Do Not Use Apple Cider Vinegar If You’re On Any Of These Medications

Nothing exists in a vacuum. Our bodies are complex organisms that are constantly moving, chemicals acting and interacting.

Sometimes substances work synergistically, bringing out the best in each other. Other times, they work antagonistically, making something that’s generally beneficial harmful instead.

Apple cider vinegar (ACV) can be used to promote optimal health, from skin and hair to proper digestion and weight loss. It can even fight deadly inflammation, heal bruises, and even kill cancer.

When mixed with some pharmaceuticals, however, serious adverse reactions can occur such as these apple cider vinegar side effects.

Apple Cider Vinegar Side Effects: Contraindications for ACV

If you are taking any medication at all, it’s a good idea to consult with your healthcare provider or nutritionist to ensure no adverse reactions with any dietary supplement, including ACV. Following are medications and conditions that can result in these apple cider vinegar side effects.

1. Diabetes Drugs

ACV can effectively regulate blood glucose, reducing sugar levels and stimulating insulin production.  If you’re taking an insulin injection or insulin-stimulating medication for diabetes, however, blood sugar can go down too far too fast. In addition, potassium levels can significantly decrease as well, with implications for heart and muscle function and proper digestion.

Further, ACV slows the rate at which food is released from the stomach into the lower digestive tract and subsequently into the bloodstream. This is the mechanism for how ACV is effective in moderating blood glucose.  Gastroparesis is a common consequence of type 1 diabetes in which the nerves in the stomach are dulled and digestion slows. Taking ACV if you have gastroparesis slows down digestion too much, making it extremely difficult to regulate blood sugar levels.

2. Diuretics

“Water pills” are prescribed to reduce the amount of sodium and water in the body. They are used for glaucoma, hypertension, edema (swelling), and other conditions to relieve water retention and pressure. Diuretics stimulate the kidneys to release more sodium into urine, taking water from cells with it. In this way, the medication reduces blood pressure.

Sodium and potassium in the body work in an inverse relationship: the more sodium present, the less potassium there is. If you are taking a diuretic to reduce sodium, you may already have a potassium deficiency, as potassium can get flushed out as well.  ACV can exacerbate that.

Common diuretics include:

  • Chlorothiazide (Diuril)
  • Chlorthalidone
  • Hydrochlorothiazide (Microzide)
  • Indapamide
  • Metolazone
  • Bumetanide (Bumex)
  • Ethacrynic acid (Edecrin)
  • Furosemide (Lasix)
  • Torsemide (Demadex)
  • Amiloride
  • Eplerenone (Inspra)
  • Spironolactone (Aldactone)
  • Triamterene (Dyrenium)

3. Heart Medication

Drugs that regulate your heartbeat slow it down and force stronger heart contractions to maximize blood flow. Low potassium in the blood (whose function is to regulate heartbeat) is known to cause adverse effects of heart drugs like digoxin (Lanoxin).  While ACV contains potassium and other minerals, together with this class of drug it can negatively affect the body’s absorption of potassium.

Digoxin side effects include:

  • nausea or vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • abdominal pain
  • blurred vision
  • dizziness
  • skin rash
  • slow or irregular heartbeat
  • depression
  • weakness and fatigue
  • confusion
  • headache
  • loss of appetite

As an aside, if you are taking digoxin for arterial fibrillation, you may want to discuss your treatment with your physician: a 2014 study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found a significantly increased mortality risk with long-term use.

4. Laxatives

ACV is probiotic and promotes healthy digestion. Its hydrochloric acid is similar to stomach acids that break down food and its fiber helps to move things along the digestive tract. If you’re taking a laxative in combination with ACV, you may end up with the opposite of constipation, which isn’t particularly pleasant either.

5. Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

Some authorities recommend avoiding ACV, others deem it safe while pregnant. Check with your OB/GYN or midwife before taking ACV medicinally.

6. Nausea

One of the ways in which ACV helps with weight loss is by promoting a feeling of satiety so you eat less. For some people, it can also make them feel nauseous, which discourages eating anything and that’s not a healthy way to lose weight.  If you experience nausea, discontinue use.

7. Erosion of Tooth Enamel

Highly acidic foods can wear the enamel on your teeth, especially when taken in excess.  Always dilute ACV in water (1 cup of water or more per tablespoon of ACV) to avoid tooth damage. If you take ACV over a period of time, rinse your mouth immediately and thoroughly afterward with plain water. Also, don’t brush your teeth for at least 30 minutes, as this can spread the acid around!

8. Throat Burn

ACV is a mild acid. In some people, it can cause irritation of the esophageal lining. A Finnish study of children who had been hospitalized for consuming caustic household products found that acetic acid (such as found in ACV and other vinegars) was the most common culprit of esophageal burns.  Keep vinegar out of the reach of children and if you experience discomfort when taking ACV, further dilute or discontinue use.

9. Skin Burns

The acid in ACV is ordinarily safe to apply to (unbroken) skin, especially if diluted. With repeated direct application, however, acid can burn skin.  Moreover, in people suffering from an autoimmune condition, the chemistry of the entire body is thrown out of whack. Using ACV to treat lesions or other skin problems can cause actual burning of skin due to immune system dysfunction.

It is possible to get too much of a good thing. If you are taking medication of any kind (including supplements and healing herbs), check first before adding or continuing with apple cider vinegar (or any other supplement). Vinegar used in cooking is fine because it’s diluted in the jumble of your stomach contents. When used alone in larger amounts as a supplement, however, the backdrop changes.

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