Does Apple Cider Vinegar Help Gout?

'A Quick Readers Question From A Gout Sufferer'

The Short Answer –

‘Apple cider vinegar’ may not seem an obvious treatment for gout. But should it? Can it prevent a gout attack or even stop gout pain in its tracks? Does apple cider vinegar help gout?

Another reader question today, so thanks for your input – it really does make this site more interesting! Today we look at the relationship between apple cider vinegar and gout. Unfortunately, the outcome is not a positive one when it comes to controlling your gout symptoms. We’ll explain why…

Does Apple Cider Vinegar Help Gout – Making A Case For And Against

Apple cider vinegar is a vinegar specially made from apple juice (as you might have guessed!). It is frequently found in salad dressings, marinades and chutneys.

There are actually approximately 6 key benefits that are well claimed, if not always accepted, with apple cider vinegar –

1. Full Of Antioxidants and some amino acids.
2. Fights Diabetes by lowering blood sugar levels
3. Helps maintain a healthy heart by lowering your cholesterol
4. It has protective properties against the development of cancer
5. Helps with weight loss
6. It can even be used on your kitchen work surfaces as it kills most harmful bacteria.
7. Vinegar’s powerful defence against bacteria is one of the reasons it can also be used to preserve foods.

A photo of apple cider vinegar next to some fresh apples

The Case Against –

However, there are also side effects to consuming too much apple cider vinegar. These could be classified as –

1. Delayed Stomach Clearing.

This might not sound much but while it controls blood sugar levels by slowing down how quickly your stomach absorbs food, it does so by reducing the rate the rate that it enters the digestive tract.

This can ultimately mean heartburn, bloating and nausea.

2. Low Potassium Levels.

Potassium has been linked with fighting against gout, so theoretically anything that lowers potassium levels is not good news.

3. Throat Burns.

This is particularly true in children, where its even been considered a dangerous substance and kept in childproof containers.

4. Drug Interactions.

Particularly with diabetes medications, Digoxin and any diuretics that may cause losses in potassium.

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Does Apple Cider Vinegar Help Gout?

So to answer the question then – does apple cider vinegar help Gout?

Well, the simple answer is I don’t believe it does, at least not for some of the reasons suggested. The reality however is there is literally no research directly in to whether apple cider vinegar (ACV) has any effect on gout whatsoever.

During my own research, I came across several ‘respected’ sites who made a whole series of claims about apple cider vinegar and it’s ability to treat or prevent gout (perhaps for somewhat unscrupulous commercial reasons), only to admit at the bottom that, of course, there was no actual research done in to it.

Spreading half-truths…

Unfortunately, like all rumours, it only takes a couple of large sources to argue somewhat illogically that apple cider vinegar does help gout and then it becomes a ‘possibility’.

Suddenly I was reading some highly questionable assertions that the answer to gout was to drink ACV every day as part of your diet.

Now in order to make the fairest assessment possible, it is best to start with what we do know.

What we know…

We do know that gout is caused by having too much uric acid in your body, leading to the formation of urate crystals which then attack you vulnerable joints, most normally your big toe due it’s distance from your heart.

We also know that if you want to prevent gout, one of the leading actions you can take (as boring as it is), is to eat healthily, exercise and lose weight.

This will not only help your body stay strong, but actually increase your kidney’s ability to excrete uric acid at a faster rate.

We also know that there is some research repeatedly linking high potassium levels with lower uric acid concentrations.

A photo of a uric acid test result

Does Apple Cider Vinegar Affect Gout – Making Assumptions

Putting this knowledge back to what we stated in the pros and cons of apple cider vinegar and it offers the following ‘logical conclusions’

– The benefit of apple cider vinegar on gout is that it has been shown to help people lose weight. Losing weight is very likely to put back the likelihood of a gout attack and in that sense, you could argue that apple cider vinegar is good for gout.

– However, the flip side is that apple cider vinegar has also been proven to reduce potassium levels, both through interactions with common drugs and also on it’s own.

This reduced potassium has been directly linked to higher uric acid levels (and therefore more urate crystals, which typically equates to more gout).

– Then there is one of the only studies to actually look in to acidity levels in urine. This study concluded, in The Nutrition Journal, that higher levels of acid in the urine were linked with higher levels of uric acid. This makes logical sense, meaning that a more alkaline diet is likely to see the production of less uric acid.

That much can be proven.

But what effect did Apple Cider have?

The study actually continued to conclude that a more alkaline diet did reduce uric acid levels and therefore the risk of a gout attack.

However, how is this affected by apple cider vinegar? So much of the argument may hinge on whether apple cider vinegar alters the acidity of your stomach.

Establishing the facts…

Unfortunately, there is again no evidence that apple cider vinegar has any effect on acidity levels. Some have tried to argue that because ACV was used in the ‘alkaline diet’ in the trial mentioned above, that it must alter the alkaline state.

But the simple truth is that the vinegar was just one of many foods in either diet and any drop in acid levels can not be attributed to any one food in particular.

Indeed, if you keep in mind the fact that apple cider vinegar is well known for slowing down food consumption and food that takes longer to be consumed is likely to lead to more acid being produced (and the associated heartburn), then you could make a pretty strong case for ACV to be an acid creator.

If this is the case, then again the only benefit of apple cider vinegar is the benefits for weight loss of slow food consumption that makes you feel full.

So does apple cider vinegar help gout? Setting the potential benefits if weight is lost (and lets not forget there is not guarantee of any weight loss) against the effects on potassium levels, the likelihood of food stuck ‘in transit’ with the associated heartburn and the drug interactions, my answer is No.

As always, we stand to be corrected, but as yet no clinical trial has managed to do so.

The Final Word –

Hopefully I have shown you have learnt things from this answer –

1) That apple cider vinegar does have some benefits, if not necessarily directly gout prevention.

2) That there is no clinical data to support or contradict the use of apple cider vinegar in treating or preventing gout.

3) That apple cider vinegar can have some benefits for losing weight and that, if it does help you to lose weight and live healthier, then in that context, ACV could help prevent gout.

4) However, the impact of apple cider vinegar on potassium levels are of concern and likely to cause more gout attacks, since we know that low potassium levels are linked directly to more urate crystals (and gout attacks)

5) That any suggestion that apple cider vinegar can help gout by slightly altering the PH of your digestive system is correct in principle – but there is no evidence whatsoever that ACV has that effect. Indeed, it’s more likely that it has the opposite, slowing down food consumption, increasing heartburn and creating more acid. But neither theory has been conclusively proven.

So does apple cider vinegar help gout? All in all, I do not believe it does. I have explained my rationale above and I live to be proved wrong. I would never say don’t try it of course (no-one knows everything), but you have my answer to gout and apple cider vinegar.

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References –

1. Mitrou P, Petsiou E, Papakonstantinou E, Maratou E, Lambadiari V, Dimitriadis P, Spanoudi F, Raptis SA, Dimitriadis G.  (May 2015). Vinegar Consumption Increases Insulin-Stimulated Glucose Uptake by the Forearm Muscle in Humans with Type 2 Diabetes. Journal Of Diabetes Research.
2. Nuutinen M, Uhari M, Karvali T, Kouvalainen K. (Nov 1994). Consequences Of Caustic Ingestions In Children. Acta Paediatrica.
3. Aya Kanbara, Masayuki Hakoda, and Issei Seyama (Oct 2010). Urine Alkalization Facilitates Uric Acid Excretion. Nutrition Journal.

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