Medical News Today: Does apple cider vinegar help with bloating?

Advocates of apple cider vinegar make many claims about its health benefits. One such claim is that drinking a tablespoon of raw apple cider vinegar in a glass of warm water can treat bloating and other digestive issues.

Home remedies using apple cider vinegar (ACV) to treat intestinal concerns have become popular in recent times. Although there is no scientific evidence that proves ACV will treat bloating, there are anecdotal claims that it is effective. Research has also shown that ACV has many other benefits, thanks to its natural properties.

Read on to find out more about the potential benefits and risks of ACV for bloating and other remedies that may help with the symptoms.

What is bloating?

a woman who made need apple cider vinegar for her bloating.
A person may experience bloating if they eat foods that their body struggles to digest.

Bloating is a buildup of gas in the stomach or intestines. The production of gas is a normal part of both eating and digestion, but it can cause discomfort in some circumstances, including when:

  • there is too much in the body
  • there is too much of the wrong kind
  • it occurs in the upper intestines rather than the colon

A person may feel as if they have an inflated balloon in their stomach or pressure in their intestines and lower abdomen.

Bloating may occur due to:

  • eating too much
  • eating too fast
  • eating foods that the body has trouble digesting
  • bacteria migrating to the small intestine, such as in small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO)

In some cases, gas may be a sign of other issues, such as constipation or a chronic condition, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

The body produces two main gases when bacteria ferment carbohydrates in food. These gases are methane and hydrogen. Research has linked higher amounts of methane gas with several digestive conditions, including constipation, IBS, and obesity.

There is no direct cure for bloating. Instead, the body tends to pass the gas with time, which reduces the discomfort.

Some treatments may help control the symptoms or help the gas pass quicker, but bloating may return if people do not address the underlying cause.


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Does ACV help with bloating?

apple cider vinegar in small glass
Raw, unfiltered, organic ACV is the best kind to use.

Apple cider vinegar has become a popular home remedy for digestive issues in general. One belief is that ACV is a quick and effective cure for bloating. There is very little direct evidence to back this particular claim, however.

ACV may help in specific instances. ACV is naturally acidic, and so for people with low stomach acidity, using ACV may help raise stomach acid levels to aid digestion. In theory, this could prevent gas and bloating, which a slow digestion can cause.

ACV is also an antimicrobial substance, meaning it may help kill bacteria in the stomach or intestines. Excess bacteria or bacteria in the upper intestines release gases that may lead to bloating, so ACV may help with symptoms.


How to use ACV for bloating

Although there is limited scientific evidence that ACV helps with bloating, people may want to try it to see if it eases their symptoms.

Using ACV for bloating is simple. Adding a tablespoon of ACV to a small glass of warm water and then drinking it before or after a meal or when a person feels bloated is all they need to do.

A number of drinks, salad dressings, and other foods also contain ACV that may help to relieve symptoms of bloating.

Some people who do not enjoy the taste may choose to take ACV capsules. It is important to drink a large glass of water with these capsules to make sure they reach the stomach.

It is best to use raw, unfiltered, organic ACV. This natural form of ACV contains strands of yeast and bacteria that give the vinegar a slightly cloudy look. Unfiltered ACV may also contain trace minerals, proteins, and enzymes that are absent in filtered ACV.

Shake up the vinegar before measuring it to capture these bacteria and yeasts as well. Filtered ACV will look almost transparent in comparison, even after shaking.


Possible risks

ACV is usually safe when a person uses it correctly. The only risk is that the product is acidic.

Because of its high acidity, a person must dilute ACV before ingesting it. If left at full strength, it may wear down tooth enamel, or even cause tissue damage to the tongue, mouth, or esophagus. While this damage is not common, it is even less likely if a person dilutes the ACV before drinking.

Alternative home remedies for bloating

Peppermint

Drinking peppermint tea or taking peppermint supplements may help reduce symptoms in the digestive tract.

A review in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine notes that the oil in peppermint is a helpful natural remedy for IBS and its symptoms in adults. It acts as a natural antispasmodic in the body, which helps reduce bloating and gas.

Read more about peppermint and its possible health benefits.

Simethicone

Simethicone is an over-the-counter medication for gas relief that may help reduce bloating. It is a compound that joins smaller gas bubbles together, making it easier for the body to eliminate them.

Several brands use simethicone as their active ingredient, such as Gas-X and Mylanta, as well as their white-box equivalents.

Going for a walk

Going for a walk after a meal or when feeling bloated may help some people relieve trapped gas and bloating, especially if it is related to constipation.

Walking may also help flex muscles in the gastrointestinal tract, while all exercise increases blood flow and circulation. Both of these things could help release gas.

Probiotics

Bloating can also be a symptom of altered gut bacteria or dysbiosis. Research has shown that fermented milk products and probiotic supplements can reduce digestive symptoms, such as bloating and flatulence, in some cases.

Dietary changes

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Making dietary changes may help a person who experiences bloating regularly.

If a person has bloating regularly, they may want to consider making some dietary changes.

As a review in the Journal of Neurogastroenterology and Motility notes, food intake may play a key role in bloating. There is evidence that changing to a low FODMAP diet may help control symptoms, especially in people diagnosed with IBS.

FODMAP foods are types of carbohydrates that gut bacteria ferment and which may lead to bloating in some people. FODMAP stands for “fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols.”

Alternatively, people who frequently experience bloating might want to keep a food diary of everything they eat. This record of their food intake may help identify and eliminate problematic foods.


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Summary

There is no scientific evidence to say ACV helps with bloating. Due to its acidic nature, ACV may help people with poor digestion or low stomach acid levels, but advocates may overstate these claims.

With that said, some people may find relief by trying ACV for bloating, especially if they have low stomach acid levels. Others may want to turn to remedies with more evidence behind them, such as simethicone, peppermint tea, probiotics, or a low FODMAP diet. In some cases, simply getting up and going for a walk may be enough to reduce minor symptoms.

People who often deal with digestive issues such as bloating should see a doctor or healthcare professional. Getting advice may help identify a chronic condition such as IBS.

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