Side Effects of Apple Cider Vinegar: What to Keep an Eye Out For

Side Effects of Apple Cider Vinegar: What to Keep an Eye Out For


Every action has an equal and opposite reaction, right? Such is the case with the things that you consume and use on a daily basis. Apple cider vinegar is not excluded from that fundamental rule, which means that ingesting it or using it externally can and will have some sort of side effect, whether that be beneficial or detrimental. 

As a part of Zhou Nutrition’s series on apple cider vinegar, it’s only fair for us to provide research and conclusions about some side effects ACV can cause. As we’ve said in other ACV articles, you can’t just down a bottle of apple cider vinegar right off the bat. Progressive inclusion of ACV is encouraged so that the body acclimates to it without adverse reactions due to an internal jump in acidity. 


Safety of Vinegar

Vinegar as a drink, a condiment, and a food ingredient has been used for thousands of years. There are a few reports where there was an adverse reaction to vinegar, but these incidents were generally due to the improper or excessive use of vinegar to self-treat a certain condition, such as trying to remove a crab shell lodged in a throat by drinking vinegar without diluting it.

Drinking vinegar, properly diluted in substantial amounts of water, or using it in a salad with vinaigrette, in pickled vegetables or with food is considered quite safe, but there are a few conditions where vinegar use may not be wise.


Apple Cider Vinegar Side Effects:

  • May produce headaches in some people.
  • May produce detoxifying effects, such as stiff, achy joints for a time.
  • May cause nausea in some.
  • Some reports suggest it may reduce potassium levels in some people.
  • When used to excess, it may produce heartburn, indigestion, and diarrhea.
  • May erode tooth enamel if taken undiluted. 
  • May cause esophageal erosion and inflammation if taken undiluted.
  • Digestive side effects, such as indigestion and a reduction in calorie intake due to decreased appetite.
  • Can cause skin burns when applied to the skin due to the highly acidic nature. 


(Contraindication - a condition or factor that serves as a reason to withhold a certain medical treatment due to the harm that it would cause the patient.) 

Not recommended for people who have:
  • Kidney problems
  • Stomach and duodenal ulcers
  • Type 1 diabetics who need insulin (do not substitute vinegar for insulin!)
  • Esophageal inflammation 

Drug Interactions

Any time prescription drugs are used, it is important to ask the prescribing health care practitioner what types of interactions there may be with foods, drink, and other medications. 

Since there are so many different prescription drugs with unique interactions, I have not listed specific medications but groups of medications that may be problematic when used in conjunction with apple cider vinegar.

Make sure to engage with your health care practitioner if you are taking these classes of drugs and want to use vinegar for its health benefits as they may be contra-indicated.

  • Diuretics
  • Laxatives
  • Heart disease medications
  • Diabetes medications (You may experience dangerously low blood sugar or potassium levels in conjunction with your diabetes medication.)

How to safely consume apple cider vinegar 

A few tips to being cautious about apple cider vinegar consumption include the obvious: limit your intake at first. Instead of jumping into the pool, go in step by step to get acclimated. 

In addition to that, make sure to minimize tooth exposure to the acid. You can do this by diluting vinegar with water and drinking it through a straw rather than directly from a glass or bottle. 

Rinse your mouth with water after eating or drinking anything with vinegar, and if you’re really worried, wait 30 minutes and then brush your teeth. 

The Skinny On Apple Cider Vinegar Side Effects

The bottom line is that you should contact a licensed physician or dietitian and consult with them about your apple cider vinegar options. They will be able to give you their medical opinion on how to safely implement apple cider vinegar in your diet or routine in a program that won’t upset your body’s natural pH and functionality. 

Apple cider vinegar is an addition, not a solution. It can help out with many problems, but it is not a cure-all solvent, which you should keep in mind. 

For more information about apple cider vinegar, check out the other articles Zhou Nutrition published, which explore the various benefits and uses for ACV.  Or, if you’re interested in other nutritional options, check out our wide variety of supplements fit for any need. 

If you’re interested in snagging all the benefits of ACV without the potent taste, check out Zhou’s Cider Detox for an alternative that’s easier on the taste buds.