Vinegar is a liquid consisting of about 5-20% acetic acidwater, and other trace elements which may include flavorings. It has been used as a treatment for many different ailments since the time of Hippocrates, 420 B.C. (R).

Other bioactive products in vinegar are gallic acid, catechin, epicatechin, and caffeic acid.

Acetic acid is the main ingredient in vinegar that makes it a useful treatment as an anti-microbial and antioxidant.

Health Benefits of Vinegar

1) Vinegar is an Antioxidant

Vinegar is a source of dietary polyphenols which are antioxidants and defend against oxidative stress (R).

Kurosu a traditional vinegar produced from unpolished rice suppressed lipid peroxidation in mice treated topically with hydrogen peroxide-generating chemicals (R).

Animal and cell experiments have also indicated that both grain vinegar and fruit vinegar can improve antioxidant capacities and reduce oxidative damage (R1, R2).

2) Vinegar Helps Control Blood Glucose Levels

In rats, blood glucose levels were significantly reduced when used in conjunction with corn starch.

In humans, the results were not as pronounced. However, the area under the insulin response curve was reduced by 20%, after the subject was administered 50 g of sucrose and 60 mL of vinegar (R).

In insulin-resistant subjects, vinegar improved post-meal insulin sensitivity by 34%. In patients with Type 2 diabetes, insulin sensitivity improved by 19% (R).

In another blinded, randomized placebo-controlled, cross-over design the addition of vinegar or peanut products to a high glycemic load meal significantly reduced postprandial glycemia (R).

In one clinical study vinegar, supplementation lowered glucose and insulin responses and increased satiety after a bread meal in healthy subjects (R).

Thus, vinegar could be a potential treatment to slow the progression of diabetes.

3) Vinegar Helps Reduce Weight


Vinegar also increases satiety levels, indicating that it could be useful as a weight-control.

An investigation revealed that in North-African culture women used apple cider vinegar to achieve weight loss for generations (R).

In a double-blind clinical study, vinegar intake reduced body weight, body fat mass and serum triglyceride levels in obese Japanese subjects. A daily intake of vinegar, therefore, could be helpful in the prevention of metabolic syndrome by reducing obesity (R).

According to one study in animals, cider vinegar induced a significant reduction in weight gain (R).

4) Vinegar Inhibits Tumor Growth and May Prevent Cancer


A case-control study demonstrated that vinegar ingestion was associated with a decreased risk for esophageal cancer (R).

Sugarcane vinegar (kibizu) induced apoptosis and reduced the growth of the human leukemia cells (R).

Japanese rice vinegar (kurosu) inhibited the proliferation of human cancer cells in a dose-dependent manner by arresting the G0/G1 phase of the cell cycle (R).

An extract from Japanese rice vinegar containing ethyl acetate inhibited azoxymethane-induced colon carcinogenesis in male rats in comparison to control rats. After 40 days, the rats had significantly smaller tumor volumes, as well as longer lifespans (R).

In a mouse model vinegar produced from RSDS (Rice-shochu post distillation slurry) stimulated natural killer cell cytotoxic activity against human leukemia cell lines (R).

5) Vinegar May Help Promote Heart Health


According to a prospective cohort study, consumption of oil and vinegar salad dressings (5-6 times or more per week) significantly lowered the risk for fatal ischemic heart disease in women participants (R).

The acetic acid in vinegar significantly reduced blood pressure and renin activity compared to controls, in hypertensive rats (R).

Studies have also reported that vinegar administration inhibited the renin-angiotensin system in non-hypertensive rats (R).

Trials investigating the effects of vinegar ingestion on the renin-angiotensin system have not been conducted in humans, and there is no scientific evidence that vinegar ingestion alters blood pressure in humans (R).

6) Vinegar is an Anti-Microbial and Helps Prevent Infections


Investigations have demonstrated the effectiveness of diluted vinegar (2% acetic acid solution at pH 2) for the treatment of ear infections, including otitis externa, otitis media (R), and granular myringitis (R). 


Vinegar is slightly effective at inhibiting the growth of Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa (R).


Vinegar is used in remote, poorly sourced locations as a mechanism for screening women for Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) infection (R).

When the acetic acid in vinegar comes in contact with the viral lesions associated with HPV, it alters them allowing midwives to detect infection with 77% sensitivity (R).

A preliminary study suggests that local excision plus a brief application of 99% acetic acid with rapid neutralization with sterile water under local anesthesia was effective in treating condylomata acuminata (multiple genital warts) in women with an acceptable rate of recurrence of 13.3% (R).

Yeast Infections

Vinegar is helpful in fighting candida vulvovaginitis and oral candidiasis (R). The acidity of vinegar also helps to maintain vaginal pH levels.

A half-cup of white vinegar in their bath could help women get relief from vaginal infections caused by candida according to some studies (R).

Vinegar has been used to treat lice, nail fungus, and warts. However, vinegar is ineffective compared to other treatments normally used for these ailments.

Adverse Effects

Although vinegar’s use is considered safe by default, there are rare reports of literature regarding adverse reactions to vinegar ingestion.

According to one case-control study in Serbia vinegar ingestion (m vs l tertile) was associated with a 4.4 fold greater risk for bladder cancer (R).

Hypokalemia (low levels of potassium in the blood) was observed in a 28-year old woman who had reportedly consumed approximately 250ml of apple cider vinegar daily for 6 years (R).


Although vinegar is able to treat many infections, there are usually other more effective options.

For example, although topical application of vinegar can treat warts; local anesthesia, excision, and neutralization is a much more effective form of treatment (R).

Thus, patients should consult with their doctor before choosing vinegar as their main treatment option.

Vinegar Recipe

1 flat teaspoon cinnamon, 1 flat teaspoon cardamom, a sprinkle of ground clove  and some raw honey (or stevia) with 3 tablespoons of ACV and a cup of water.


  • The proposed mechanism is that acetic acid acts directly on renin activity, which causes a decrease in Angiotensin II, which subsequently reduces blood pressure (R).
  • The method through which vinegar improves glycemic levels is not fully known. However, researchers believe the mechanism occurs after translation of sucrase/lactase/maltase enzyme complex (R).
  • The acetic acid in vinegar reduces blood sugar content by activating AMPK (R).



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