GastroIntestinal / Gastroenterology

Is apple cider vinegar good or bad for diarrhea?

Apple cider vinegar has become popular as a natural remedy for a variety of ailments. Can it cause diarrhea, or might it be used to treat it?

Apple cider vinegar can be used in cooking, taken as a pill, or combined with water. Because it is very acidic, it may cause stomach discomfort or digestive problems. However, this is unlikely to happen unless a person drinks a significant amount of the undiluted vinegar.

Research into apple cider vinegar is limited, but some people do experience adverse side effects. In addition to diarrhea, these effects include damage to tooth enamel and stomach problems in people with diabetes.

Does apple cider vinegar cause diarrhea?

Apple cider vinegar in a glass
Acidic foods may cause an upset stomach or diarrhea.

Apple cider vinegar is made by fermenting the sugar in apples. The fermentation process creates acetic acid, the key part of vinegar that makes it acidic. Some people may find that acidic or spicy foods can cause an upset stomach, heartburn, or diarrhea.

Infections such as food poisoning are common causes of diarrhea. Food allergies or certain medical conditions, such as celiac disease or irritable bowel syndrome, can also cause diarrhea.


Can it treat diarrhea?

Research has found that apple cider vinegar has antimicrobial properties and can destroy E. coli bacteria, which can cause food poisoning and are responsible for many cases of diarrhea.

However, apple cider vinegar might also destroy some types of bacteria in the gut that are good for digestion. This could irritate the gut and lead to diarrhea.

This research was carried out in a laboratory, with apple cider vinegar applied directly to bacteria, so the results are likely to be different in people.

There is also some evidence that apple cider vinegar delays the emptying of the stomach. If a person has diarrhea, apple cider vinegar could slow down the digestive process, which may give the stool time to harden before being expelled.

More research needs to be done into the possible benefits of apple cider vinegar, as it is not clear whether it is safe to use as a treatment for diarrhea.


Other apple cider vinegar side effects

Apple cider vinegar is very acidic and should not be drunk undiluted. Instead, add a few teaspoons of vinegar to a glass of water.

Drinking undiluted apple cider vinegar over a prolonged period could erode tooth enamel, which is the protective layer coating the teeth. Rinsing the teeth with water after drinking apple cider vinegar can help limit the potential damage to enamel.

A person who has diabetes and gastroparesis may be advised to avoid apple cider vinegar. Gastroparesis is a disorder that stops the stomach emptying its contents into the gut as quickly as it should.

Apple cider vinegar may interact with some prescription medications. If a person is taking medication, they may wish to consult a medical professional before using apple cider vinegar.

Apple cider vinegar is available in tablet form from many online retailers, but these products are not regulated in the same way as products available in drugstores. Apple cider vinegar pills may vary in strength or acidity, so a person should be cautious about purchasing them.


Other ways to treat diarrhea

senior man pouring and drinking water at a kitchen table
Drinking plenty of fluids is recommended if a person has diarrhea.

Diarrhea usually goes away without treatment but may last for 2 to 4 days in adults. It is essential to drink plenty of fluids during this time, as diarrhea can cause dehydration.

A person should eat when they feel able to, and start with bland foods, such as bananas or rice.

Other symptoms of diarrhea include stomach cramps and a high temperature. A person can take over-the-counter pain medication, such as ibuprofen, to treat these symptoms.

Medication for diarrhea is available to reduce the length and severity of the symptoms, but it cannot stop diarrhea completely.

Over-the-counter rehydration solutions are available to treat dehydration caused by diarrhea. These are made up of sugar, salt, and minerals that can be dissolved in water. These treatments are not usually suitable for young children.

Infants can get dehydrated very quickly, so they should be given small sips of water regularly. If they show signs of dehydration, such as not peeing often enough, they may need medical attention.

A person should seek medical help if they:

  • have diarrhea for more than 5 days
  • do not want to eat and are losing weight
  • feel very sick or vomit often
  • have blood in their poop, or dark and smelly poop
  • have recently been in the hospital

Diarrhea is usually caused by an infection, which means it can spread to other people. To avoid passing the infection on, a person can:

  • wash their hands thoroughly after using the bathroom
  • keep the toilet clean,
  • wash soiled bed linen or towels at a high temperature
  • avoid sharing cutlery

Takeaway

Apple cider vinegar is not a medicine, so there is no official advice on how to take it. However, it is safe for most people to consume 1 to 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar diluted in water.

If a person has any adverse side effects from apple cider vinegar, including diarrhea, it is best to stop taking apple cider vinegar and speak with a doctor.

Further research needs to be done into apple cider vinegar, as the possible health benefits and any potential risks are not currently clear. Diarrhea can usually be treated at home with rest and plenty of fluids.

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