Should You Use Apple Cider Vinegar for Migraine Pain?

In recent years, apple cider vinegar has become a popular natural remedy for many ailments, including headaches and migraines. Research hasn’t proven the benefits of apple cider vinegar for migraine pain. However, this type of vinegar does have other science-backed health benefits that may explain why it is often recommended as a treatment for headaches.

This article will discuss the scientific evidence behind apple cider vinegar for migraines, other potential health benefits, and risks.

apple cider vinegar

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What Is Apple Cider Vinegar?

Apple cider vinegar is made by fermenting apple cider. The process involves letting crushed apples, yeast, and water sit at room temperature until the yeast turns the sugars from the apples into alcohol. Then bacteria are added to turn it into acetic acid, the main active compound in vinegar.

Acetic acid gives apple cider vinegar its sharp, pungent smell and sour flavor. It's also the compound that researchers suggest gives apple cider vinegar its health benefits.

Although apple cider vinegar doesn't contain high amounts of vitamins or minerals, it is rich in organic acids, phenolic, tannins, flavonoids, and carotenoids. Combined, these are believed to be primarily responsible for apple cider vinegar's antioxidant and antibacterial properties.

Health Benefits

Polyphenols in apple cider vinegar can help fight inflammation and improve blood pressure and lipid (fat) levels. They may also help protect against cardiovascular disease (heart disease) and diabetes. The polyphenols in apple cider vinegar also act as antioxidants, protecting against cell damage in the body.

There is no solid scientific evidence that apple cider vinegar can treat migraines. However, some studies suggest it may aid in blood sugar regulation. Because elevated glucose levels can trigger a headache, drinking apple cider vinegar regularly may indirectly lessen the occurrence of headaches.

A review of studies found that apple cider vinegar significantly reduced fasting plasma glucose and hemoglobin A1C (HbA1C) levels. Researchers concluded that apple cider vinegar might help control hyperglycemia (high blood sugar). 

Possible Side Effects

Apple cider vinegar is generally considered safe. However, because vinegar is acidic, it can irritate the digestive tract or cause tooth decay over time if it's not diluted correctly.

Additionally, one study investigated vinegar's potential to suppress appetite. Researchers found that many individuals experienced nausea after drinking vinegar with breakfast.

Researchers found that side effects are minimal as long apple cider vinegar is consumed in moderation.

It's important to note that the tannins (substances that derive from phenolic acid) in apple cider vinegar may trigger headaches. Some experts suggest tannins contribute to the release of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which may cause a headache at high levels.

Dosage and Preparation

Because strong evidence to support its use is not available, there is no standard dose of apple cider vinegar to treat migraines.

If you're drinking apple cider vinegar, some advocates recommend 1–2 tablespoons mixed with 8–12 ounces of water.

The amount of acetic acid in apple cider vinegar also varies, making it difficult to know how much it should be diluted.

What to Look For

Apple cider vinegar can be purchased in two forms, filtered or unfiltered.

Filtered apple cider vinegar usually has been pasteurized and is clear. Raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar has a cloudy layer at the bottom of the bottle known as the "mother."

The mother is a combination of bacteria and yeast formed during fermentation. Many people believe it's what gives apple cider vinegar its health-promoting properties. However, there is no solid scientific evidence to support this.

What Does Apple Cider Vinegar Do for Migraines?

Apple cider vinegar may help regulate blood glucose levels, which may reduce the frequency of headaches caused by elevated blood sugar levels.

However, it can potentially trigger a headache in some individuals because tannins may boost the production of serotonin. A shift in serotonin levels can trigger migraines in individuals prone to them.

For headache relief, in addition to diluting it in water, some experts recommend boiling apple cider vinegar and water and inhaling the steam. To do this, mix 2 ounces of apple cider vinegar with about 16 ounces of water. Bring to a boil and inhale the steam for about three minutes.

It's important to note that the safety of these preparations is unknown. A person contemplating using apple cider vinegar to treat a headache should speak with their healthcare provider beforehand.

Natural Remedies for Migraines

Unfortunately, there is no cure for migraines. However, there are several different natural remedies for migraine relief you can try at home. These include:

Additionally, if you experience frequent, severe migraine headaches, your healthcare provider may prescribe medications to reduce the severity and frequency of migraines.


Migraines are intense, recurring headaches that can last hours or days. Apple cider vinegar has become a natural remedy for many ailments, including helping to reduce inflammation and improving blood pressure.

There isn't enough scientific evidence to support the use of apple cider vinegar to treat or prevent migraine headaches. Be sure to talk to your healthcare provider before incorporating apple cider vinegar into your diet.

A Word From Verywell

Living with migraines is challenging. It can leave you in pain and feeling dizzy, weak, and frustrated. Fortunately, there are medications you can take to relieve the pain of recurring migraines. Moreover, being in a relaxing, comfortable environment with soft lighting and soothing music may provide further relief.

9 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.
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By Lindsey DeSoto, RD, LD
Lindsey Desoto is a registered dietitian with experience working with clients to improve their diet for health-related reasons. She enjoys staying up to date on the latest research and translating nutrition science into practical eating advice to help others live healthier lives.