Written by Divinity Nutra, Updated on January 23, 2022
From being a culinary agent, a dietary supplement, and now regarded as a natural remedy to a range of health problems, apple cider vinegar’s versatility grants its many titles. We have seen it rise from the pantry cabinet to the medicine box, so one can deduce that its many health benefits are not merely an internet culture invention.
Thus, it makes us wonder whether the recent claim of using apple cider vinegar for neuropathy is of any significance? Let us delve into the matter further using scientific evidence and specialists’ answers to find out.
Apple Cider Vinegar for Neuropathy
ACV’s many health benefits are not mere claims by proponents, but they derive from a history of credibility. The father of medicine, Hippocrates, was known to utilize ACV’s healing properties to treat wounds and injuries.
Today, studies have proven that it is a great medium for general-purpose skincare or weight loss diets. Apple cider vinegar for acid reflux, gout, and treating conditions like kidney stones and UTIs are also popular medicinal applications for ACV.
Such versatility gives us reason to believe that perhaps ACV and neuropathy could be a productive combination.
What is Peripheral Neuropathy?
Peripheral neuropathy refers to the damage within the peripheral nervous system (PNS) that connects the nerves from all areas of the body to the brain or spinal cord. These nerves manipulate what signals are sent back to the brain, including physical sensations, malfunctions in the system, and essential body processes.
Damage to one of these nerves or their system is called peripheral neuropathy. Such damage largely interrupts the functioning of the system as a whole. It halts processes such as blood circulation, digestion, urination and may send false signals or sensations to the brain.
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Causes of Neuropathy
It’s difficult to pinpoint one single disease that leads to neuropathy. Nerves are sensitive, and many different conditions can weigh them down and cause a negative impact.
- Autoimmune, Infections, or Inherited Diseases: Disorders like Sjogren’s syndrome, arthritis, Guillain barre syndrome, or lupus cause the immune system to affect the nerves. Other infections like chickenpox, shingles, Lyme disease, hepatitis, etc., may all contribute to neuropathy.
- Vascular or Bone Marrow Diseases: Blood circulation is critical for proper nerve functioning. If inflammation, blood clots, or other blood vessel problems deprive blood flow to the nerves, damage or destruction is inevitable.
- Diabetes: At least 70% of neuropathic cases in the United States derive from diabetes. Approximately 50% of diabetics will eventually develop some form of neuropathy.
- Trauma: Compression of nerves or physical trauma due to fractures or sports accidents may also lead to neuropathy.
Types of Neuropathy
- Peripheral: Nerve damage that frequently affects the feet and legs, but sometimes the hands and arms. This is often associated with the “pins and needles” or tingling
- Autonomic: Damage to vital nerves controlling the functioning of internal organs, which may lead to problems with the heart, blood pressure, bladder, digestive health, or sex organs.
- Proximal: A rare and disabling form of nerve damage impacting the buttock, thigh, and hip region. The damage typically affects one side of the body.
- Focal: Nerve damage occurs in single nerves, most often in your leg, hand, head, or torso. A common form is carpal tunnel syndrome.
Warning Signs of Neuropathy
The type of nerves affected and their location in the body influence the kind of symptoms emerging beforehand. The type of neuropathy also affects the extent of warning signs given. In acute neuropathy, symptoms are sudden with little time for action, while chronic neuropathy develops slowly over time.
Here are a few of the warning signs or symptoms commonly experienced:
- Numbness or sharp pain in the damaged area
- Changes in temperature or pressure
- Muscle cramps or twitching
- Digestion or urination problems
- Problems with sexual functions
- Muscle weakness
Can Apple Cider Vinegar Help with Nerve Pain?
There is little direct scientific evidence to back the claim of using apple cider vinegar for nerve pain. However, its nutrient-rich composition may support its anti-inflammatory response.
One such example is a 2017 research trial that discussed the anti-inflammatory properties of acetic acid vinegar. The animal trial concluded positive results on inflammation, alleviating obesity, and controlling gut microbe composition. (3)
The Journal of Obesity and Metabolic Syndrome established an association between body fat and diabetic peripheral neuropathy. Fortunately, apple cider vinegar is touted as a remarkable weight loss agent. For instance, a trial imposed a 12-week ACV diet on participants, each of which reported a reduction in BMI and body weight. (4, 5)
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Apart from autoimmune diseases and physical trauma, chemicals and toxins also pose a dangerous threat to neuropathy. The elimination of these toxins from the body could help alleviate the pain and make room for recovery. Apple cider vinegar for detox can help eliminate these foreign invaders due to ACV’s antimicrobial and antifungal nature. (6)
Does drinking apple cider vinegar help neuropathy? Apart from the indirect research discussed above, the results will vary based on the individual. Since it’s a very safe nutrient-dense food, it’s likely worth a shot if your doctor agrees.
You can use the following recipe to make an ACV and honey drink at home:
- Take a cup of hot water and mix in a tablespoon of raw, organic apple cider vinegar.
- Add in a sweetener of your choice, preferably honey or a stevia-based sweetener.
- Gently stir the mixture and consume!
Does soaking your feet in apple cider vinegar help neuropathy? So far, the evidence is scant. All benefits of soaking feet in ACV point to its antimicrobial capacity or dermatological capabilities.
A 2006 study on vinegar’s medicinal properties identified it as a potential anti-infective agent. This could prove beneficial for inflammation of the feet or handling autoimmune diseases that may worsen nerve pain. (7)
With that said, soaking your feet in apple cider vinegar may be more beneficial for fungal infections like athlete’s foot, not necessarily nerve pain.
Other Ways to Get More ACV
You can take an apple cider vinegar bath instead of only soaking your feet to enjoy its rich dermatological advantages. Moreover, you can adopt many different approaches apart from drinking ACV well. Here’s how:
- Mix ACV with natural herbs like turmeric or essential oils to make a salad dressing.
- Include a small quantity in your marinade recipe.
- Make ACV gummies or capsules a part of your supplement routine.
- Mix it into your morning or evening tea.
- Use it as a skincare product for the area where nerve damage has occurred.
Home Remedies for Nerve Pain
In the early stages of neuropathy, the focus is to minimize the pain and discomfort. For this purpose, many painkillers are utilized, but natural remedies like apple cider vinegar can be equally effective.
- Turmeric: One of the primary turmeric benefits is its high anti-inflammatory properties that may help reduce nerve pain. You can add it to your diet as a turmeric supplement or take it with warm milk.
- Vitamins: Vitamin deficiency is a common cause of nerve pain. Include foods rich in vitamin B and D in your diet or consume them as a supplement.
- Warm bath: Soak yourself in a warm bath regularly to stimulate the blood supply to the damaged area.
- Exercise: Body movement and vigorous exercise help utilize natural painkillers called endorphins. The movement also helps keep blood sugar levels in control and combat nerve pain.
Final Thoughts on ACV and Neuropathy
The final verdict remains positive. Even if no evidence directly backs up the claim, none directly deny it either. Thus, one could rely upon history and personal experiences to test the efficiency of ACV for nerve pain.
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With so many benefits to consider, ACV makes a great addition to any diet or personal health regimen. Remember to always consult with a doctor or certified medical professional before using apple cider vinegar, or any dietary supplement.