Value of Vinegar?

Periodically patients will ask what is my opinion of using vinegar medicinally. The purported benefits of vinegar consumption are many and go back as least as far as Hippocrates, who used it to disinfect wounds. Not surprisingly, the herbal industry has sold vinegar with claims that it is “fat flushing,” it removes “unwanted heavy metals,” and help with pain and “circulatory problems.”

Whether all these claims are true I do not know. There is however, some intriguing evidence, with a few small studies from Europe showing decreased insulin and glucose responses and increased satiety with vinegar supplementation. One study gave three different amounts of acetic acid to patients and found a dose-response relationship with decreases in serum glucose and insulin and a direct relationship between satiety and the amount of vinegar ingested.

As far as safety, vinegar has been used for so long that it is considered safe. However, as with everything too much vinegar can be harmful. There is a case of a 28-year-old woman who developed hyperkalemia ( high potassium levels) after drinking 250ml of cider vinegar daily for six years.

Terry Pfau, DO, HMD

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