Written by Divinity Nutra, Updated on March 21, 2022
The validity of traditional home remedies always kindles a decades-long debate. Be it the cure-all turmeric or a soothing cup of ginger tea, our ancestor’s remedies have always piqued the curiosity of the scientific community. Interestingly, research trials often validate the therapeutic uses of natural and herbal treatments.
One similar case in dispute has been the medicinal uses for apple cider vinegar. Proponents acknowledge it as a universal remedy for all sorts of body problems, including joint pain. However, let us see what science and evidence say about using apple cider vinegar for arthritis.
Apple Cider Vinegar for Arthritis & Joint Pain
While determining how apple cider vinegar and inflammation interact, we can not ignore the beverage’s history of credibility. It all started back from Hippocrates’ time when he utilized ACV’s healing properties for treating wounds.
Today, several studies and research trials promote the many health benefits of apple cider vinegar. This includes its use as a face wash for acne, as a therapy for colds and allergies, or even as a hair rinse. Its most popular applications are for metabolism and fat loss and treating ailments like acid reflux, kidney stones, or nerve pain.
Let’s explore the science behind using ACV for arthritis and joint pain in more detail.
What is Arthritis?
If you have been experiencing pain around the joints that won’t go away with a simple massage or ointment, chances are you’re experiencing arthritis. The term does not refer to one singular disease but is an umbrella term for any kind of inflammation-related joint pain. This includes more than 100 types of joint pain with different symptoms for each. (1, 2)
Causes of Arthritis
It is difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of arthritis until you’ve identified its type. For instance, too much uric acid may cause gout, while osteoarthritis often derives from genetics. Most forms of arthritis share the following causes which may increase your risk:
- Age: Joints tend to lose their protective cushioning over time and wear down. Thus, the risk of developing arthritis increases with age.
- Weight: Excess body weight causes increased stress on weight-bearing joints. This causes them to wear down quicker which can lead to arthritis.
- Injuries: Immense physical trauma may damage the joints, causing arthritis.
- Sex: Women naturally have greater joint mobility than men. While this grants them more flexibility, it also makes them more prone to develop joint pain.
- Genes: Certain types of arthritis may originate from inherited genetics.
Symptoms of Arthritis
A range of symptoms can be experienced in the body depending upon the type of arthritis. They can be anywhere from mild to severe, conditional upon the damage done to the joints. The following warning signs are common amongst all types:
- Stiffness of limbs
- Redness or rash formation
- Hampered mobility
Types of Arthritis
Osteoarthritis: Osteoarthritis, also referred to as degenerative joint disease, is perhaps the most common type. Injury, genetics, or obesity may trigger the protective covering over the ends of the bones to wear off. This causes the bare surface of a bone to rub against the other, resulting in stiffness and severe pain.
Rheumatoid Arthritis: Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder. It causes the immune system to attack healthy body cells, resulting in inflammation and significant pain. Untreated, it can also damage other critical organs in the body, including the lungs, heart, eyes, skin, and blood vessels.
Psoriatic Arthritis: A form of inflammatory arthritis, often affecting those suffering from skin conditions such as psoriasis. Symptoms include joint pain, swelling, and stiffness, which can affect any part of the body.
Gout: Gout only affects one joint at a time, usually the big toe joint or the knees. It occurs due to a build-up of uric acid crystals that cause inflammation and ultimately stiffness or pain. Over time, the pain worsens and can even hamper your mobility.
Is Apple Cider Vinegar Good for Arthritis?
Many research trials and studies show that apple cider vinegar may indirectly benefit those suffering from arthritic conditions. However, no direct evidence supports the use of ACV for treating arthritis and joint pain in place of traditionally prescribed medications.
Owing to its widespread popularity, it is still worth a shot that we examine existing pieces of literature that support the use. Ultimately, if ACV is diluted and consumed with the proper dosage, it poses no significant side effects in the majority of individuals.
- Read More: Apple Cider Vinegar and Blood Pressure
A pilot project from 2020 took up the job to design an anti-inflammatory diet that could help patients with rheumatoid arthritis. This project included a range of supplements, cooking agents, and the most recommended one was apple cider vinegar. Due to its high antioxidant and flavonoids composition, it may provide anti-inflammatory properties to RA patients. (3)
A 2019 study from Autoimmunity Reviews could also help lay a foundation for the subject. Apple cider vinegar contains rich antioxidants called polyphenol compounds, which help combat free radicals in the body. This study deemed polyphenols beneficial in preventing and treating many autoimmune disorders, including lupus and RA. (4)
Is Apple Cider Vinegar Good for Inflammation?
A 2017 animal trial performed on obese mice proved vinegar’s anti-inflammatory properties. It concluded that acetic acid in vinegar is effective for inflammation, obesity, and gut microbiome composition. Medical literature has also proven the association between the gut microbiome and inflammatory cytokines. These findings are promising for the use of ACV as a means of controlling bodily inflammation. (5, 6)
Overall, many studies support the anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties of ACV, but none directly associate it with joint pain. Still, since arthritis and joint pain are often a result of chronic inflammation, apple cider vinegar may be able to reduce symptoms and make flare-ups more manageable. (7, 8)
How to use ACV for Joint Pain?
You can use ACV in several ways to treat joint pain. It can be made part of your diet or applied directly. For topical use, consider taking an ACV bath or creating a DIY scrub.
A viable way to use apple cider vinegar for inflammation is to apply it to the area causing pain or swelling. To do so, you can create your ACV scrub, similar to its usage in skincare applications.
- Take about two tablespoons of ACV in a bowl.
- Dilute it using antioxidant-rich essential oils such as coconut or olive oil.
- Use a cotton dab or a brush to apply this mixture to the area twice a day.
- After application, spend about 5 minutes gently massaging it.
Apple cider vinegar baths are highly effective because they are a great detoxifying and cleansing agent, as well as an anti-inflammatory. However, be very careful to use only an adequate amount and keep in mind the following points:
- Use 1-2 cups of ACV against a full bath of warm water.
- Do not take an ACV bath more than twice a week.
- Always use raw, organic ACV to avoid possible side effects.
How to Get More ACV in Your Diet?
The most common way of consuming ACV is to make an ACV and honey drink at home. This recipe reaps the benefits of both ingredients and provides for a healthy beverage intake.
- Take a tablespoon of raw unfiltered ACV and mix it with 1 cup of warm water.
- Use honey to sweeten the mixture or use a stevia-based sweetener.
- Personalize the recipe with your choice of herbal ingredients such as turmeric, cayenne pepper, or ginger.
- Gently stir and consume once a day, before bed or in the morning.
Apart from the classic ACV drink, there are other methods you can try to squeeze more apple cider vinegar into your diet.
- Make a vinaigrette salad by using your favorite natural ingredients.
- Use delicious apple cider vinegar gummies or pills/capsules as part of your supplement routine.
- Cook it with your everyday meat and vegetable dishes.
- Mix it in your morning tea.
- Add a small quantity to your seasonal marinade recipe.
Final Thoughts on ACV and Inflammation
Apple cider vinegar leaves us with an uncertain answer, but studies show that it may indirectly help arthritis and joint pain. More research is required to fully understand the use of ACV for inflammation.
- More Reading: Apple Cider Vinegar and Baking Soda
It is hard to turn a blind eye to its history of healing tendencies reported by many personal experiences. If you suffer from arthritis, using apple cider vinegar for joint pain should just be one option to include in your anti-inflammatory diet. However, be sure to consult a certified medical professional before using this, or any dietary supplement.
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