Medical News Today: Can apple cider vinegar help relieve constipation?

Apple cider vinegar is a popular home remedy for many health issues. Some believe that it can relieve constipation, but there is a lack of research on its safety and effectiveness.

Constipation is a common condition in which a person has fewer than 3 bowel movements in a week. The stool is often firm and lumpy, and it can be painful to pass.

Some people are interested in trying home remedies before turning to medication to relieve constipation.

Read on to discover more about the effectiveness of apple cider vinegar in treating constipation.

Does apple cider vinegar work for constipation?

Apple cider vinegar and apples
There is no scientific evidence to suggest that apple cider vinegar can relieve constipation.

Many health websites make claims about how effective apple cider vinegar is. However, there is no scientific evidence to support the theory that apple cider vinegar helps relieve constipation.

Some people believe that apple cider vinegar has this effect because it contains large amounts of pectin, which is a soluble dietary fiber. A lack of fiber is a common cause of constipation.

The acidity of the vinegar may also act as a natural laxative to improve people's digestion.

A 2017 study published in the Natural Product Research journal notes that there is a lack of research on how effective apple cider vinegar is as a home remedy.

The researchers found that apple cider vinegar showed promising antimicrobial effects, but acknowledged that more research is necessary to determine how beneficial it might be for various health conditions.

How to use apple cider vinegar for constipation

As there is very limited clinical evidence to support the use of apple cider vinegar as a treatment, there are no guidelines on dosage. Many people who use apple cider vinegar will drink a small amount on a regular basis when they are constipated.

People should consult a doctor before starting to consume more apple cider vinegar than they would as part of their regular diet.

Some proponents of apple cider vinegar suggest mixing about a tablespoon of the vinegar with a cup of warm water and drinking the mixture up to twice a day to relieve constipation.

Is it safe?

Apple cider vinegar is available as a food product at most grocery stores.

However, there are no studies that indicate how much of this vinegar it is safe to consume.

People who experience adverse side effects after trying apple cider vinegar should avoid having it again.

Apple cider vinegar can interact with various medications and make them less effective. Therefore, people taking medication should always speak to a doctor before using this remedy.

Possible side effects

woman with stomachache holding belly on bed
A possible side effect of apple cider vinegar is gas and bloating.

Apple cider vinegar is acidic, which means that it could irritate the stomach, especially in people who have an ulcer or a sensitive stomach.

Some other possible side effects include:

  • gas and bloating
  • headaches
  • acne or skin redness
  • lower levels of potassium, which can lead to additional symptoms
  • mouth irritation and tooth damage

Apple cider vinegar may cause additional side effects if it reacts with a medication. People using other medicines should not try apple cider vinegar without discussing it with a doctor first.

Other natural remedies for constipation

The two main causes of constipation are dehydration and inadequate fiber in the diet. Constipation can also arise as a side effect of certain medical conditions and medications.

Drinking plenty of water and eating enough fiber can relieve constipation in many cases.

There are also several potential remedies that people may want to try at home to treat constipation. However, as with apple cider vinegar, there is a lack of research to support some of these remedies.

Natural ways to try relieving constipation include:

  • using senna, which is an herbal laxative
  • eating foods that are high in prebiotics, such as garlic
  • eating more fiber
  • drinking caffeinated coffee
  • exercising regularly
  • eating prunes
  • avoiding dairy products
  • taking probiotics, either in foods or as supplements
  • trying a tailored diet plan for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

People can also use over-the-counter (OTC) laxatives that research has proven to reduce constipation, including magnesium citrate. It is best to consult a doctor before using OTC laxatives.

Outlook

There is insufficient research on apple cider vinegar to confirm its safety and effectiveness as a treatment for constipation.

Some people may find that drinking diluted apple cider vinegar helps them have a bowel movement, but research does not support the effectiveness of this remedy.

People can try a wide range of other natural remedies instead of apple cider vinegar. These include drinking more water and increasing the amount of fiber in the diet.

People who are interested in trying apple cider vinegar to reduce constipation should consult their doctor.

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