I can see you scratching your head in puzzlement: Apple Cider Vinegar as a remedy for acid reflux? What has the world come to?
Suspend your disbelief and give our beloved hard-working cure-all the benefit of the doubt. It may just be that ACV can add 'managing stomach acid' to its CV! We're going to examine a few of the facts and theories surrounding the effect of ACV on acid reflux. We'll discover some of the reasons why fighting fire with fire, or in this case, acid with acid, can actually work.
Before we get started, though, a few disclaimers. There is no scientific, peer-reviewed evidence regarding the benefits of ACV for acid reflux. The theories are developed based on what we know about ACV's composition and effects in other areas, and anecdotal evidence from people who use ACV regularly.
Furthermore, while people with low-to-mild acid reflux report positive results, those suffering from more intense symptoms actually said that ACV made it worse. So try out this home-remedy with care and caution if you think your symptoms might be severe.
Now that that's out of the way, let's jump in!
Acid Reflux? Heartburn? GERD? What's the Difference?
What do we mean when we say ACV can help with acid reflux? And can it also help with heartburn? Many of these terms are used interchangeably, but they are, in fact, slightly different.
Acid Reflux is the unpleasant phenomenon whereby the stomach contents, and stomach acids, retreat back up the oesophagus. This long tube, which connects our throat to our stomach, is not equipped to handle high levels of acidity. Their presence causes a burning sensation in the chest (known as heartburn) and a sour taste in the back of the throat.
It's thought to be caused by a malfunction in the oesophagal sphincter, which usually ensures that food travels down into the stomach, and only air (burping and the like) travels back up. However, if the muscles relax at the wrong time, your stomach contents can progress back up towards your throat.
Heartburn is one of the most common symptoms of acid reflux. And it sounds better, at the dinner table, to say 'I have heartburn' than 'my stomach acid is refluxing.'
GERD, or Gastroesophageal reflux disease, refers to frequent or regular acid reflux issues. If reflux and heartburn occur more than twice a week, it could be the sign of a more severe condition.
How Can ACV Help?
So how can throwing acid on top of acid possibly help? The magic lies in the specific type of acid found in ACV: acetic acid. This is the source of many of ACV's benefits, from its anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties to lowering blood pressure. Most importantly, it has an alkaline effect, helping to balance out the body's pH.
Improve Your Digestion
ACV is known to aid in digestion, thanks to the action of acetic acid in the stomach. It stimulates more production of the enzyme pepsin, which breaks down proteins, and enhances the effect of stomach acid. By assisting in the breakdown and absorption of nutrients, ACV can help maintain regular digestion, food fermentation and gas production. This promotes the healthy functioning of the whole digestive system - including that oesophagal sphincter.
Give Your Stomach Acid a Helping Hand
In some cases, acid reflux is actually caused by insufficient levels of stomach acid. Known as hypochlorhydria, this condition causes altered digestion, food fermentation and gas production, which can all lead to oesophagal sphincter malfunctions. Boosting low stomach acid with ACV is a great way to give your body a hand in regulating the digestive system. It ensures all functions are performed as smoothly as possible.
Neutralise Stomach Acid
So ACV can help stomach acids do their job. On the other hand, its alkaline effects also mean that it neutralises the effect of stomach acids when they move into the oesophagus. By rebalancing the low pH caused by acid reflux, ACV can reduce the severity of symptoms, like heartburn.
ACV is a real superhero when it comes to gut health and bacterial management. Gentle on good bacteria but merciless on bad bacteria, it regulates the bacterial populations in your stomach so that your flora is working for you, rather than against you. In this way, the whole digestive process is kept smooth and reflux-free.