Could you use Apple Cider Vinegar for UTI treatment or prevention? Dr. Kim says that while on one hand, Apple Cider Vinegar cannot cure Urinary Tract Infections. On the other, there are definite benefits to consume ACV to prevent UTI and improve health.
This post is written by Kim Langdon Cull, MD.
Being a retired physician, I am often asked to write about medical topics. The latest rage is herbal, homeopathic, and all-natural remedies and their role in treating or curing diseases. There is ample scientific evidence about the benefits of naturally-occurring substances. I have endorsed many health supplements especially those with anti-oxidative properties.
Free radicals are free electrons which are negatively charged particles that cause oxidation which is a fancy word for inflammation.
#1 Natural Anti-oxidants And Your Body
Inflammation can be repaired by the body after the fact or prevented by anti-oxidants (anti-inflammatories). That is the primary role of many herbal supplements. However, many herbs possess anti-microbial properties as demonstrated in the laboratory.
A microbe is either a virus, bacteria, fungus or parasite. Under controlled conditions, the researchers alter temperature, pH, and nutrients that the microbe depends on for survival. Then, the scientist introduces an herbal substance to the Petrie dish of a microbe to see which ones survive. If the microbe dies or does not grow, it is concluded that the microbe is susceptible to that herb.
That is excellent news, but there is a catch when it comes to the body. Ingesting an herb means that it goes into the stomach and exposed to a very strong acid, as strong as chlorine bleach!
The herb is broken down into its chemical components and is absorbed into the bloodstream through the small intestine. Once in the blood, the good (anti-microbial and anti-oxidant) chemicals circulate in many organs. Regarding the kidneys, the blood is cleared of toxins and excess nitrogen. The electrolytes and pH in the blood are regulated this way as well.
#2 Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) for UTI
Recently, there has been much written about apple cider vinegar (ACV) and UTI. I have searched large databases of scientific research, and the results are amazing for many conditions such as diabetes, acne, and high cholesterol.
The theory that ACV is effective against UTIs, is due to the acid introduced into the urine as a result of the kidneys attempting to neutralize pH.
It is unclear at this time if there is any anti-microbial activity of the by-products of ACV once it reaches the bladder except for the acidification of the urine. All the other byproducts of ACV were used by the cells of the body.
It is possible that microbial growth is inhibited in an acidic environment, but a full-blown infection is an entirely different story.
It may be that the increase in fluid intake itself (as a result of ACV ingestion) is the reason that more bacteria can be flushed out which lowers the burden of the body’s natural immune process, but that does not mean it can cure anything!
#3 ACV Won’t Cure An Active UTI
In fact, it would be dangerous to avoid antibiotics because the bacteria can travel back to the kidneys via the tubes that connect the bladder to the kidneys (ureters). Once the kidneys are infected, the bloodstream is at risk. This is called sepsis and is life-threatening to the tune of 20% mortality, especially in the elderly. So, drinking or bathing in ACV to treat a urinary tract infection is dangerous, to say the least.
#4 ACV Could Worsen UTI Symptoms
Once a bacterial infection takes hold in the bladder, drinking ACV to acidify the bladder will result in worse symptoms because acid eats away at the mucous lining of the bladder which allows the bacteria to adhere to the walls of the bladder better. And, “acidic urine causes more inflammation to the already inflamed tissue”, says Dr. Marianne Legato, a professor at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons and co-author of “What Women Need to Know.”
#5 Apple Cider Vinegar Has Beneficial Properties
There is evidence from animal studies that ACV diluted in water before meals have following effects :
- Lowers blood sugar (glucose) levels;
- Decreases fat storage in the body;
- Improves metabolic function;
- Increases fat metabolism;
- Decreases insulin levels;
In a study from Diabetes Care, insulin sensitivity was improved by 34% after two tablespoons were diluted in eight ounces of water and consumed before meals.
With regard to weight loss, the same consumption of ACV resulted in a four-pound weight loss after 12 weeks. It may work by increasing the sense of fullness during the meal. The best results were seen in those who also exercised.
In an animal study from Iran, the bad LDL cholesterol was lowered while the good HDL cholesterol was increased
The following is a list of other potential benefits of Organic Raw Apple Cider Vinegar that have not been conclusively proven:
- Skin health and acne treatment and reduces scars
- Reduced blood pressure-worked for rats
- Acid reflux reduction
- Improves gut health by encouraging the good bacteria of the gut to dominate
- Soothes sunburns
- Possibly fights fungus such as athlete’s feet
- Varicose vein pain relief in conjunction with massage
- Treats warts with cotton-ball soaked ACV
- Helps relieve itch from poison ivy
- Flea remedy for dogs
- Natural deoderant
- Allergy relief
- Keeps hair shiny-rinse hair in dilute ACV solution
- Whitens teeth
#6 Which ACV to choose?
Organic Apple Cider Vinegar
If your apple cider vinegar is labeled as certified organic, it means that it’s free of genetically modified organisms and synthetic additives.
Raw Apple Cider Vinegar
Raw apple cider vinegar is unheated and unprocessed.
Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar
For most apple cider vinegar uses, you’ll also want to go for unfiltered apple cider vinegar that makes it look cloudy.
- Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. Apple Cider Vinegar Monograph. Accessed April 4, 2017
- Leonard, Jayne. How To Make Your Own Apple Cider Vinegar. August 10, 2016. Accessed April 4, 2017
- Mehmet Oz. 7 Surprising Ways to Use Apple Cider Vinegar. Posted on 7/15/2014. Accessed April 4, 2017
- Mehmet, Oz. The 5 Weight Loss Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar. Posted on 2/08/2017. Accessed April 4, 2017