Can apple cider vinegar cause ulcers?
This brief guide will address the query “Can apple cider vinegar cause ulcers?” Also, we’ll discuss how and why apple cider vinegar may cause ulcers, what ulcers are, how to treat ulcers caused by apple cider vinegar, and how to prevent apple cider vinegar from giving you ulcers.
Can apple cider vinegar cause ulcers?
Yes, apple cider vinegar, if ingested regularly and with very little watering down, may induce lesions in the throat, esophagus, and digestive tract that can worsen with each consumption and may become ulcers.
In some patients who already present digestive troubles such as acid reflux and ulcers, apple cider vinegar may worsen symptoms and discomfort, and may even lead to serious injuries that may require medical intervention. (1)
How can apple cider vinegar cause ulcers?
Apple cider vinegar is made up of various organic acids, but notably, it contains acetic acid, which, if consumed regularly, may inflict chemical burns on tissue such as skin, membranes of the throat, and digestive tract.
Apple cider vinegar is derived from the fermentation of apples through a biotechnological process involving double fermentation: alcoholic and acetic. It possesses an acidity level of around 5% and a pH ranging between 2.5 and 3.0.
At a molecular level, acetic acid corrodes the membranes of the cells and causes damage by exposing their contents. Cells without membranes cannot properly function and as a result, they die out, and their exposed components begin to break down, causing lesions. (2, 3)
What are ulcers?
Ulcers for their part, are sores (lesions) on the lining of the digestive tract and are commonly preceded by a prefix that describes their location.
For example, some lesions may occur in the esophageal (on the esophagus), peptic (in the stomach), duodenal (on the upper portion of the small intestine), etc.
Most commonly, ulcers are caused by Helicobacter pylori (a type of bacteria) infection. However, the prolonged use of some medications such as aspirin and ibuprofen is also known to cause ulcers, and in some cases, foods high in acid may contribute and make symptoms worse.
Symptoms of ulcers may include:
- A rapidly achieved feeling of satiety (feeling full)
- Stomach aches
- Discomfort between meals and when eating or drinking
- Discomfort that may last for minutes or hours, in episodes that come and go for days at a time.
More serious symptoms include
- Bleeding into the digestive tract- which can be vomited or defecated
- Unexplained weight loss
- Severe pain in the abdominal area and back.
These last symptoms may indicate that an ulcer has ruptured, which constitutes a medical emergency, that if left untreated, may even be fatal. (4, 5)
How can I treat ulcers caused by apple cider vinegar?
Ulcers of any nature should be treated by a medical professional, such as a general practitioner, or a specialist such as a gastroenterologist.
A doctor will invariably recommend patients lessen or altogether eschew their consumption of apple cider vinegar, regardless of whether or not it is the sole causative agent.
The acidic nature of apple cider vinegar will not contribute to an improvement of ulcers and should be regarded carefully by patients diagnosed with ulcers.
As for treatment doctors will prescribe proton pump inhibitors, to reduce acid reflux and treat discomfort. Additionally, they may prescribe additional medication if H. pylori is also a suspected causative agent, and require that the patient conclude a course of antibiotic treatment.
Also, doctors will veer patients with ulcers to a diet low in acids, which may include limiting the intake of spicy food, alcohol, coffee, chocolate, and acidic produce such as citric fruit.
When signs of a bleeding ulcer are found, prompt medical treatment is necessary, as they constitute a medical emergency that may require outgoing patient procedures or even surgery.
Bleeding ulcers will doubtlessly require antibiotics, to reduce the risk of sepsis.(4, 5)
How can I prevent apple cider vinegar from giving me ulcers?
Ulcers can be prevented by not consuming apple cider vinegar altogether or watering it down for consumption. This does not mean mixing the recommended spoonful in a glass of water and then drinking it down, but rather, lowering the amount ingested altogether.
When it involves diluting it in water, juice, or other liquids, it is recommended to add a small amount, approximately 1 to 2 teaspoons, to water or even other dishes as the effect of the acetic acid will be diminished.
Consuming antacid tablets may also be of aid, though patients with gallstones and kidney stones should not rely on anti-acid tablets for treatment.
The most reasonable advice is to limit the amount of acetic acid (which is a main component of apple cider vinegar) one ingests, and at the first sign of discomfort, suspend its use and see a doctor. (1, 2, 5)
Other FAQs about Vinegar that you may be interested in.
This brief guide addressed the query “Can apple cider vinegar cause ulcers?” Also, we’ve discussed how and why apple cider vinegar may cause ulcers, what ulcers are, how to treat ulcers caused by apple cider vinegar, and what alternatives there are to apple cider vinegar that won’t cause ulcers.
- Gerhard Whitworth,Timothy Huzar, Side effects of apple cider vinegar. Healthline Media LLC. MedicalNewsToday. 2019.
- Pravasi, S. D. Acetic Acid. Encyclopedia of Toxicology, 33–35. 2014.
- Adriana Dabija et. al. Study concerning the quality of apple vinegar obtained through classical method. Journal of Agroalimentary Processes and Technologies 20(4), 2014.
- Connors, J. M. Ulcers. xPharm: The Comprehensive Pharmacology Reference, 1–8. 2007.
- Graham Rogers, Valencia Higuera, Peptic Ulcer. Healthline Media LLC. 2020