Using apple cider vinegar (ACV) as a holistic medicine dates as far back as Hippocrates prescribing it to treat skin infections and common colds over 2,000 years ago. In addition to boosting the immune system, medical research also suggests that a regular intake of ACV can help reduce weight gain, lower high blood sugar levels, and manage cholesterol.
In this article, we discuss the scientific evidence behind ACV, its potential benefits, why it can be beneficial for those with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), and how best to use it according to certified nutritionists.
What Is Apple Cider Vinegar?
ACV is made by crushing apples and allowing the juice to ferment for at least 30 days until it produces acetic acid, which is the main ingredient in vinegar. Organic, or unprocessed ACV also contains matter called ‘mother’, which incorporates various strands of beneficial bacteria, enzymes, and proteins.
What Are the Health Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar?
Apple cider vinegar has been touted to help with an array of conditions from curing diseases to speeding up metabolism. While scientific evidence does not exist to back up every claim, medical studies have shown that ACV can lower blood sugar levels, promote weight loss, kill harmful bacteria, and reduce high cholesterol.
Lower Blood Sugar Levels
One of the most researched aspects of apple cider vinegar is the effect it can have on blood sugar levels and several studies have revealed that it can help to reduce blood sugar levels when consumed before a meal high in carbohydrates.
Those with high blood sugar levels, either due to insulin resistance or the inability to produce insulin, are deemed more at risk of developing type 2 diabetes and its associated complications such as blindness, heart disease, nerve damage, and kidney issues. High blood sugar levels and insulin resistance in women are also linked to PCOS and infertility.
While the most effective way of managing weight is to eat a balanced diet and exercise regularly, daily consumption of apple cider vinegar has been shown to promote further weight loss.
For example, studies based on the efficacy of apple cider vinegar on weight loss revealed that participants who consumed it daily, along with a healthy, low-sugar diet, lost more weight than those who only followed a healthy diet. A further study concluded that participants consuming 30mls of ACV daily had less belly fat and a lower body mass index than those who did not consume ACV.
Because PCOS patients and people with diabetes often struggle with weight gain and belly fat due to insulin resistance, a daily intake of apple cider vinegar is believed to be beneficial in managing the symptoms of both.
High cholesterol levels typically increase the risk of heart disease and strokes and it is estimated that as many as 70% of women who have PCOS also experience elevated cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
Although more research is needed to confirm the effectiveness of ACV in lowering cholesterol levels and reducing the risk of heart disease, a recent 12-week study revealed some positive results. While all participants in the study consumed a healthy, low-sugar diet, one group was given a placebo and the second group was given a daily dose of ACV. Results showed that the second group not only lost more weight but also showed lower levels of total cholesterol and triglycerides.
Interestingly, the group who consumed ACV also showed increased levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, which is often referred to by medical professionals as ‘good cholesterol’ due to its ability to lower the risk of heart problems.
Antifungal & Antibacterial
Due to its antibacterial and antifungal properties, a daily dose of ACV is believed to protect the body against fungal and bacterial infections. Those with diabetes and PCOS, for instance, are considered more susceptible to yeast infections due to high blood sugar levels, and because of recurring infections, patients often become resistant to anti-fungal medication.
One case study into the effects of ACV on yeast infections reports that a female patient suffering from a chronic vaginal candida infection, who was no longer responding to medication, experienced significant reduction of symptoms after the application of apple cider vinegar.
Test tube studies have also identified that the antibacterial properties of ACV are effective in killing bacteria such as Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and resistant Escherichia coli (rE.coli). While another test-tube study showed that ACV could also successfully kill a harmful bacteria called Enterococcus faecalis, which can cause bowel and gut infections.
Hair and Skin Care
While studies into hair care have confirmed that alkaline hair products can damage hair follicles and produce frizzy hair, acidic properties, such as those found in apple cider vinegar are known to condition and strengthen hair.
While there is no concrete evidence to support it, nutritionists encourage women who suffer from bald patches or hair loss with PCOS, which is also a symptom, to apply diluted amounts of ACV to their hair and scalp to promote hair growth.
Apple cider vinegar is also believed to work as a skin toner and acne treatment, as well as help treat skin conditions like eczema and dry skin. Similar to the claims about hair care, there are no evidence-based studies to prove the efficacy of ACV for improving skin conditions.
That said, many holistic medicine practitioners stand by the application of diluted ACV on the skin to improve the protective skin barrier and help rebalance the skin’s natural pH levels.
Bear in mind that ACV should always be diluted before being applied to the skin, hair, or scalp to prevent burning. Furthermore, it is advised that ACV is used merely to clean or wipe the skin rather than leave it on the skin as a balm. (More on this below)
How to Consume & Apply Apple Cider Vinegar
If you’ve been advised to consume apple cider vinegar to help with weight loss, cholesterol, or blood sugar levels, you can incorporate it into your diet by using it as a cooking ingredient, or as a salad dressing. Nutritionists also recommend using organic apple cider vinegar containing ‘mother’ to reap the effects of all ACV nutrients.
If you’d prefer to drink ACV as part of your morning routine, it should be diluted with water to protect the mouth, teeth, and throat from long-term acidic damage. The daily measurements recommended are 1-2 teaspoons (5–10ml) in a large glass of water to begin with. Over a matter of weeks, you can progress to 3-6 teaspoons (15–30ml) in a large glass of water.
As previously mentioned, to avoid skin irritation or burning, ACV should always be diluted with water before applying it to the skin or scalp. The recommended ratio for skin application is 1:4, or 1 tablespoon of ACV to 4 tablespoons of water.
Can Apple Cider Vinegar Cure PCOS?
ACV is believed to help treat many symptoms associated with PCOS, such as lowering blood sugar levels due to insulin resistance, reducing weight gain and belly fat due to high cholesterol, treating the acne that can arise due to high androgen levels, and lowering the risk of yeast infections.
That said, there is no cure for PCOS, so while regular consumption of ACV will certainly help to reduce certain symptoms of PCOS, further support is also needed to manage symptoms for a good quality of life.
For the best results in managing PCOS symptoms with ACV, it should be incorporated into a natural PCOS treatment routine that also includes inositols, a low-sugar diet, and regular exercise. Although inositols can be consumed through certain foods, a specific 40:1 ratio of Myo-inositol and D-Chiro inositol is recommended for PCOS, which can be difficult to consume through diet alone.
This 100% natural inositol supplement from Intimate Rose incorporates the perfect blend of Myo and D-Chiro inositol, as well as added ashwagandha and Vitamin D for further mood support and lower stress levels when living with PCOS.
When taken or applied regularly in diluted form, apple cider vinegar (ACV) can help to spur weight loss, lower blood sugar levels, and manage cholesterol. It is also thought to be helpful for hair care, clearing acne, and treating yeast infections.
To effectively manage PCOS and alleviate its symptoms, female health practitioners recommend adding ACV to your daily care routine, along with regular exercise, a low-sugar diet, and an inositol supplement with the perfect 40:1 blend of Myo-inositol and D-Chiro inositol.
Before trying new remedies, it’s always a good idea to speak with your doctor to check that you know how to use them correctly and ensure that they won’t interact with any other medication you might be taking.
Health – Apple Cider Vinegar - https://www.health.com/benefits-of-apple-cider-vinegar-6826539
Office on Women’s Health - Polycystic ovary syndrome - https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/polycystic-ovary-syndrome
Nutrition By Lovneet - Health Benefits Of Apple Cider Vinegar For PCOS - https://www.nutritionbylovneet.com/blog/health-benefits-of-apple-cider-vinegar-for-pcos
International Journal of Obesity - Influence of the tolerability of vinegar as an oral source of short-chain fatty acids on appetite control and food intake - https://www.nature.com/articles/ijo2013157
National Library of Medicine - Clinical Manifestations of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome and Associations With the Vaginal Microbiome: A Cross-Sectional Based Exploratory Study - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8104084/
Science Direct - Vinegar consumption can attenuate postprandial glucose and insulin responses; a systematic review and meta-analysis of clinical trials - https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0168822716308518
National Library of Medicine - Vaginal Candidiasis Infection Treated Using Apple Cider Vinegar: A Case Report - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29112940/
National Library of Medicine - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33473148/ - Antibacterial apple cider vinegar eradicates methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus and resistant Escherichia coli