Does Apple Cider Vinegar Work for IBS?

Given the buzz about the health benefits of apple cider vinegar, people ask whether it's helpful for irritable bowel syndrome. Home remedies like ACV tend not to get research funding like pharmaceutical medications do. This makes it difficult to come to any type of firm conclusion.

Woman with glass of apple cider vinegar
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Purported Health Benefits of ACV

Please note that all of these claims about the value of ACV lack scientific backing:

  • Acts as a skin tonic
  • Detoxifies the body
  • Eases sore throats
  • Elevates mood
  • Eradicates candida
  • Gets rid of bad breath
  • Helps with constipation
  • Helps with diarrhea
  • Improves digestion
  • Makes your hair shiny
  • Promotes weight loss
  • Soothes sunburns
  • Puts the body in an alkaline state
  • Reduces heartburn
  • Whitens your teeth

ACV and Digestion

ACV enjoys a fairly popular reputation for enhancing digestion. The rationale is that ACV enhances the secretion of digestive enzymes and increases stomach acid, both of which would help you to optimally digest the food you have eaten. Unfortunately, there is not a lot of scientific evidence to back this theory.

It has also been purported that ACV is beneficial in reducing both diarrhea and constipation. ACV does contain pectin, a form of soluble fiber, so it is theoretically possible that it may help to absorb liquid from the intestines and help with improved stool formation. You would have to drink a lot of it to see any substantial effect, but research suggests that consuming large amounts of cider vinegar may have adverse effects.

What Does Research Say?

ACV has not received significant attention from academic researchers. Some preliminary studies examined the effects of ACV and other types of vinegar on diabetes, but the research is too limited to draw any firm conclusions. There do not appear to be any peer-reviewed studies about the effect of ACV on IBS.

Should You Try ACV for Your IBS?

It seems highly unlikely that drinking ACV will have any effect on your IBS.

If you do decide to try it anyway, consider dissolving 1 or 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar into an 8-ounce glass of water and drink it before your meals. It is too acidic to drink straight, as the acids may cause problems with your teeth and your esophagus. This high acidity also makes the use of ACV in pill form somewhat risky.

ACV may interfere with the absorption of any medications you are currently taking, so check with your physician before including it in your diet. Particular care should be taken if you are on thyroid or blood pressure medication.

5 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Lhotta K, Höfle G, Gasser R, Finkenstedt G. Hypokalemia, Hyperreninemia and Osteoporosis in a Patient Ingesting Large Amounts of Cider VinegarNephron. 1998;80(2):242-243. doi:10.1159/000045180.

  2. Halima BH, Sarra K, Houda BJ, Sonia G, Abdallah A. Antihyperglycemic, Antihyperlipidemic and Modulatory Effects of Apple Cider Vinegar on Digestive Enzymes in Experimental Diabetic RatsInternational Journal of Pharmacology. 2016;12(5):505-513. doi:10.3923/ijp.2016.505.513

  3. Hill LL, Woodruff LH, Foote JC, Barreto-Alcoba M. Esophageal Injury by Apple Cider Vinegar Tablets and Subsequent Evaluation of ProductsJournal of the American Dietetic Association. 2005;105(7):1141-1144. doi:10.1016/j.jada.2005.04.003

  4. Beheshti, Zahra & Chan, Yiong & Sharif Nia, Hamid & Hajihosseini, Fatemeh & Nazari, Roghieh & Shaabani, Mohammad & Taghi, Mohammad & Omran, Salehi & Huak, Yiong. (2012). Influence of apple cider vinegar on blood lipids. Life Science Journal. 9. 2431-2440. 

  5. Hlebowicz J, Darwiche G, Björgell O, Almér L-O. Effect of apple cider vinegar on delayed gastric emptying in patients with type 1 diabetes mellitus: a pilot studyBMC Gastroenterology. 2007;7(1). doi:10.1186/1471-230x-7-46.

Additional Reading
  • Zeratsky, K. (2012). "Drinking Apple Cider Vinegar for Weight Loss Seems Far-Fetched. Does it work?" Mayo Clinic.

By Barbara Bolen, PhD
Barbara Bolen, PhD, is a licensed clinical psychologist and health coach. She has written multiple books focused on living with irritable bowel syndrome.