The People's Perspective on Medicine

Is There Science to Support Vinegar for Reflux?

Many people report that a spoonful of vinegar in a glass of water can ease occasional symptoms of reflux. Does it tighten the lower esophageal sphincter?

We love home remedies, but most are based on people’s experience and don’t have any truly scientific explanation for why or how they work. That is why we get excited when we encounter a possible reason. A doctor recently suggested why we might consider using vinegar for reflux.

Taking Vinegar for Reflux Symptoms:

Q. I was listening to your radio show and heard you wondering about the reason that vinegar works for reflux. As a physician, I was told that acid consumption causes the esophageal sphincter to contract, which helps prevent the reflux.

What Is Acid Reflux?

A. Reflux occurs when the sphincter at the junction of the esophagus and the stomach gets lazy. This muscle is supposed to allow food into the stomach but prevent stomach contents from splashing back into the esophagus.

Some medications can loosen the lower esophageal sphincter, which would increase the risk for heartburn. We like your hypothesis that acetic acid (vinegar) might have the opposite effect. We couldn’t find any research to support this approach, however.

How to Use Vinegar for Reflux:

People who take vinegar for reflux usually put a tablespoon or two into a glass of water and drink it. Although some people insist that apple cider vinegar is superior for this remedy, as far as we can tell any vinegar you would put on your salad or in your food will work. Choose what you have on hand and what appeals to your taste buds.

After drinking vinegar, be sure to rinse your mouth with plain water to keep the acid from attacking your tooth enamel. Wait half an hour or a bit longer before brushing your teeth in case the acid softens the enamel temporarily. You don’t want to abrade the surface while it is soft.

Learn More:

You will find many other simple remedies for symptoms of acid reflux in our Guide to Digestive Disorders. People who experience heartburn or other symptoms of reflux several times a week should see their doctors about their digestive problems.

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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. .
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I have acid reflux every night when I go to bed. The other night I decided to drink a teaspoon of white balsamic vinegar in a glass of water before bedtime. Guess what? No reflux all night! I tried it again the next night and again, No Reflux! I recently looked up the problem of having too little acid in the stomach due to age (I’m 64). I had been thinking my acid reflux was due caused by too much acid, so I took baking soda for relief, which didn’t always work for me. This switch-a-roo seems for me anyway to have better and more long lasting (all night) effect. I take one 600mg Apple Cider vinegar capsule every morning with my supplements. Drinking ACV even diluted is torture for me. I really hate the taste of ACV, (hence the capsules). But Balsamic I tolerate nicely. I actually LIKE the flavor of Balsamic white and even the red. And if it does the trick, then I’m going with the Balsamic and even the Rice Wine Vinegar is pleasant tasting to me.

I’ve had GERD for over 15 years. Took omeprazole until my concerns for its safety caused me to stop and switch to 40mg famotidine twice a day. It’s not enough to manage my symptoms so I finally gave raw organic unfiltered apple cider vinegar mixed with water a try.

Sadly, as many have feared, the acid of the vinegar exacerbated the GERD and made it substantially worse. There is no clinical evidence that it works and the acidic nature of vinegar is known to make GERD worse for many people.

I found apple cider vinegar to actually make my GERD worse than red wine vinegar I have used in dressings. I’m very disappointed that it didn’t work for me.

I was taking PPI for my acid reflux and esophagus choking problems. Broke my leg ( never have broken any thing in my life before ) and started reading about how those medicines suck the calcium out of your bones. THAN I ran into a lady at my job who used to work for an attorney and she said all the clients were on PPI’s and they were having their organs shutting down !!!!!

I stopped the pill and started taking apple cider vinegar 2 teaspoons with some Ice and crystal light ( that makes it taste fabulous ) Yea I had 3 hard weeks getting stomach upset getting off the pills and I finished eating at 8 pm each night but after the 3rd week , my stomach problems are gone !!! my belching and gagging is almost gone completely and I have NO MORE acid stomach :)))

I did a bone density test and I am 1 line into Osteoporosis . I think I caught it in time so I take LOTS of calcium. Its worth the 3 awful weeks to get off that poison I was taking

I have GERD which has caused Barretts esophagus and have eaten candied ginger for about 6 months. It has not only helped with my reflux but my digestion has improved. I, too, was eating Tums and anything that would relieve the terrible pain in my chest and the awful indigestion. I have ginger with me at all times. Saved me…

any cure for mucuis . quit a bit of it during the course of the day!

thanks for the info

Regarding Reflux. I recently had to stop taking Omeprazole because I suffered a mini-stroke. The blood thinning tablets (Clopidogrel) I had to take to prevent a further occurrence where negated by the Omeprazole. I have since found that after eating and experiencing reflux, chewing a few almonds completely stops the reflux. I urge everyone who suffers to give this a try.

Try DGL Liquorice chewable tablets. Good to strengthen the oesophagus.

Regarding reflux, DGL Liquorice chewable tablets are good. They also strengthen the Oesophagus which gets damaged by acid resulting in Barratts Oesophagus. “Cancer”.

My partner had severe acid reflux and was going through bottles of antacids on a regular basis. After hearing about the vinegar solution from a PhD pharmacologist who specializes in getting people off medications, he tried it, adding about a shot of Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar to a glass of juice (usually black cherry or blueberry/pomegranate) and drinking this concoction once a day.

Within a month, all his symptoms were gone and he hasn’t bought any antacids since. Now he only drinks it occasionally for maintenance purposes. This remedy works!

ACV as medical therapy goes back to the time of the Ancient Greeks and Hippocrates.
As you age your stomach shrinks in size and is less capable of digesting food.
REFLUX is a name invented by the Pharmaceutical Industry to sell more of their “Little Purple Pills”.
It’s indigestion,as was called that until relatively recently.
We need more acid not less to counteract the problem.
PPI’s (Nexium,Prilosec,Prevacid,and others) stop the stomach’s natural formation of acid on a molecular level and are very dangerous to use.
ACV will alleviate indigestion (reflux) very quickly and is safe to use.

I have read, and our GI doctor confirms, that the sphincter valve between your stomach and your small intestine will not open unless the stomach contents register as acid enough. Without enough acid in your stomach, the food stays in it causing bloating and belching, The valve to the intestine won’t open, and so the stomach contents have nowhere to go but back up the esophagus – reflux!

As a child I would get a stomach ache in the middle of dinner. I had an upper GI and was prescribed a few drops of Belladonna in a glass of water that solved the problem before each meal. I don’t remember how long I took that, but as an adult I was a PPI in it’s infancy for a stomach ache and belching. I have been on them for at least 35 years and need to get off of them disparately. I now am taking one 20 mg every other day. I need help!!

We have been taking 1 tbs of apple cider vinegar/mothers after visiting a liver spec with a friend of ours. said it was a good thing to do daily. does anyone think it should be more than 1 tbs, or heard this is not effective?

Although I’ve heard about this approach to acid reflux, I cannot imagine drinking vinegar. I follow the Acid Watchers Diet (Dr. Jonathan Aviv’s or Dr. Jamie Koufman’s versions). I have had good results healing my esophagus from LPR and GERD.

Is it the carboxylic acid in the vinegar that helps with the reflux?

Does adding honey to to vinegar and water help protect tooth enamel from the vinegar? That is how I drink mine, 50-50 plus warm water.

Huh? If reflux is caused by excess acid in the stomach then how can vinegar, which is an acid, prevent it?

I also have that problem. I am on hydralazine ,substitute for appressoline .Is this one alike rhe ones you have discussed? vera

I often take a little vinegar when I get indigestion, although I don’t think what I’m feeling is reflux. My assumption has always been that the vinegar changes the pH in the stomach. I don’t take anything like the 2 tablespoons that you mention. 1-2 teaspoons in water is plenty for me. I have also started adding a little sweetener to avoid the burning in the throat that the vinegar can cause. Drinking a little water after taking the vinegar water is also a good idea as this flushes the oesophagus as well as rinsing the teeth.

In reading your article about using Vinegar for acid reflux, I would like to share this with you. I was tortured with acid reflux for years. I used Zantac 150 to stop it. Then, I found, “Old Amish Formula For Acid Reflux” at a health food store. It says it guaranteed to stop reflux. I started using it, and YES, it stopped my reflux within 1 minute of taking it. I always thought it tasted just like Balsamic Vinegar. After reading your article, it probably is Balsamic Vinegar. I don’t have reflux any longer. I went on a no bread diet, starting working out, lost 35 pounds, and took 7 inches off my waist. Reflux free for the past nine months. Best home remedy ever!

I take it in pill form. Morning noon and night. Works for the gerds cough or Silent Reflux. Been taking it for years. I honestly don’t care if its proven to work. It works for me. Hubby started coughing after meals. I told him to take one and it took the cough away. Mine is ALWAYs. If I don’t take it I cough like a smoker. And yes, i had a clear chest Xray.

My experience – vinegar works, lemon or lime juice (also acidic) makes it worse. I am not sure this is the answer. But I love that vinegar works.

I think drinking very hot coffee can cause the valve to shrival and over time will not seal causing heart burn

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