Arthritis is an inflammatory condition that causes pain and swelling in the joints, which can restrict mobility and damage the joints.
Arthritis medications are usually effective, though some people also look to alternative treatments to relieve their symptoms, including apple cider vinegar.
Apple cider vinegar is a traditional home remedy that some people use to treat a variety of conditions from nausea to skin conditions. But does it work for arthritis, and is it safe?
Can apple cider vinegar help with arthritis?
Apple cider vinegar may help treat arthritis symptoms.
Some people find that drinking a small amount of diluted apple cider vinegar can help with their arthritis symptoms.
However, there is not enough evidence to suggest that it works, and the Arthritis Foundation have included apple cider on their list of food myths about arthritis.
Despite the lack of scientific evidence, we take a look at some ways that apple cider vinegar might work for arthritis symptoms.
Inflammation in the joints is the primary cause of pain, swelling, and sometimes, permanent joint damage in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Other forms of arthritis involve much lower levels of inflammation, including osteoarthritis (OA).
Many people use standard anti-inflammatory medications, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), to control inflammation. Some people also include specific anti-inflammatory foods in their diet to manage their symptoms.
However, supporters of apple cider vinegar believe that it contains anti-inflammatory properties that can help with arthritis symptoms, including pain and swelling, in the same way that medication does.
However, there is no scientific evidence that apple cider vinegar is an effective anti-inflammatory agent in humans, or that it can help treat arthritis symptoms. This means it is difficult to know what effects it has.
Apple cider vinegar also contains pectin. Some people think that pectin can absorb specific toxins that have built up and contributed to their symptoms.
However, according to the Arthritis Foundation, there is no research that shows whether or not pectin can help with arthritis pain.
Apple cider vinegar and weight loss
The use of apple cider vinegar for weight loss requires further research.
People with arthritis may find relief in their symptoms by maintaining a healthy weight, as this reduces the pressure on their joints.
Apple cider vinegar may help people with arthritis to lose weight.
Some research has suggested that vinegar, including apple cider vinegar, can help to control blood sugar levels and contribute to weight loss. However, the study showed mixed results, and further research is needed.
Is it safe to drink apple cider vinegar?
While the benefits of apple cider vinegar are unclear at this stage, it is relatively safe to drink. However, it is very acidic, so it is important to dilute it first.
Apple cider vinegar may interact with certain types of medication, such as diabetes medications.
For many people taking apple cider vinegar, the risk of adverse effects is low but side effects can include:
- digestive issues
- erosion of tooth enamel
- skin problems
- throat irritation
Other home remedies for arthritis
Tart cherry juice is an alternative remedy to apple cider vinegar.
Many people find that regular exercise, which keeps the joints active and improves joint flexibility, can have wide-ranging effects on their arthritis symptoms.
People with inflammatory arthritis may also benefit from following an anti-inflammatory diet.
Along with these lifestyle changes, people can try alternative home remedies. Some of these home remedies for arthritis are backed up with more evidence than apple cider vinegar. These include:
Cherries contain a range of antioxidants that could be useful for controlling inflammation in arthritis.
In a small-scale 2012 study, 20 women with inflammatory OA were given tart cherry juice or a placebo cherry drink to consume twice a day for 21 days. The researchers found that the women who drank the tart cherry juice had significantly reduced levels of one of the markers that indicate inflammation.
A 2013 study also found that drinking tart cherry juice each day for 6 weeks improved osteoarthritis symptoms. However, there was no significant difference between the cherry tart group and the placebo group.
Another natural alternative to apple cider vinegar is yoga.
A study published in 2013 compared the impact of a 6-week yoga intervention in women with RA. They found that yoga had a range of benefits, including reducing pain and fatigue, while improving quality of life.
Some people find that apple cider vinegar improves their arthritis symptoms, though there is no current research to support its use.
There are some findings to suggest that tart cherry juice could be a good alternative to apple cider vinegar, but further research is needed to confirm this.
A range of other natural approaches, such as yoga could also have benefits for people with arthritis.
Although diluted apple cider vinegar is relatively safe to consume, people with certain conditions, such as diabetes, should talk to their doctor before drinking apple cider vinegar.