Can Apple Cider Vinegar Treat Yeast Infections?

A yeast infection occurs when the normal yeast in the vagina overgrows, leading to an infection. There is a natural balance of bacteria and yeast in the vagina, and they keep each other in check. When one is low, the other can grow out of control. For example, taking an antibiotic often leads to yeast infection because the medication kills the good bacteria in the vagina. 

Apple cider vinegar is believed to have both antimicrobial and antifungal effects. Apple cider vinegar has been found to lower the number of Candida yeast in a lab setting. However, the safety and efficacy of using it for vaginal yeast infection have yet to be proven.  

apple cider vinegar

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Does Apple Cider Vinegar Kill Candida? 

Apple cider vinegar has been found to have both antifungal and antimicrobial effects. This means that it may be helpful against overgrowth of both yeast and bacteria in the body, although research is limited. There is little research examining the efficacy of apple cider vinegar in treating vaginal yeast infections, but it has been shown to be effective in helping with other fungal infections.

A 2015 study found that after 30 minutes of exposure, apple cider vinegar has a fungicidal effect on dental stomatitis. In a 2018 case study, researchers found that applying apple cider vinegar 5% acetic acid to the mouth twice daily can reduce Candida yeast by 94% and effectively treat oral candidiasis. 

Apple cider vinegar appears to inhibit Candida adherence to smooth surfaces as well. In a small case study, apple cider vinegar was used as an effective yeast infection treatment in a tough-to-treat infection that did not respond to traditional treatment. However, further research is needed to determine if apple cider vinegar can be used as a safe yeast infection treatment.

Other studies have found that apple cider vinegar can kill harmful bacteria. However, compared to its effect on bacteria, apple cider vinegar is less effective at combating yeast overgrowth.

Taking apple cider vinegar by mouth has been shown to lower triglyceride levels and improve cholesterol in rat studies. It may also help decrease inflammation in the body and boost immune response, but this has not yet been studied in humans. 

Most studies have determined that apple cider vinegar has the potential to be used for medical purposes, but further research is needed to support these benefits. 

Diabetes and Yeast Infections

Apple cider vinegar may be especially helpful for individuals with diabetes. It has been proven to lower blood glucose levels after a meal. In fact, taking apple cider vinegar by mouth for 100 days has been shown to improve insulin resistance in one patient. Because diabetes is a risk factor for developing yeast infections, adding apple cider vinegar to one’s diet may have a preventive effect. 

How to Use Apple Cider Vinegar 

If you’d like to try adding apple cider vinegar to your health regimen, it should be taken by mouth. Using apple cider vinegar directly on the vagina has not been proven safe or effective, and may be harmful to the vaginal tissue. It may also increase the risk of vaginal infections by disrupting the pH balance of the vagina.

Apple cider vinegar can be taken as a supplement in the form of liquid, capsules, or gummies. There is no approved dosage, so follow the directions on the package.

To take apple cider vinegar orally, dilute the vinegar in cool or warm water first. Check your bottle of apple cider vinegar to determine the amount of acetic acid in it. If you’re not sure, dilute a tablespoon in at least eight ounces of water to prevent irritation to the skin. Apple cider vinegar can also be used as a dressing for salads and vegetables.

Even diluted vinegar can be very irritating to the skin, so adding apple cider vinegar to a bath is not recommended. It can also disrupt the good bacteria in your vagina, leading to an imbalance of bacteria and yeast. When these two factors are out of balance, you are more at risk of experiencing future yeast infections and a bacterial infection known as bacterial vaginosis. 

Warning

You may have read about home remedies that involve inserting apple cider vinegar into your vagina. This can be done with a tampon soaked in apple cider vinegar or by douching with it. These methods are not safe and should never be recommended. Apple cider vinegar is acidic and can cause chemical burns to the skin.

When to Call a Doctor

Most over-the-counter yeast infection treatments take a few days to work. If you have been taking apple cider vinegar with no results for three days, see your doctor. It is common to assume that any vaginal pain or discomfort is caused by a yeast infection.

However, it’s estimated that up to two-thirds of women who buy over-the-counter yeast infection treatments do not have a true yeast infection. See your doctor to determine the cause of your symptoms, as well as the appropriate treatment.  

The most common symptoms of a yeast infection are itching, burning, and a thick, white vaginal discharge that looks like cottage cheese. If you have additional symptoms, see your doctor since you could be experiencing a different infection.

Also call your doctor if you experience any side effects of apple cider vinegar. Vinegar is acidic and can cause skin irritation and even chemical burns. If you have experienced any skin redness or irritation after using apple cider vinegar, see your doctor. 

A Word From Verywell

The initial research on apple cider vinegar’s antifungal and antimicrobial effects looks promising, but has yet to be proven. Talk with your doctor before starting an oral regimen, and never use it in or on your vagina.

It’s important to remember that there is no approved dose of apple cider vinegar, so it is best to greatly dilute it first before use. In addition, avoid any treatments that recommend applying apple cider vinegar directly to the vagina. Doing so can lead to serious side effects.

As always, check with your doctor if you have any questions or concerns.

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