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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?
Can You Relieve Heartburn With Vinegar?
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. .
  • 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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