Article by Jennifer Maez
I wanted to share with you my experience using apple cider vinegar (ACV) for my acid reflux. I gained 40 pounds while I was pregnant, and had horrible acid reflux (commonly known as GERD, gastroesophageal reflux disease). I blamed it on the baby pushing up on my stomach, but whatever the actual cause was, I was miserable. Everything I ate made my chest burn, and sometimes I burped stomach acid. I wanted something that would be safe to take while I was pregnant, and I shied away from prescriptions. I had heard too many horror stories about women being told something was safe to take while pregnant, only to find out later that they were not, with devastating consequences. So I looked for a natural cure.
A friend suggested that I try apple cider vinegar. She did not suggest diluting it, although many articles I have read do suggest that, either because of the strong flavor or because of the strength of the acid in ACV. I did not dilute it. I simply took a tablespoon of it straight, as soon as I felt the pain of the reflux. In a matter of seconds, the pain and the reflux were gone.
I was confused about why ACV would work for acid reflux. I had mistakenly thought that GERD was caused by an excess of stomach acid. Through my research, I discovered that acid reflux is caused by a lack of stomach acid, or lowered pH levels. The lack of stomach acid, or abnormally low pH level of it, allows organisms to grow around the sphincter muscle between the stomach and the esophagus, essentially restricting its motion, and allowing stomach acid to spill up into the esophagus. So what I was feeling was not an excess of acid, it was just stomach acid where it didn’t belong. The pH level of apple cider vinegar, which is about a 3, is lower than normal stomach acid (hydrochloric acid). However, it is close to the normal level. When stomach acid is not acidic enough to properly work, then the stomach has to produce more of it, leading to additional symptoms of GERD.
Interestingly enough, taking a small amount of ACV helps the stomach regain its normal pH level, thereby reducing the amount of hydrochloric acid needed to aid digestion. Normalizing the pH level also helps reduce the growth of microorganisms on the sphincter muscle of the esophagus, aiding its recovery. Choose the raw, unfiltered varieties above all else. Bragg’s is a good one; it contains the “mother”, which is the powdery substance that sinks to the bottom of the bottle. Results: almost instant relief, in a natural and beneficial form!
If you are concerned about possible side effects of taking ACV, consider this: it has also been studied for its beneficial enzymes and soluble fiber, for containing high amounts of vitamins A, B6, C, and E, and also thiamin, riboflavin, beta-carotene, niacin, and lycopene, as well as the minerals phosphorus, potassium, calcium, iron, and magnesium. It can be used internally and externally, and has been proven to be a natural antibiotic, which has been shown to be particularly good for skin infections such as acne. It has also been shown to be effective for sunburn, insect bites, diabetes, dandruff, vaginal infections, high blood pressure, and many more. As always, be sure to ask your doctor about known interactions with any medications you may be taking, but ACV is a good bet for many types of physical ailments, especially acid reflux. My baby and I can vouch for that!
Jennifer Maez is a freelance writer who, after living in 12 different states, currently resides in Colorado. She has a B.A. in Psychology. Jennifer enjoys hiking, plant identification, and meditation, and is a self-taught student of natural and holistic medicine. She enjoys cooking paleo dishes for her family, and is currently working on a paleo sauces cookbook.