. :-)
Oh, and kefir is good to drink too. I drink the plain flavor with no sugar. Coats your stomach with good bacteria.
Best wishes.

I am no stranger to wring up in the night choking for air because of my acid reflux. I try to sleep with my head higher than my stomach and I do take a script for acid reflux but it helps not cures. Braggs apple cider vingear with cold filtered water with a drop of quality honey will definitely help. It’s also great for losing weight if if have a beer belly which makes acid reflux worse. You can also try Fage Greek yogurt which coats your stomach linings from the acid but don’t take it right before bed because it will make your saliva thick if in the event that you wake up choking.

I am the skeptic’s skeptic when it comes to natural remedies but also don’t like taking conventional medicines. I prefer to fix physical problems with diet and lifestyle changes but want those natural remedies to be backed up by science. Anecdotal evidence isn’t good enough for me. I’ve seen too many examples of natural remedies going awry and resulting in worse problems than they were trying to treat.

Having said that, I had been having reflux problems, and someone told me about ACV. I got online and found that there actually is some scientific evidence that ACV does a number of good things (though some of those studies have only been done in animal trials, not human). I was convinced that giving ACV a try couldn’t hurt anything. I tried mixing it with water first and gagged it all the way down.

The burning and right shoulder pain I had been having stopped that day and I slept through the night without waking up with reflux symptoms. I had to find a better way to take it though. I mixed 1 tablespoon of ACV with 1/4 cup of grape juice over ice and some plain soda water. It is actually palatable and only has 36 calories from the grape juice (with also has antioxidants). Carbonated beverages are, of course, one of the no-nos for reflux sufferers, so use your own judgment on that. It’s not a trigger for me and makes it seem like I’m enjoying a soda, so the benefits outweigh the risks for me. I’m only about a week into my trial, but so far so good. I’m sleeping better and haven’t had nearly the reflux symptoms I was before.

I would love to have the complete directions for the Apple cider/honey remedy for acid reflux. Thanks

I take 2 tsp of ACV in half a cup of warm water twice a day for reflux.

If you add approx. 1/5 tea spoon of carb soda to the water it fizzes up and takes away taste of vinegar. It is quite a pleasant drink.

I usually have this morning and night.

I think that Annie’s comment is correct. I once tried the vinegar cure for my heartburn and ended up in the ER with the worse heartburn I’d ever had. My doctor said vinegar works for those with low stomach acid, but that my taking it had made my reflux and inflamed esophagus worse. His words were something like this: ” Do I have to get out the pictures from your endoscopy last year , to show you again how inflamed your esophagus was? Why would you try vinegar? It’s pure acid. “

I have read that when we age LOW stomach acid is much more likely than too much.

Maybe if there was a drug for low stomach acid we would see that more often.
Apple cider vinegar is OTC and cheap.

My doctor prescribed ranitidine (Zantac) as needed to combat acid reflux. Unfortunately, it takes a while for the medicine to do its job and I am supposed to take it with a full glass of water. It is easier for me, when I wake up at night with heartburn, to reach into the medicine cabinet for a little swig of balsamic vinegar. I get instant relief and can go back to sleep.

I have been getting bad acid reflux couple months, and have been taking some apple cider vinegar with water before I have my meals, and it really works well. Just have to be on a healthy diet, and yes coffee and sweets can trigger acid relux. I hate it so much!!!

I have these reflux problems at times. I take a tablespoon of Prepared Yellow Mustard (2 sometimes) and I can feel the pain going away as it goes down. The sooner the better.
At times when having these problems, I carry a few of the little individual packs of mustard from a restaurant. I can then just open a pack or two and squeeze it in my mouth.

I thank y’all for the item to quell reflux with table spoons of apple cider plus honey. Missing: how much of the water mentioned?

With my Zantac, no particular problems., but I’d like to replace meds with “natural” products whenever possible. Is mornings, other times, just as useful as the cited bed time?


Any corroborating research/info, that says that yellow onions are effective in countering the build up of plaque that obstructs cardiac blood flow in arteries? Is existing plaque impervious to reduction with suitable intakes?

I have said this before, that we are our own worst enemies. Coffee is the worst thing you can drink if you have acid reflux. And, believe it or not, sweets with suger will trigger the reflux. Also raise the head of your bed at least 6″, and don’t eat anything at least 2 hours before you go to bed. And you must be you own doctor with what you eat. ANYTHING that brings on a reflux cut back on it or drop it altogether. Anothter good thing to try is taking a liguid acid reducer just before you go to bed. This has always worked for me and EVERY time I stop, back comes the reflux! What have to got to loose?

Does anyone try ground flaxseed? It works well in reducing pain from my partner’s acid reflux

I had surgery to remove my gall bladder in March. I had horrible issues with it and they found a very diseased bladder during surgery which never was evident through all the months of tests. The surgeon told be to continue to take something over the counter for several months like Omeprazole to heal my stomach and it really helped. He told me to take it twice a day and then slowly wean to one a day then none.

I am having trouble getting off it. I try now to only take it every other day and I have upped my fish oil to four a day. Can one mix the fish oil with the omeprazole? Or can I switch to the vinegar mixture and still use the fish oil? I get a lot of burning and upper right back shoulder pain. My dr says that is from gas produced in the stomach. I try for a very healthy diet with few to no processed foods and small portions. I drink cold brew coffee too. Thoughts???

I read several years ago that when a med is prescribed for stomach acid issues, that often the real cause is LOW acid in the stomach, not too much acid, and to take a spoonful of apple cider vinegar. I’ve been doing that ever since — just a spoonful of ACV followed by glass of water. (Personally, I don’t like drinking a glassful of sour water, but that’s me.) My doc also recommends taking this first thing in the morning every day to aid digestion.

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