Gout is a type of inflammatory arthritis that occurs when uric acid crystals accumulate in the joints. These crystals usually cause redness, pain and swelling in the joints and the tissues that surround them, especially in the lower extremities.
Humans have been using vinegar for thousands of years to cook, preserve food, treat wounds and prevent infections.
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.
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, can help reduce or control risk factors for gout, which include:
In a 2016 study, researchers gave male rats 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 food intake and body weight of the animals.
In the same study, apple cider vinegar also reduced blood sugar levels and improved serum lipid profiles by reducing levels of circulating cholesterol, triglycerides and low density lipoproteins.
In addition, 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 intestinal microbial composition.
People have historically used apple cider vinegar in folk medicine for diabetes. Recent studies suggest that the consumption of vinegar can help improve insulin sensitivity in people with and without diabetes.
This effect could occur because acetic acid can help slow digestion and reduce the absorption of carbohydrates.
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 consumption of apple cider vinegar prevents or directly treats gout, it can have these effects indirectly.
However, as it is an unproven remedy and could interact with other treatments, people with gout should consult a doctor before using it.
There is no fixed recommended dose of apple cider vinegar to treat or prevent 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 better to use vinegar in diluted form. For example, the authors of a 2014 study asked participants to drink 325 grams (g) of pumpkin without sugar and water along with 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 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 and erosive tooth damage.
In addition, a study conducted in 2012 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 teeth and mouth receive to acid. Drinking the mixture with a reusable straw can also minimize exposure to acid.
It is also important to be careful with other side effects that can occur as a result of consumption of 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 could be mainly due to the fact that drinking apple cider vinegar causes nausea.
In the study, healthy young people of normal weight who took apple cider vinegar with breakfast experienced much higher rates of nausea and satiety than those who did not consume vinegar.
The study authors also noted that, in addition to nausea, some research indicates that regular consumption of vinegar can cause the following side effects:
If side effects occur, it is best to stop using apple cider vinegar or reduce the dose until the side effects disappear.
If side effects are serious or continue to get worse after you stop using apple cider vinegar, a person should talk to a doctor or seek emergency care.
Many natural home remedies can help treat or prevent outbreaks of gout. Some of the changes in diet and lifestyle with the greatest potential to influence gout include:
Some limited studies have shown that eating cherries can help reduce uric acid levels. The compounds in cherries called anthocyanins also act as anti-inflammatory and antioxidant agents.
A 2012 study that included 633 people found that eating cherries or cherry extract for 2 days seemed to reduce the risk of a gout attack by 35%, with benefits that peaked at around three servings per day.
Acid cherry juice is available to buy at some natural food stores and online.
The compounds in ginger called flavonoids also seem to decrease uric acid levels.
In a 2015 study, rats with high levels of uric acid in their blood 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.
Anyone who receives a diagnosis of gout should ask a doctor or dietitian what foods are high in purine. Purines are compounds that increase uric acid levels.
Foods that are high in purines include:
Research shows that vitamin C, which is found in many citrus fruits, can reduce the risk of gout by increasing the amount of uric acid excreted by the kidneys.
The authors of a 2015 review found that consumption of more than 500 mg of vitamin C per day reduced uric acid in serum.
People can buy vitamin C in pharmacies and online.
Alcohol is a known risk factor for gout. The risk of gout increases in relation to the amount of alcohol 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 is wine.
Some research shows that compounds in milk (orotic acid, casein and lactalbumin) can help reduce gout outbreaks by increasing the amount of uric acid excreted by the kidneys.
Other compounds in dairy products can also help reduce the acute inflammation of gout and outbreaks.
The authors of a review article recommend consuming low-fat or non-fat dairy products, such as yogurt and skim milk.
Although not all doctors recommend it, and researchers are not sure why it works for some people, drinking at least four cups of coffee a day can reduce the risk of gout.
There is no evidence that consuming or using apple cider vinegar can help prevent or treat gout.
However, certain chemicals in apple cider vinegar, such as acetic acid, can 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 teeth, throat and skin.