Gout is a type of inflammatory arthritis that occurs when uric acid crystals build up in the joints. These crystals typically cause redness, pain, and swelling in the joints and tissues surrounding them, especially in the lower limbs.
Humans have been using vinegar for thousands of years to cook meals, preserve foods, treat wounds, and prevent infection.
In this article, we discuss whether apple cider vinegar can help prevent or treat gout. We also cover how to use it, the possible risks, and other home remedies for this painful condition.
Does it work?
Apple cider vinegar is popular as a natural remedy for numerous conditions.
To date, there is no scientific evidence that apple cider vinegar can treat or prevent gout.
However, some preliminary research suggests that acetic acid, a key ingredient in apple cider vinegar and other types of vinegar, may help reduce or manage risk factors for gout, including:
In a 2016 study, researchers gave male rats on a high-fat diet 7 milliliters (ml) of apple cider vinegar per kilogram of body weight each day. After 30 days, there was a significant reduction in the animals' food intake and body weight.
In the same study, apple cider vinegar also lowered blood sugar levels and improved serum lipid profiles by reducing the levels of circulating cholesterol, triglycerides, and low-density lipoproteins.
Also, in a 2017 study, mice on a high-fat diet received high doses of palm vinegar containing 4% acetic acid. They ate less and experienced a reduction in body weight, fat deposits, and inflammation as well as a change in their gut microbial composition.
People have historically used apple cider vinegar in folk medicine for diabetes. Recent studies suggest that vinegar consumption may help improve insulin sensitivity in people with and without diabetes.
This effect could occur because acetic acid can help slow down digestion and reduce carbohydrate absorption.
The same researchers pointed out that taking vinegar at bedtime could reduce fasting glucose levels in people with type 2 diabetes.
So, while there is no evidence that consuming apple cider vinegar will directly prevent or treat gout, it may indirectly have these effects. However, as it is an unproven remedy and could interact with other treatments, people with gout should talk to a doctor before using it.
How to use
A person can mix apple cider vinegar into a drink to dilute it.
There is no fixed recommended dosage of apple cider vinegar for treating or preventing gout.
A 2016 review found that drinking 15 ml of vinegar, which contains 750 milligrams (mg) of acetic acid, each day could help improve some conditions that are risk factors for gout, such as obesity and high blood pressure.
It is always best to use vinegar in a diluted form. For example, the authors of a 2014 study asked participants to drink 325 grams (g) of sugar-free squash and water alongside 25 g of vinegar with 6% acetic acid.
It is essential to dilute apple cider vinegar because it is very acidic. Acidic foods and drinks can weaken tooth enamel, increasing the risk of tooth decay and cavities.
While apple cider vinegar is generally safe to consume, people should be aware of the risks and take precautions.
One study found that people who consumed apple cider vinegar weekly were 10 times more likely to experience severe erosive tooth damage.
Also, a 2012 study found that a 15-year-old girl who drank a glass of apple cider vinegar daily experienced erosive tooth decay.
Diluting apple cider vinegar drinks reduces the amount of exposure that the teeth and mouth get to acid. Drinking the mixture with a reusable straw may also minimize acid exposure.
It is also important to watch out for other side effects that can occur as a result of consuming apple cider vinegar.
Research has shown that apple cider vinegar can potentially improve satiety, or the feeling of fullness, which can help reduce appetite and promote weight loss.
However, the results of a 2014 study showed that this satiety might primarily be due to the fact that drinking apple cider vinegar causes nausea. In the study, young, healthy people of a normal weight who drank apple cider vinegar with breakfast experienced much higher rates of both nausea and satiety than those who did not consume the vinegar.
The authors of the study also noted that as well as nausea, some research indicates that regular vinegar consumption may cause the following side effects:
If side effects occur, it is best to stop using apple cider vinegar or cut back on the dosage until the side effects go away.
If any side effects are severe or continue to worsen after discontinuing the use of apple cider vinegar, a person should talk to a doctor or seek emergency care.
Other home remedies for gout
Many natural home remedies may help treat or prevent gout flare-ups. Some of the dietary and lifestyle changes with the most potential to influence gout include:
Eat cherries or tart cherry juice
Drinking cherry juice may benefit people with gout.
Some limited studies have shown that cherry consumption may help reduce uric acid levels. Compounds in cherries called anthocyanins also act as anti-inflammatory agents and antioxidants.
A 2012 study that included 633 people found that eating cherries or cherry extract over 2 days seemed to lower the risk of a gout attack by 35%, with benefits peaking at around three servings per day.
Tart cherry juice is available to purchase in some health food stores and online.
Eat ginger or take ginger supplements
Compounds in ginger called flavonoids also seem to lower uric acid levels.
In a 2015 study, rats with high blood levels of uric acid that consumed ginger flavonoids experienced a decrease in uric acid levels over time.
People can buy fresh ginger at their local supermarket or take it as a supplement. Ginger supplements are available online.
Avoid purine-rich foods Anyone who receives a gout diagnosis should ask a doctor or dietitian which foods are high in purine. Purines are compounds that increase levels of uric acid.
Foods that are high in purines include:
some meats, including pork, liver, turkey, and veal
seafood, including sardines, cod, trout, and haddock
Take vitamin C
Research shows that vitamin C, which is in many citrus fruits, may reduce the risk of gout by increasing how much uric acid the kidneys excrete.
The authors of a 2015 review found that consuming more than 500 mg of vitamin C daily reduced serum uric acid.
People can purchase vitamin C in drug stores and online.
Avoid or limit alcohol intake
Alcohol is a known risk factor for gout. The risk of gout increases in relation to the amount of alcohol that a person consumes.
The type of alcohol also has an effect. For example, beer seems to increase the risk of gout more than liquor. The safest alcohol for people with gout to drink is wine.
Try low fat or nonfat dairy products
Some research shows that compounds in milk — orotic acid, casein, and lactalbumin — may help reduce gout flare-ups by increasing how much uric acid the kidneys excrete.
Other compounds in milk products may also help reduce acute gout inflammation and flare-ups.
The authors of one review paper recommend consuming low fat or nonfat dairy products, such as yogurt and skim milk.
Although not all doctors recommend this, and researchers are not quite sure why it works for some people, drinking at least four cups of coffee daily may reduce the risk of gout.
There is no proof that consuming or using apple cider vinegar can help prevent or treat gout.
However, certain chemicals in apple cider vinegar, namely acetic acid, may lower the risk of developing conditions that can increase the likelihood of gout, such as obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure.
When using apple cider vinegar for any purpose, it is vital to dilute it. Undiluted vinegar products are very acidic and can damage the teeth, throat, and skin.