Written by Slawomir Gromadzki, MPH

There is no doubt that apple cider vinegar can have many health benefits (>), but due to its possible harmful effects, I always recommend to use it internally for no longer than few weeks and in moderate amounts (1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon 2-3 times daily with a glass of water or food).

Please keep in mind that it is still a vinegar and may have similar negative health effects as the spirit vinegar (also known as white or distilled vinegar). They both contain almost the same amount of harmful acetic acid (5-7%). The only difference is that the side effects of regular use of apple cider vinegar are less dangerous due to lower consumption. In addition, unlike spirit vinegar, apple cider vinegar contains various substances which can be beneficial.

The key component of vinegar (including apple cider vinegar) is acetic acid, which is a toxic waste product. In the human body acetic acid is converted to acetaldehyde which is a neurotoxin (damages brain and nerve cells) and contributes to vitamin B1 deficiency. Also, the consumption of refined sugar and alcohol lead to excessive production of the same brain-damaging toxic substance.

The acetic acid is an irritant to the stomach and contributes to a loss of the protective stomach lining. For this reason, regular use of foods containing vinegar is one of the most common causes of gastritis, along with aspirin and alcohol.

Acetic acid (in spirit vinegar and apple cider vinegar) stimulates the thyroid gland to pull phosphorous from the adrenal glands to negate the effects of acetic acid in the system. Depleted phosphorous contributes to the impaired function of the adrenal glands.

Vinegar contributes to Candida overgrowth and it is an irritant to the central nervous system. Regular consumption of vinegar may lead to potassium deficiency and lower bone density. It has been shown to be harmful to the liver and to the kidneys.

Acetaldehyde also causes the membranes of red blood cells to become stiff, making it difficult for these oxygen-carrying cells to pass through narrow capillaries. It contributes to hypoxia (cellular oxygen deficiency).

Acetaldehyde indirectly promotes the atrophy of nerve cell dendrites through its effect on tubulin. Tubulin is a protein in the body that chemically changes into long filaments that form microtubules, which transport nutrients and provide structural support for nerve cells. Acetaldehyde reduces the ability of tubulin to change into these supportive structures, causing the degeneration and death of nerve cell dendrites. There is a connection between dendrite degeneration and Alzheimer’s disease.

Be sure to always dilute apple cider vinegar in water instead of drinking it straight to prevent negative side effects. You should also start with a low dose and work your way up to assess your tolerance.

Salad dressings can be made with lemon juice instead of vinegar. Also, pickles can be made with lemon instead of vinegar.



Kazuhiro Tokuda, Yukitoshi Izumi, Charles F. Zorumski Neurol Clin Neurosci. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2014 Jul 1. Acetaldehyde Contributes to the Effects of Ethanol on Neurosteroids and LTP in the Hippocampus

Pomorski L, Bartos M, Matejkowska M, Kuzdak K. The influence of a single acetic acid and lactic acid injection on rat normal thyroid tissue. Cesk Patol. 2002 Jul;38(3):107-12.

Nobuhara Y, Takeuchi K, Okabe S. Vinegar dietary irritant to the rat gastric mucosa. Jpn J Pharmacol. 1986 May;41(1):101-8.

H. Yu, J. Y. Hwang, J. Ro, J. Kim, and N. Chang. Pickled vegetables associated with the risk of breast cancer. Nutr Cancer, 62(4):443{453, 2010.

L. Jian, D. H. Zhang, A. H. Lee, and C. W. Binns. Cancer risk increases with intake of pickled vegetables, Br. J. Cancer, 90(9):1792{1795, 2004

De la Monte SM, Kril JJ. Acetaldehyde and neuropathology. Acta neuropathologica. 2014;127(1):71-90. doi:10.1007/s00401-013-1233-3. &

Ke L., Yu P., Zhang Z.X. Novel epidemiologic evidence for the association between fermented fish sauce and esophageal cancer in South China. Int. J. Cancer. 2002;99:424–426. doi: 10.1002/ijc.10293.

Chen C.S., Pignatelli B., Malaveille C., Bouvier G., Shuker D., Hautefeuille A., Zhang R.F., Bartsch H. Levels of direct-acting mutagens, total N-nitroso compounds in nitrosated fermented products Mutat. Res. 1992;265:211–221. doi: 10.1016/0027-5107(92)90050-C.

Gambon DL, Brand HS, Veerman EC. Unhealthy weight loss. Erosion by apple cider vinegar. Ned Tijdschr Tandheelkd. 2012 Dec;119(12):589-91. Dutch.

Lhotta K, Höfle G, Gasser R, Finkenstedt G, Hypokalemia, Hyperreninemia and Osteoporosis in a Patient Ingesting Cider Vinegar. Nephron 1998;80:242-243