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Apple Cider Vinegar and Edema

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Apple cider vinegar may be used as a natural remedy to treat edema.

Water retention, clinically known as edema, is a condition when the body stores excess fluid in body tissues. The lymphatic system removes fluid from the body; and when it fails to function properly, the body retains this excess fluid. 

Several causes lead to water retention, including too much salt intake, poor nutrition, PMS, menopause, high blood pressure, and other major illnesses of the heart or kidneys. 

There are several over the counter diuretics available to get rid of water retention. Some people consider using natural remedies to treat the condition. 

It is believed that apple cider vinegar helps remove extra fluids from the cells of the body. But, is it effective? Let’s find out. 

What is Apple Cider Vinegar?

Apple cider vinegar is the kind of vinegar made from apple must. It has a pale amber color and is extensively used in the food industry.

To make apple cider vinegar, apples are crushed and their liquid squeezed out. This liquid is then fermented by adding yeast and bacteria.

The fermentation process proceeds in two stages: a first stage in which the sugars in the apple juice are turned to alcohol; and a second stage during which the alcohol is turned into acetic acid and other acids making up vinegar such as lactic acid, malic acid, and citric acid.

The sharp, sour taste of vinegar is due to acetic acid and malic acid. Apple cider vinegar is acidic and those who find the liquid preparation too sour or acerbic can opt for the tablets instead.

Unrefined or organic apple cider vinegar looks slightly congealed and appears with a cobweb-like, dark froth. This froth contains nutrients such as enzymes, minerals and the acetobacter responsible for the fermentation process.

This dark “mother of vinegar”, as it called, is then added to future batches of apple cider vinegar to hasten new fermentation processes. 

Organic apple cider vinegar is preferable to pasteurized apple cider vinegar for treating edema because the “mother” is removed during the processing of the pasteurized forms sold in supermarkets.

Using Apple Cider Vinegar to treat Edema

The active ingredients in apple cider vinegar include potassium, pectin, malic acid, calcium, acetic acid, and ash.

Pectin is useful for reducing LDL cholesterol and blood pressure; calcium is needed for strengthening bones and preventing osteoporosis; and malic acid is responsible for the antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties of apple cider vinegar.

Acetic acid lowers carbohydrate metabolism and is useful in the treatment of diabetes, and ash is responsible for the alkaline property of apple cider vinegar even though there are several organic acids also present in the vinegar.

Potassium, on the other hand, is the chief reason apple cider vinegar is useful in the treatment of edema. Studies have shown that one of the serious symptoms of potassium deficiency is edema.

When the potassium levels in the body are low, the cells tend to fill with water which is the cause of swelling in different parts of the body. This is because potassium ion (together with sodium and chloride ions) is responsible for the cellular pumps in the body.

Together, these minerals regulate what goes into the cells and what comes out. When potassium levels fall in the body, there is not enough pressure generated to counterbalance the effects of other ions driving water into the cells. Therefore, there is a net fluid inflow and thus edema.

When this occurs to the brain cells, it can lead to persistent headaches and even cerebral edema.

Potassium deficiency is also implicated in rapid weight gain in people with thyroid disease. In such cases, the weight gain is due to fluid retention and not a fat deposition.

The importance of potassium to edema management is the reason why the mineral is given as supplements in edema patients receiving loop diuretics and thiazides.

Thiazides and loop diuretics are two classes of diuretics used in the treatment of edema. However, unlike potassium-sparing diuretics, they cause the loss of potassium from the body alongside sodium and fluid.

Apple cider vinegar can replenish the potassium levels in the body and reverse fluid retention in edema patients.

How Does It Work? 

Apple cider vinegar is a common household staple used for cooking. It is also used as a low-calorie salad dressing. According to Earl Mindell, author of “Dr. Earl Mindell's Amazing Apple Cider Vinegar,” what some people may not know is that apple cider vinegar can reduce swelling. 

Apple cider vinegar is a part of an ancient tradition of home remedies dating back to Babylonia. It's even believed that Hippocrates used vinegar to treat wounds. 

Leg and ankle swelling caused by edema can be very uncomfortable and painful. According to Natural-HomeRemedies.com, you may use vinegar wraps to reduce this swelling. 

Just soak a towel in a mixture prepared with warm water and vinegar, and wrap the affected ankle with this towel for several minutes. Repeat this process using cold water to reduce the swelling associated with edema. 

As per Cal Orey, author of the book "The Healing Powers of Vinegar," apple cider vinegar can also help reduce water retention. Since apple cider vinegar has a high potassium content, it can balance the sodium that accumulates in the body and aid in preventing fluid retention. 

You may follow this home remedy: mix 2 teaspoons of unfiltered apple cider vinegar into a glass of water and consume it twice a day to help reduce fluid retention

Is It Safe for Me? 

Short term uses of apple cider vinegar are safe for most people. However, a higher dose or extended use may pose some problems of its own. 

As apple cider vinegar is highly acidic, it may irritate your throat if you drink it too often or in large amounts. 

Because apple cider vinegar is acidic, make sure to dilute it with water or juice before taking it. You should also make sure to take apple cider vinegar supplement tablets with a lot of water as it can corrode the mucosal surface of the esophagus if stuck there.

Apple cider vinegar can also damage tooth enamel.

Paradoxically, long-term apple cider vinegar use causes low levels of calcium and potassium. This may cause osteoporosis.

Besides, most apple cider vinegar tablets sold on the market were found by a 2005 FDA survey to contain acetic acid instead of apple cider vinegar.

What is the Appropriate Dose?

The appropriate dose of apple cider vinegar depends on various factors such as the person's age, health, and several other conditions. 

At this time, there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses. Be sure to follow the relevant directions on product labels and talk to your doctor before using it to treat edema

However, a good ratio is to mix 2 tablespoons of organic apple cider vinegar to 1 gallon of purified water. To improve the taste of the solution, you can add a little honey.

Make sure to shake apple cider vinegar bottle to mix the mother of vinegar which would have settled at the bottom.

Are There Any Drug Interactions?

Apple cider vinegar can potentially interact with certain supplements or drugs, including diuretics and insulin. Consuming large amounts of apple cider vinegar might decrease the potassium level in the body. You should avoid digoxin (Lanoxin) and Insulin when taking apple cider vinegar. 

Apple cider vinegar contains chromium which may alter insulin levels and interfere with carbohydrate metabolism.

It might also decrease blood sugar in people with diabetes. Thus, it might interact with some anti-diabetes, such as glimepiride, glyburide, insulin, pioglitazone, rosiglitazone, chlorpropamide, glipizide, tolbutamide, and others.

Next Article: Edema Diet: Foods to Avoid for Edema